unmet needs in a relationship
unmet needs in a relationship

Understanding Your Unmet Needs in a Relationship

What are unmet needs in a relationship?

unmet needs pexels gustavo fring

Unmet needs in a relationship are those that are not satisfactorily addressed on an emotional, psychological, physical, or practical level by the other person.

These needs are essential for a person’s health and happiness as well as the health and success of a relationship.

When these needs are not met, it can result in feelings of resentment, disappointment, and dissatisfaction in the relationship.

For example, if your partner does not provide enough physical touch or emotional connection, a need for affection and physical intimacy in your relationship may go unmet, leading to feelings of isolation and disconnection.

In the next section I will share common unmet needs in a relationship, but here is another example, suppose your partner is excessively clingy or possessive, personal space and independence may be compromised.

This unmet need can lead to feelings of suffocation and a lack of freedom which can trigger other relationship problems such as relationship insecurity.

To resolve issues of unmet needs in a relationship, first you must identify them and establish their root cause. You can identify most unmet needs through self-awareness and introspection.

Thereafter, you and your partner must be open and honest with one another about your feelings and your expectations from the relationship in order to address these unmet needs. This calls for effective communication.

This can entail attentive listening, empathy, and a willingness to compromise and collaborate to find solutions that satisfy your needs.

You may also find it helpful to seek outside assistance, such as through couple counselling or therapy, especially if you find it difficult to communicate openly. In fact, a lack of open and honest communication can be a major source of unmet needs in a relationship.

Being a “master key” in relationships, a lot of information on open communication has been extensively covered on this site, hence shall not be discussed in great detail in the following common unmet needs in a relationship.

Common Unmet Needs in a Relationship

What are examples of unmet needs in a relationship?

Unmet needs in a relationship may be the source of your dissatisfaction, as well as your feelings of frustration and loneliness. You know those unfulfilled desires, wants, and longings?

These can range from simple desires for more love and attention to intense emotional desires for trust and intimacy.

15 most common unmet needs in a relationship

needs in a relationship
needs in a relationship
needs in a relationship
1. Attention and affection6. Emotional support11. Physical touch
2. Trust and honesty7. Validation12. Sexual intimacy
3. Respect8. Sense of security13. Quality time
4. Independence9. Personal growth14. Acts of service
5. Support10. Emotional intimacy15. Shared activities
Emotional, psychological and physical common unmet needs in a relationship

Let’s discuss each of the 15 unmet needs in a relationship in detail, how each can impact your relationship and how to resolve them.

Unmet needs can harm your relationship by causing conflict, mistrust, and emotional separation between you and your partner.

These unmet needs in a relationship have the potential to trigger conflicts and can even end your relationship if they are not addressed.

Emotional Unmet Needs in a relationship

1. Attention and affection

A healthy and satisfying relationship requires both attention and affection. Neglecting your partner’s need for love and attention can have detrimental effects on you both.

For instance, if you are constantly preoccupied with your work, interests, or hobbies, your partner might feel unappreciated and unimportant. They might think you’re not paying attention to them, don’t care about how they’re feeling, or don’t have time for them.

This can result in loneliness, or feeling cut off from you and even the relationship itself.

When your partner is lonely or lacks emotional connection, they may believe they are missing out on something vital to their well-being.

They may become frustrated, sad, or angry and begin to withdraw from the relationship, leading to even more emotional distance.

This can become a vicious cycle, leading to increased feelings of loneliness, disconnection, and dissatisfaction.

To resolve this unmet need, you must work with your partner to prioritise your relationship and make time for each other, as well as show regular attention and affection.

This could include setting aside time each week for a date night, finding activities you both enjoy and doing them together, or simply making a point to listen to and show affection to each other every day.

Unmet needs in a relationship can set you and your partner emotionally apart. By addressing this unmet need, you can strengthen your emotional connection, reduce feelings of loneliness, and create a more fulfilling relationship.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

2. Trust and Honesty

If you and your partner are unable to trust one another or if one of you is dishonest, then a need for trust and honesty may not be met. This unmet need may cause feelings of insecurity and a lack of faith in your relationship.

