Understanding emotional needs in a relationship

Relationships aren’t always easy. They continuously develop and grow over time as you gain a deeper understanding of one another. Although, just because you know someone doesn’t mean it’s their responsibility to fulfill your emotional needs in a relationship all of the time. Some of this responsibility lies solely with you. 

Many common issues with couples are tied to emotional dissatisfaction. Like not feeling valued, appreciated, heard, or loved by their significant other. One partner may feel distant and lonely, while the other is feeling angered for not being noticed by the other. So, in order to better understand how to become emotionally fulfilled, let’s further define what emotional needs are in a relationship. 

What Are Emotional Needs?

According to psychologist Dr. Harley, an emotional need “is a craving that, when satisfied, leaves you with a feeling of happiness and contentment, and, when unsatisfied, leaves you with a feeling of unhappiness and frustration.” 

These cravings can range from date nights to spending quality time with the kids, financial support, or simply enjoying intimate conversations and affection. Emotional satisfaction can greatly vary from person to person, depending on what satisfies this craving. In no particular order, here is a breakdown of the 10 emotional needs in a relationship.

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Showing admiration and appreciation is an emotional need in relationships

10 Emotional Needs In A Relationship


Feeling admired and appreciated in a relationship can go a long way. This can involve kind gestures, compliments, and showing appreciation for the other. 


Acts of affection, like holding hands, cuddling, saying “I love you”, or lovingly gazing at your partner, can help to strengthen your bond. 


Cultivating trust in a relationship involves being open and honest with each other. Be open about your past, as well as your hopes and dreams for the future. 

Intimate Conversation

It’s important to feel heard and understood. Take the time to listen to your partner, ask questions, validate any and all concerns, and give them your undivided attention. This goes for general conversations and more serious ones. 

Physical Attractiveness

In order to feel close to your partner, you want to feel physically attracted to them. General hygiene, fashion choices, hairstyles, and more can impact this.  

Physical attraction is one emotional need in relationships


Feeling accepted by your partner can form a deeper sense of belonging. Spend time with their family and friends, engage in a shared hobby or sports activity together, or make travel plans. 

Sexual Fulfillment

Sexual intimacy in a relationship differs from physical affection. Being open and talking to your partner about their wants and desires is essential to fulfilling this need. 

Domestic Support

Small acts around the house, such as cleaning, doing laundry, or cooking, can have a huge impact. 

Family Commitment

Caring for your significant other is one thing. However, sharing the responsibility of raising children is a whole other ball game. Take time to discuss how you want to raise your kids (your values, teaching methods, and their overall well-being) and set aside consistent family time. 

Financial Support

Money talk can be really sensitive for some. That’s why it’s important to have a clear understanding of your partner’s spending habits, income levels, investments, retirement, and more. 

The Importance of Understanding Your Emotional Needs

Emotional support in a relationship is important, but what can you do personally to become emotionally fulfilled? We all have different levels of emotional satisfaction that need to be met. Not all of this support should be fulfilled or expected to be fulfilled by your partner alone. 

If you’re commonly feeling angry, resentful, frustrated, or annoyed, it’s likely some of your needs are not being met. Instead of turning to others to fulfill this need, take responsibility and ask yourself what it is you need first. If you’re unable to address your concerns, consider speaking to family and friends or seeking professional support for guidance.

How to fulfill your partners emotional needs in a relationship

How To Fulfill Your Partner’s Needs

Having a better understanding of your partner’s emotional needs can help you thrive and develop a bond like no other. If you feel that your needs aren’t being met, have an open conversation with your partner. While they may prioritize affection, family time, and companionship, you may prioritize financial and domestic support. Trust and communication are key to a long-lasting relationship. Spend time discussing this with your partner, so you can both become emotionally fulfilled in your own ways. 

Additionally, make sure to carve out some space to spend time alone. This “me” time allows you to grow individually, which will ultimately benefit the closeness you have when you’re together. You can’t expect your partner to fulfill all of your needs and they shouldn’t have to. With quality alone time, you can better understand your needs and how you can work towards fulfilling them.


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. This likely dovetails with the other points here, but emotional safety is important as well. This is the ability to be oneself – ask questions, express opinions, even make mistakes without being judged, derided or responded to with sarcasm or gaslighting.

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