May 11, 2004
Dr. Phil’s formula for a successful relationship is: The quality of a relationship is a function of the extent to which it is built on a solid underlying friendship and meets the needs of the two people involved.
Understand that you have needs in a number of different life categories, and that a certain number of these needs can be met only by other human beings. Just as important as understanding that you have complex needs is a realization that the word “need” is not a synonym for weakness. Rest assured that the fact that you have needs, and that you must rely on another person to meet them, is a good and healthy thing.
This formula for relationship success doesn’t work just some of the time — it works all the time. If you are completely happy in your relationship, but your partner simply is not, then you can bet that your partner’s needs are not being met. If your partner is happy and you are not, it’s your needs that are unmet.
If your partner is not meeting one of your needs, that is your responsibility. It is also very unfair to criticize your partner for not recognizing and meeting your needs when you don’t know them yourself. Your partner can’t read your mind; he or she can’t guess what your needs are. The only chance your partner will ever have of connecting with you and responding to your needs depends upon your teaching your partner what really makes you tick.
To make this formula work in your life, you’ve got two vitally important, complex, and dangerous jobs to complete:
Job One: Make your needs known, including those at the deepest level.
Allow yourself to feel that it is natural, it is OK, to have needs in general, and to have your specific needs in particular. Don’t think you have to justify or explain the why behind any of your needs. If you feel the need, that is enough. Your needs are not right or wrong, good or bad — they just are.
There are five categories of needs: Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, Social, and Security. Keep in mind that you cannot share with or teach your partner what you don’t know yourself. Get real with yourself to give the formula for relationship success a chance.
The following list is intended to stimulate your thoughts about the particular needs that are specific to you. Please remember that, because they are general, the listed needs should be considered as simply a place to start. You should be very specific about your own needs, to the point of including such details as time, place, frequency, and means of expression, as appropriate. As you come to an item that you think reflects a need within you, circle that item. At this point, don’t worry about how you expect your partner to respond to these needs. Just identify them so that you can communicate them.
1. The need to feel, and be told, that you are loved
2. The need to feel, and be told, that you are a valued, vital part of your partner’s life
3. The need to feel a sense of belonging to and with your partner
4. The need to feel respected as an individual
5. The need to feel needed for other than the tasks you perform (providing money, cooking, etc.)
6. The need to feel that you are a priority in your partner’s life
7. The need to feel special, above everyone else in your partner’s life
8. The need to feel that your partner is proud to call you his or her own
9. The need to feel that you are trusted as a responsible partner
10. The need to feel that your partner would choose you again
11. The need to feel that you have and can be forgiven for transgressions and flaws
12. The need to feel accepted, flaws, fallacies, and all
13. The need to feel that you and your partner are, above all else, close and trusted friends
14. The need to feel desired
15. The need to feel appreciated for who and what you are and do
16. The need to feel passion between you and your relationship partner
1. The need to be touched and caressed
2. The need to be kissed, even if casually
3. The need to be hugged or held
4. The need to feel that you are welcome in your partner’s personal space
5. The need to be physically welcomed when encountering your partner
6. The need to feel that you are part of a couple when interacting with the world
7. The need to feel encouraged and welcomed by nonverbal communications
8. The need for tenderness
9. The need for a satisfying and rewarding sexual life
1. The need to feel that your personal spiritual values are supported without judgment
2. The need to feel that your partner respects your spiritual needs
3. The need to share a spiritual life, even if that spiritual life is experienced differently by you and your partner
4. The need to know and feel that your individual beliefs and differences are respected, if not shared
1. The need to be remembered with calls and acknowledgments when apart
2. The need to feel that your partner will plan and structure his or her activities to include you
3. The need to feel that social activities are shared rather than experienced individually
4. The need for appropriate tenderness and support when in public
5. The need to be encouraged and supported physically and emotionally when in public
6. The need to hear sweet things in a social environment
7. The need to be encouraged and supported in social situations
8. The need to be treated with politeness and regard in social situations
9. The need to share fun and joy in social situations
10. The need to share a connection expressed through awareness and sensitivity from your partner
11. The need to share joy and laughter
12. The need to feel that you are the most important person in your partner’s life and awareness when in a crowded, busy social environment
1. The need to know that your partner will stand by you in times of distress or conflict
2. The need to feel that your partner will rally to your aid if needed
3. The need to feel input and control with regard to the emotional aspects of the relationship
4. The need to be supported by your partner
5. The need to know that your partner is loyal and committed
6. The need to know that your relationship will not be put at risk and hang in the balance because of any disagreements and confrontations
7. The need to know that your partner is committed permanently
8. The need to know that your partner is there for you in times of third-party conflicts and problems
9. The need to know that your partner is your soft place to fall
Job Two: Work to discover the needs of your partner.