Dishonesty, secrecy, or betrayal may reveal your unmet need for trust and honesty. For example, you or your partner may consistently conceal your spending habits or cheat on each other.

This lack of trust and honesty can lead to feelings of insecurity and mistrust in your relationship, causing significant damage to your emotional connection.

To resolve this unmet need, you and your partner must make an intentional effort to be transparent and trustworthy in your actions and behaviour.

This can include practising open and honest communication, establishing clear boundaries, and committing to always being truthful with one another.

While rebuilding trust and honesty in a relationship can be a slow and difficult process, you can strengthen your emotional connection and build a more stable and trustworthy relationship by working together to address this unmet need.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

3. Respect

You need to feel respected in your relationship, both as a partner and as an individual. The same holds true for your partner, which calls for respecting and attending to each other’s needs and feelings.

Lack of mutual respect between you and your partner may point to unmet needs in a relationship.

Criticism, condescension, or belittling behaviour may be signs that your need for respect is not being met. For instance, your partner might consistently criticise your decisions or discount your ideas and opinions.

This lack of respect can cause you to feel hurt, irritated, and cause your relationship with your partner to become less emotionally connected overall.

To address this unmet need, you must both make a concerted effort to treat each other with dignity and respect. Active listening, validating each other’s feelings and perspectives, and refraining from criticising or belittling behaviour can all contribute to this.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

4. Independence

Independence is essential for a healthy and satisfying relationship because it allows you and your partner to pursue your own interests and goals outside of the relationship.

Control, possession, or micromanaging tendencies could be signs that your need for independence isn’t being met. For example, you may believe that you are constantly being told what to do or that your every move is being watched.

Perhaps you believe you have no say over what you wear or who you associate with.

This lack of autonomy can cause suffocation, resentment, and a deterioration in the emotional bond between you two.

To address this unmet need, you and your partner must work together to strike a balance between your relationship and your own interests and goals.

While respecting each other’s boundaries, allowing each other the space and freedom to pursue one’s own interests and goals outside of the relationship, and supporting one another in these pursuits, could all contribute to a successful intervention.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

5. Support

A supportive and encouraging partner is essential for a healthy and fulfilling relationship because it allows you to feel acknowledged and appreciated for your efforts and goals.

If this need is not met, you may feel discouraged or inadequate, which can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and disconnection in the relationship.

Let’s say you are depressed because your driving test was unsuccessful. Your partner shows you comfort, listens to your worries, and reassures you of their love and appreciation for you.

Your emotional need for affection and connection is satisfied when you receive this kind of support because it makes you feel heard and understood.

On the other hand, if you don’t receive support and encouragement, you might feel abandoned, unloved, or worthless and unsupported, which can cause negative feelings and relationship dissatisfaction.

Like all other unmet needs in a relationship, it takes two to make things better. You must both work on bolstering and motivating one another in order to address this unmet need.

This could entail expressing gratitude for one another’s efforts and goals, serving as one another’s sounding board, and consistently providing words of encouragement.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

Psychological unmet needs in a relationship

6. Emotional support

A healthy relationship involves listening to each other’s thoughts and feelings and providing comfort. It also involves feeling that your partner is emotionally supportive and understanding, especially during stressful or challenging times.

Assume you are worried about a major life change, such as relocating to a new city, without your partner. In the process, your partner offers practical assistance and resources, as well as encouragement and motivation, and respects your independence and self-esteem.

This kind of emotional support makes you feel safe and confident, which satisfies your psychological need for stability and security.

However, if on the other hand your need for emotional support is unmet during trying times, say when you lose your job, you might feel as though you are not getting comfort and support.

This absence of emotional support can result in feelings of isolation, annoyance, and a decline in the emotional bond you share with your partner. Unmet needs in a relationship can create a feeling of emptiness.

