Humans have an innate need for connection. Living in families, groups, societies ensured our survival as species. While today it is arguably easier to survive on one’s own, those deep-seated social needs are still there. I believe that when we don’t tend to them we begin seeing treatment resistant depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Turning away from people might work as a coping mechanism for some time but the lack of social ties will eventually catch up with us. It is hard to trick our wiring.
In my work with couples I noticed that those unattended human connection needs seem to be related to not having a secure and fulfilling relationship. Perhaps you grew up in a household that didn’t allow you to voice your needs and you learned to be quiet, small and invisible in order to make it out without punishment. Therefore, you didn’t have a chance to learn what your needs may be or what it may feel like to have them attended to.
I promise you we all have those relational needs, or attachment needs, they just may have been stuffed deep down. This can also greatly confuse your more connection-seeking partner who can’t figure out why you are so distant and cold. Back in the day, it wasn’t safe for you to connect and speak up. This is where I can come in and help change this dynamic. I like to address attachment needs with the couples I see.
Typically, attachment needs are categorized as follows:
· Feeling safe
· Feeling seen
· Feeling soothed
· Feeling supported and challenged
· Feeling valued and important
· Knowing you are not too much
· Knowing you appreciate my strengths as a partner
· Know my needs matter to you
· Know you can hear, understand and validate me
· Know you want me
· Know you view me as an equal partner
· Know you respect me
· Know you trust me
· Know I can trust you
· Know you will be there when I really need you
· Know I can get it right for you
We can take small and patient steps to build on those needs and learning that your needs can actually be welcome with love and safety. Your needs are valid and natural. Just don’t expect all your needs to be met by your partner alone which is something I addressed in the previous post.
Feeling connected isn’t going to magically make everything feel perfect and carefree but it will make you and your partner closer as you go through stress and transitions together, and that is a much stronger position to face challenges from.