#SexColumn: Have calm and open discussions when partner is not meeting your needs

Have calm and open discussions when partner is not meeting your needs. Picture: file

Have calm and open discussions when partner is not meeting your needs. Picture: file

Published Jun 28, 2024


BY Sharon Gordon

Last week I wrote about how to communicate with your partner during sex. If you missed it go back and have a read. This week I want to address what you can do when your partner can’t meet your needs. I’m not talking about – doesn’t want to, because that is a whole different discussion. I’m talking about cannot.

The first thing you need to be honest with yourself about whether your need is a preference or a core need. Is it something I want or is it something that is non-negotiable.

If your ‘want’ is not a deal breaker then you will have to come to terms with it and practice accepting that your partner won’t be able to meet that need and that you will be okay. Reflect on other healthy ways you can get your needs met while staying in the relationship and without damaging or building resentment towards your partner.

If it’s a non-negotiable best to get it out in the open and talk about how to resolve your differences.

What are the next steps? Do you need couples therapy, do you need space or is leaving an option. Is there a work around that will work for both of you?

Choose the right time to have this discussion. Only discuss important issues when both of you are calm and not distracted. Avoid bringing up sensitive topics during moments of high stress or conflict.

Sometimes your need not being met is a miscommunication. Before you wake up and choose violence, ask your partner for their interpretation of what your need is, to better understand why they cannot meet it.

Be specific about what your need is. Clearly define what you need. Instead of saying, “I need more support, specify what that support looks like, such as “I need you to help with household chores more often”.

If you need some alone time but your partner is resisting and insists on spending every waking moment with you, you may want to ask the following questions. Do LISTEN to the answers. It will give you an insight into what is really going on.

How does my need for time alone impact you?

How do you feel about me needing more time alone?

Do you believe that my needing time alone has something to do with how I feel about you or our relationship?

The answers will shed light on the reluctance and you will be in a much better position to reconsider options and a way forward.

Do acknowledge your partner’s needs. Show that you understand and care about your partner’s needs. This fosters a sense of teamwork and mutual respect.

Very often what you need and what your partner imagines you need are different things, so it might be helpful to give an example of what your need or request will look like in real life. This will give you both some clarity.

For example, getting back to wanting alone time, you can say ‘I want to spend Sunday mornings on my own so I can run errands, groom, read my book or get ready for the week ahead. If I’m on my own it’s just easier to be on my own.

The trick is to find creative ways to compromise and adjust the need to make it work for both of you. It’s easier with needs like wanting more alone time. It is non-threatening. It gets a lot more complicated when it strikes real fear into the heart of your partner. This is especially true if the need is sexual.

Stay calm and respectful. Keep the conversation respectful and avoid raising your voice or using hurtful language. Staying calm helps both of you stay focused on finding a solution.

You need to find a compromise that feels safe for your partner. In the alone time example, you may want to spend quality time with your partner after the alone time. Reconnect in the afternoon and do something your partner needs.

Relationships change, as do the parties in them. It is one of the leading causes of divorce. How many times have you heard “My partner isn’t the person I married!’ ‘We have nothing in common”.

We should all be doing a needs assessment before it gets too late. We often need time to reassess and time to adjust to needs and boundaries. It takes time and honesty to have the conversation, find the compromise and trial and error to implement and find the balance required.

Negotiating your needs in an intimate relationship requires clear communication, empathy, and mutual respect. If you have genuinely changed so much and your needs cannot be met then you have to look at your options.

Saturday Star