To address this unmet need, you must both make a coordinated effort to provide emotional support to one another. This can include active listening, validation of feelings, and offering comfort and understanding during difficult times. Again, communication is key here.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

7. Validation

Validation entails recognising and accepting your partner’s emotions, ideas, and experiences. Your partner may feel unheard, dismissed, or unimportant when they are made to feel invalidated.

For instance, if you frequently brush off your partner’s worries or label them as overreacting or irrational, they might feel invalidated.

Of course, it could also go the other way, with you feeling invalidated because your partner doesn’t accept your feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

This lack of validation can result in feelings of rejection, low self-esteem, and emotional disconnect.

To address this unmet need, you should actively listen to each other, be open-minded and non-judgmental, and express empathy and understanding to each other on a regular basis.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

8. Sense of Security

A sense of security in a relationship refers to the feeling that you and your partner have a stable, committed, and safe relationship.

This is where you have complete confidence in your opinion that your partner is “always” there for you.

When this need is not met, you might start to have second thoughts about the relationship, worry that your partner will leave you, or worry about their feelings.

For instance, you might feel uneasy if your partner frequently flirts with other people or unexpectedly withdraws emotionally without any explanation.

This unfulfilled need can harm a relationship by causing feelings of worry, jealousy, or mistrust. Unmet needs in a relationship can destabilise your sense of security.

You can address this unmet need by prioritising communication and transparency, acting consistently, and fostering a sense of security and trust among yourselves through the sharing of experiences and objectives.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

9. Personal growth

Personal growth refers to the opportunity for both you and your partner to develop and grow as individuals within the relationship.

You are likely to seek out new challenges and take direct action, often with zeal, enthusiasm and dedication, in order to achieve your goals and continue to grow and improve. Being in a relationship does not have to limit your dreams.

You may experience stifling, unfulfillment, or a sense that you are not growing if this need is not met, especially that this need is passion driven.

Without a doubt, if your partner dissuades you from pursuing your passions, goals, or interests, you might feel that your personal growth is not being met.

Having this unmet need can lead to feelings of resentment, boredom, or frustration, which can have a bad effect on a relationship. Unmet needs in a relationship can bring about a feeling of low self esteem and lack of confidence.

You can encourage and support one another’s personal development and partake in shared interests and activities while respecting each other’s independence in order to fill this unmet need.

Encourage your partner by asking them about their interests and offering to share information about your own. Be enthusiastic and encouraging to one another while listening to each other’s viewpoints.

Have an interest in one another’s interests by supporting one another emotionally and practically as you work towards your objectives.

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10. Emotional Intimacy

The term “emotional intimacy” refers to the degree to which two people are emotionally connected. Sharing your most private self with your partner requires the ability to be completely honest and open with them.

When this need is not met, you may feel emotionally distant, disconnected, or unheard.

This can be realised for example if you don’t feel heard or seen by your partner, or if you can’t express your emotions honestly and openly, you might feel emotionally cut off from them.

This unmet need can have a negative impact on a relationship by causing feelings of loneliness, sadness, or dissatisfaction. Unmet needs in a relationship can lead to secretive behavior and conflict.

To address this unmet need, prioritise communication and emotional expression, participate in activities that promote emotional bonding, and make an effort to understand each other’s emotional experiences.

If you are struggling with emotional intimacy, I encourage you to do most or all of the following to promote emotional bonding in your relationship:

  1. Spend quality time with one another– schedule time to do things like watch a movie, cook, or simply talk.
  2. Share personal anecdotes and experiences – This can help develop emotional intimacy by fostering open dialogue and vulnerability.
  3. Be physically affectionate – behaviours such as holding hands or cuddling can make you feel closer to one another.
  4. Engage in meaningful conversation and practice active listening – This activity can help you comprehend and empathise with one another.
  5. Pursue shared interests – Similar to 1 above, engage in activities such as gardening or taking dance classes together. This can bring you closer together.
  6. Practice gratitude – Concentrate on what you appreciate about your partner. This can aid in the development of emotional intimacy.
  7. Express affection and appreciation -Express love and appreciation to your partner on a regular basis to help strengthen emotional intimacy.
  8. Work together to solve problems – This activity can foster emotional intimacy by encouraging teamwork, cooperation and collaboration.
  9. Practice forgiveness – Being able to forgive and move on from disagreements can help you maintain emotional intimacy.
  10. Spend time alone – This may sound a little counter productive, but can help you and your partner recharge and bring new experiences to the relationship, which can improve emotional intimacy.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

Physical Unmet needs in a relationship

11. Physical touch

A relationship’s physical intimacy is crucial because it strengthens the bond between you and your partner and fosters feelings of security, comfort, and belonging.

