How To Get Your Emotional Needs Met When Your Spouse Can't Be There For You

Pretending you don't have needs only makes you need those things more.

Spouse not meeting your emotional needs Prostock-Studio | Canva

Even the best of relationships can be painful at times. But, when your attempts to connect with your spouse are met with silence or refusal, it can start to feel lonely and rejected. It can make us question ourselves, and our relationship. It might even make us feel unimportant or unseen.

But you don't have to wait for your partner or spouse to meet your needs. 

How to make sure your own needs are being met 

1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness can be a powerful tool in managing emotional distress. By learning to stay present and acknowledge your feelings without judgment, you’ll be able to better understand your emotional needs. To practice mindfulness, try focusing on your breath for a few minutes each day, noticing body sensations through a body scan, or engaging fully in everyday activities like eating or walking. 


These techniques ground you, reduce anxiety, and foster inner calm. Mindfulness is the first step towards change, as awareness is the first step towards improving your emotional well-being.

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2. Lead with self-compassion

Practicing self-compassion can have a huge impact on our emotional well-being. Shaming ourselves for being ‘needy’ or ‘emotional’ not only doesn’t feel good — it’s also ineffective. It might be uncharted territory, but practice treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a friend facing similar struggles. When dealing with unmet emotional needs, learn to acknowledge your pain without self-criticism and remind yourself that it’s OK to feel this way. 

Engage in activities that nurture your well-being, such as taking breaks, By being gentle with yourself, you create a supportive inner environment that can help you navigate difficult emotions and build resilience.

@israajnasir 1. Identify your emotional needs. Reflect on what you’re feeling and what you require from others to feel supported, validated, or understood.2. Give yourself permission to acknowledge and prioritize your emotions.3. Begin by expressing your emotional needs to someone you trust, such as a close friend or family member. Start with simple requests or sharing your feelings about a particular situation.4. When expressing your emotional needs, use “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory or confrontational. For example, say “I feel overwhelmed and could use some help” instead of “You never help me with anything.” If someone gets upset with you for having emotional needs, it doesn’t mean your needs don’t matter. #emotionalneeds #emotionalnegelect #emotionalhealing #coreemotions ♬ original sound - Israa Nasir

3. Get honest with yourself about how it makes you feel

It's essential to acknowledge and validate your own emotions. What we resist persists, and the worst thing we can do in these moments is to emotionally abandon ourselves. Reflect on how your partner’s lack of emotional responsiveness affects you. Write it down, talk it out with a trusted friend, or just sit with those feelings. 


If sitting with the feelings is too difficult, try setting a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and practice allowing the feelings for a short window of time to start with. This self-honesty is a crucial step in addressing your emotional needs.

4. Self-regulate

Learning to self-regulate is about managing your emotions effectively. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, cold showers, or even a brisk walk can help. The possibilities for self-regulation are endless, and learning which options work best for you takes willingness and practice. The goal of self-regulation is to help soothe your nervous system. When we can get ourselves out of flight or flight, we can approach the situation with a clearer mind.

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5. Reapproach the situation with your partner

It can be hard to reapproach your partner when you already feel rejected. But, emotional distance is something that often begets more emotional distance. While you can't force your partner to emotionally connect, avoiding the conversation isn't helpful either.

Pay close attention to your partner's emotional cues and responses. Sometimes, slight adjustments in how you communicate your needs can make a significant difference in how the conversation goes. Using a soft startup and offering validation can set a positive tone when approaching a conversation with your partner. Begin gently and express your feelings without blame, acknowledging their perspective to foster mutual understanding and connection. 

If you’ve already tried this with your partner more than once and are being met with the same response, it’s best to disengage. Admittedly, navigating this can be a tricky balance between approaching and stepping back.

Her Spouse Can't Meet Her Emotional Needs Just Life via Shutterstock


6. Give them space

Sometimes, giving your partner space can help them feel less pressured and more open to connecting emotionally. This doesn't mean shutting down communication but rather respecting their need for time to process their emotions.

7. Self-regulate again

Learning to emotionally regulate is an ongoing process, and coming back to self-regulation can help maintain your emotional equilibrium when ongoing attempts to connect feel futile. Practice mindfulness and emotional regulation techniques to soothe your nervous system as often as needed. Regularly engage in activities that promote relaxation and emotional balance.


emotional regulation is one of the most important skills we can cultivate!

♬ original sound - Anna Akana

8. Practice acceptance

I understand that accepting your partner’s lack of emotional response can be a difficult and painful thing to do. Acceptance doesn’t mean that it’s okay for us to not get our needs met, it’s about letting ourselves off the hook for trying to change the reality of the situation. Accept that you cannot control your partner's emotional responses. 


Acceptance is not resignation but rather an acknowledgment of the situation as it is. This mindset can alleviate some of the frustration and hurt that comes from unmet emotional needs.

Confident woman looks in mirror to meet her emotional needs Studio Grand Web via Shutterstock

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9. Focus on your own goals

Shifting your focus to personal goals and interests can be empowering. By investing in your growth and well-being, you create a sense of fulfillment that is not solely dependent on your partner. If you have interests that you’ve been ignoring, or new ones you’ve been wanting to try out, this is a great time to get involved.

10. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist

We all need connection and support. It’s part of being human. Social support can help us self-regulate and become more resilient. When we’re unable to get support from a partner, turning to friends, family, or a therapist can provide emotional support that your partner cannot. These relationships can offer a sense of belonging and validation that help us regulate ourselves better in return.

11. Give it time

Relationships are dynamic and can change over time. Give yourself and your partner time to adapt and grow. Regularly reassess the situation to see if there are improvements. Staying in an emotionally distant relationship long term may not align with your relationship goals, but every relationship goes through changes, and giving it time can provide great perspective.

@pride_therapy Many couples report feeling disconnected and will break up after growing apart. This is usually due to “micro-rejections” over time. How are you doing with putting in effort into your relarionship? #wlw #lesbiancouple #wlwcouple #lgbt #gaymarriage #relationshipadvice #lgbttherapist #lgbtq #queerlove #lesbiancouplegoals #lgbtmentalhealth ♬ original sound - Pride_Therapy🏳️‍🌈

While our partners can’t show up for us the way we need them to all the time, emotional connection is important to the survival of relationships. According to Dr. John Gottman, a researcher, author, and psychologist, partners who have successful long-term marriages can turn towards each other’s emotional bids for connection around 86 percent of the time.

Happy woman in park has met her emotional needs Mix and Match Studio via Shutterstock


Contrary to pop culture beliefs, it’s OK to need reassurance, closeness, and validation from our partners - it doesn’t make us clingy, needy, or high maintenance, it just makes us human. We’re biologically wired for emotional attachment, after all.

The situation you’re in right now might be painful, but you have the inner strength and resources to show up for yourself. Even if your partner does come around, you’ll never regret learning how to meet your own emotional needs.

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Blair Nastasi is a Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT), CEO of an international PR agency, and proud San Diego resident. She is a freelance writer and a self-proclaimed force to be reckoned with.