By Diane Taylor
Humans are by nature egocentric so it is natural for women in relationships to focus on what they need and be expressive about when and where those needs are not being met. Communicating your needs can be an effective relationship practice when presented in a positive and proactive way.
The reality is both men and women have needs. Men are human beings and need to feel loved just as much as women do.
The difference is they ‘show up’ so differently than women that their needs often go unnoticed, are not understood, or are simply ignored. Society and their fathers have taught this generation of men to be strong and independent. To ‘suck it up,’ ‘don’t be a pussy;’ and the ultimate, to … ‘be a man!’
Basically translated, these all mean ‘show no emotion,’ which makes expressing your needs and desires very difficult.
So you do. You show up as a confident and strong man and stuff your emotions deep inside and you might even run like hell, using avoidance anytime something emotional arises, because you have not had the opportunity to openly and frequently flex your emotion muscle like women have.
The result is a lack of understanding and connection in relationships between men and women.
Men struggle with expressing and healing their emotional wounds. Women get frustrated with their perceived lack of ability to connect on an emotional level. This leads to separation of connection and relationship break down.
When women need to express their emotion they talk, often to their girlfriends. Men, on the other hand, do not have that luxury. Men do not pull up a stool at the pub and say, ‘yeah dude, I feel kind of scared that my company is losing money ’or‘ I feel excited about my weekend getaway; I think she is the one.’
But relationship success really comes down to one key thing. Your ability to recognize, appreciate and meet the needs of your partner.
That takes effort from both parties. The more men can connect to, and accept and communicate their needs to their partner, the more deeply connected couples will become.
Now I do not pretend to know everything about men, but I believe from my own experience and in working with many male clients that these seven tips are a good start.
Men need time on their own to process information and feelings. When women provide this space, it allows the man to step forward.
Women naturally want to decrease space to create connection, which often makes men feel suffocated and overwhelmed. It is important for men to communicate that by having this space it makes them a better partner.
I have heard many women complain about being ‘Golf Widows.’ If she knows it feeds your souls, makes you a better partner and increases your quality of time together, you will get more time to play and meet your need for space. Make sure you tell her you cannot wait to see her after your round and her need for connection will also be satisfied.
Although men have been programmed to show up strong and be providers, they are still human and at their core have a need for affection. It’s not natural for boys to go from being cared for by their mothers to not needing any affection at all.
Let her know you like to be touched, kissed, or that when she rubs your shoulders after a rough day, you feel loved. Under that confident, strong, and manly exterior is still the heart of a boy that needs to feel loved – and that is a really good thing!
Men work hard. The desire to excel and contribute is a natural part of their DNA. In order to achieve a sustainable loving relationship bond with a woman, it is critical that she respects him.
Clearly, demanding respect is never an effective way to get it; however, acting with integrity, sharing values, building trust, and demonstrating respect for her is a great way to garner respect.
Men are different than women. Period. I think we all know that by now. But do we really get that?
Women complain about how much men work but fail to understand that often a man is fulfilling his life’s purpose through his work or providing for his family, which is often his way of showing love. It is easier for women to understand this need when you can communicate how important your work is, not only to you as a confident, contributing member of society, but as a part of the partnership and the future you are building together. If she understands the meaning of your work, she will naturally be more understanding.
Women feel love in the emotional realm. Men feel love in the physical realm. Having sex twice a month does not cut it. Nor does “just showing up.” Men want to feel connected and sex is the primary way they experience that.
Help your partner to understand this by talking with her about how you feel connected and loved when you have sex. Show her lots of non-sexual physical love as well by hugging her often or just reaching out and holding her hand.
6. Connection with their kids
Women have traditionally been the primary caregiver of children and for the most part still carry a lot of the weight when caring for children. However, what often happens is women brush off men’s attempts to help because they feel they can do it better.
Don’t allow her to ‘sit you on the bench” when it comes to the kids. Let her know she deserves some time alone or time with her friends because she works so hard, and create a space for you to connect with the kids.
7. To add value
Men by nature are problem solvers. Women just like to share, to talk things through and to feel heard. If you can shift your understanding to know that by simply being present and actively listening to your partner, you are adding value, then you will be miles ahead of most. Value does not always come in the form of action or solution.
After you have listened and heard you can say, “Babe, that is really frustrating. I thought of something that might help you. Are you interested or do you just need an ear right now?” Now that is adding golden value!
You have a lot of power to create freedom and happiness in your relationship. They key is understand that having needs does not make you needy, they make you human. The most effective way to relationship success is for you to start sharing them with your partner.
Action – share this article and discuss it with your partner. Ask her what her needs are. Do these accurately capture yours? Are there others? Just imagine how good things will get when your needs are being met.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.