Lack of physical contact in a relationship can lead to loneliness and unmet needs for connection.

Suppose you are constantly preoccupied at work and don’t make time for physical affection like cuddling, holding hands, or hugging, your partner might feel overlooked and unimportant as a result.

Unmet needs in a relationship can put an incredible strain in your relationship.

As a solution, you can as a couple decide to intentionally include physical contact in your daily activities, such as hugging each other when you see each other, holding hands while walking, or cuddling on the couch.

However, it is important that you set boundaries to ensure that you are comfortable with each other and understand the do’s and don’ts. Basically you must be on the same page.

For example, you may not want to be touched in a certain way in public and failure to observe this boundary may lead to embarrasment or conflict.

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12. Sexual intimacy

Sexual intimacy is an important part of any relationship because it fosters both physical and emotional closeness between you and your partner.

In a relationship, a lack of sexual intimacy can lead to feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction. If not addressed, this can serve as a catalyst for cheating.

When this need is not met, you might feel rejected and unappreciated if, for example, your partner is frequently too tired for sex or has a low level of sex drive.

You can address this by scheduling regular time for sexual intimacy, having open and honest conversations about your desires and needs, and seeking help from a therapist or doctor if necessary. Go here if you want to learn more about intimacy issues.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

13. Quality time

Quality time refers to spending focused, uninterrupted time with your partner. Feelings of loneliness and detachment might arise from a lack of quality time in a relationship.

Let’s use the same example as before. Consider the situation where you never have time for your relationship because you’re too busy with job, friends, or other commitments.

Without doubt your partner can feel unappreciated and ignored as a result of this.

Make a point of scheduling frequent quality time, whether it be a date night, a weekend getaway, or just spending time together while making supper, in order to solve this. Note that you must be fully focused on each other at this time.

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14. Acts of service

When you do something for your partner without being asked, you are performing an act of service.

Lack of selfless deeds in a relationship might make one feel neglected and resentful.

A situation like this could occur when your partner consistently expects you to handle all the household duties or errands without offering to help. You may experience stress and fatigue as a result of this. This is only an illustration, and could be true for your partner if you never offer them help.

Unmet needs in a relationship can be the cause of relationship imbalance.

To combat this, you should openly and honestly talk about it and consciously choose to perform acts of kindness for one another, such as washing the dishes, putting fuel in the car, or preparing a cup of tea.

Just do something, even if you think the gesture is minor, in fact, it is the small things that get noticed and readily appreciated.

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15. Shared activities

Shared activities involve doing something as a couple, such as a hobby, sport, or simply spending time together.

For your relationship to be happy and healthy, there must be shared hobbies and interests since this enables you to bond over common interests and experiences. If this need is unmet in a relationship, it can lead to feelings of boredom and disconnection.

Assume you always want to watch TV while your partner wants to go out and do things with you. As a result, you may both become bored, frustrated and disinterested in the relationship.

To resolve this unmet need, you need to work on finding shared activities and interests. This could involve trying new things together such as taking a dance class, participating in a sport, or trying a new restaurant.

Basically, talk things out and explore each other’s hobbies and interests, and most importantly, find common ground.

By addressing this unmet need, you can reduce feelings of boredom, build a stronger foundation of shared experiences, and create a more fulfilling relationship.

Generally, it is important to work together as a team to meet each other’s unmet needs. You must also both be prepared to compromise and be flexible for you to meet your unmet needs in a healthy and balanced manner.

