As humans, we are designed to thrive on connections. We actively seek out relationships, and want to both love and be loved in return. In doing so, we put our trust in the other person to make us feel safe, both physically and emotionally - without this vital reassurance, relationships cannot flourish and we cannot truly be ourselves. 

When we talk about safety in a relationship, we're not just referring to physical security; we're delving into the depths of emotional well-being and trust. How can you know if you're truly feeling safe in your relationship? The answer often lies in assessing whether your needs and wants are being met. But how do you know whether they are, and how can you tell the difference between the two?


Understanding Needs and Wants in Relationships

Initially it can be hard to tell the difference between needs and wants in a relationship. It can, at first glance, feel like they are the same thing but while they are intricately linked, there is a clear difference between the two. Needs are the fundamental building blocks of emotional well-being. They include things like trust, respect, communication, and support. On the other hand, wants are desires and preferences that, while not essential for survival, enrich our emotional connection. These might encompass shared hobbies, quality time, or shared dreams.

It can help to imagine needs as the strong foundation of a house. Without them, the structure becomes unstable. Once we have this solid foundation, our wants can be considered as the decorations and soft furnishing that transform our solid walls into something comforting and safe. While it is crucial that both our wants and needs are met, only our needs are non-negotiable when it comes to our emotional safety.  

The Significance of Feeling Safe

Feeling safe in a relationship is akin to finding shelter in a storm; it allows you to be your authentic self, to express your thoughts and feelings without fear, and to open up to your partner in meaningful ways. Safety nurtures vulnerability, trust, and open communication—essential elements of a thriving relationship. 

When you feel safe, you're more likely to share your thoughts, fears, and aspirations with your partner. Trust is the glue that holds relationships together, and a sense of safety is what allows trust to flourish. Understanding your needs is a significant step toward assessing your relationship's safety. It's not just about recognizing these needs within yourself but also about being able to articulate them to your partner.

How can you tell if your needs are being met within your relationship? There are several signs to look out for. When your needs are met, you'll likely feel heard and understood by your partner. Your opinions and feelings will be respected, and you'll have a sense of emotional support. Feeling valued and cherished are also indicators that your needs are being acknowledged and honored.

Take a moment to consider if you recognize these signs in your relationship. Acknowledging their presence can be a powerful affirmation of your emotional well-being.

Exploring Wants for Deeper Connection

Needs are the foundation, but wants add the colours and textures to your relationship. Exploring your wants can lead to a deeper sense of connection and shared purpose. It's about discovering common interests, dreams, and aspirations - sharing your wants with your partner can open up new avenues for bonding and intimacy and help you to find a deeper connection with each other. 

It may seem frivolous, but discussing your wants within a relationship can be just as important as addressing what you need. It's an opportunity to nurture the unique aspects of your relationship and create shared experiences that you both treasure.

To truly assess your relationship's safety, open communication is key. This can be achieved by creating a safe space where you and your partner can discuss both your needs and wants openly. Encourage active listening and using "I" statements to express your feelings without blame, judgement or criticism. 

When you can communicate openly about your needs and wants, you're taking a giant leap toward fostering relationship safety. It's about building bridges of understanding and empathy between you and your partner.


Seeking Professional Guidance

Putting this into practice can feel tricky as assessing your relationship's safety is an ongoing process, and learning to do so effectively can take time. It can help if you both periodically take the time to evaluate if your needs and wants align with your partner's actions and intentions. Are you both making efforts to meet each other's needs? Are you exploring your wants together, nurturing the unique aspects of your relationship? This assessment isn't about placing blame or finding fault. It's about understanding where you are in your relationship journey and what steps you can take to enhance safety and connection. Done correctly, this regular assessment of your relationship will only serve to enhance your connection and understanding of your partner. 

Sometimes, the journey to assessing and improving relationship safety may require the assistance of a professional. Relationship counsellors such as myself are skilled at mediating difficult conversations and providing tools for effective communication. If you find it challenging to navigate these discussions with your partner, don't hesitate to seek expert guidance. Seeking support is a sign of strength, and it can be a transformative step in your relationship journey.

If you need help navigating tricky discussions within your relationship, get in touch with me to see how I could help on 07305 920437.