Back to the top 15 common unmet needs table

The Benefits of Meeting Unmet Needs in a Relationship

Working Together to Meet Your Unmet Needs

Meeting unmet needs in a relationship can lead to greater happiness and satisfaction. Such a healthy and balanced relationship can increase emotional and physical intimacy while also improving your overall well-being and personal growth.

1. When you work together to meet each other’s unmet needs, your intimacy and emotional bond will deepen. Active listening, honest communication, and mutual support can all help.

2. Addressing unmet needs in a relationship can help improve communication by encouraging healthy and productive expression of thoughts and feelings. This can lead to a better understanding of each other’s points of view, needs, and desires.

3. Meeting unfulfilled needs may result in more happiness and contentment in your relationship. If you both feel heard and respected in the relationship, you are more likely to be satisfied and pleased with it.

4. Addressing unmet needs can help you resolve conflicts and reduce tension in your relationship. This is because you can better understand and address each other’s desires and perspectives, which leads to a more harmonious relationship.

5. Making an effort to meet each other’s unmet needs shows a level of commitment and care in your relationship. This can lead to more trust and stability in the relationship, fostering a more secure and loving bond.

You can enjoy the advantages of increased intimacy, stronger communication, higher pleasure and fulfilment, enhanced trust, and better conflict resolution by attending to unmet needs in your relationship. These advantages may result in a more solid and contented bond.

How to Address Unmet Needs in a Relationship

Addressing unmet needs in a relationship requires open and honest conversations, along with a willingness to listen and understand your partner’s perspective. Here are some tips to help you address unmet needs in your relationship:

  • Carry out a self-reflection and introspection for signs your needs aren’t being met
  • Encourage open and honest conversations about what each of you needs and want from the relationship.
  • Be willing to listen and understand your partner’s perspective, and work together to find a solution that meets both of your needs. This can also help in the balance of power in a relationship.
  • Find a balance between individual and shared needs, this is key to meeting your unmet needs in a relationship.
  • Prioritize your needs and wants, while also taking into consideration your partner’s needs and wants.
  • Be willing to compromise as sometimes unmet needs are simply a result of differences in preferences or expectations.
  • Think about getting a professional therapist or counsellor to assist you. They can provide you an unbiased viewpoint, assist you in communicating clearly, and aid you in identifying and overcoming your unmet needs.

By taking these steps, you can work together to identify and meet each other’s emotional, physical, and psychological needs, which can help to create a stronger, more fulfilling relationship.

Video: Communicating your needs in a relationship

In this YouTube video, Lanz McDonald discusses how to communicate your needs effectively in a relationship to maintain healthy communication.

Lanz advises viewers to establish themselves as high-value individuals in their relationship, visualize the best version of their relationship, and approach their partner with specific and non-accusatory statements.

She suggests that people get specific about what they want and avoid attacking their partner, and reminds viewers to approach issues from a place of love and care, rather than anger or defensiveness.

How to communicate your needs


Identifying unmet emotional, physical, and psychological needs in a relationship can be a challenging process, but it’s an important step towards addressing your unmet needs and creating a stronger and more fulfilling relationship.

To resolve unmet needs in a relationship, open and honest communication is key to first identifying the unmet needs. Pay attention to your emotions and feelings, and try to identify what may be causing any negative emotions or dissatisfaction.

If you find yourself upset, frustrated, or dissatisfied, it is critical that you try to understand why. This could indicate an unmet need that must be addressed. For example, if you believe your partner isn’t paying you enough attention, this could indicate that your need for attention and affection isn’t being met.

Take some time to reflect on what you need emotionally, physically, and psychologically from your relationship. Thereafter you should talk openly about your feelings, desires, and expectations, and be willing to listen to each other’s perspectives. This also calls for compromise and flexibility.

It is critical in a relationship to meet each other’s emotional, physical, and psychological needs for both your personal well-being and the relationship’s overall success.

Unmet needs in a relationship can cause a wide range of negative emotions, including frustration, resentment, and conflict, which can lead to a breakup, if left unaddressed.

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