Your Partner Can't Fulfill All Your Emotional Needs

Do you feel that your partner doesn't meet your emotional needs? Believe it or not, marriage counselors and experts agree only YOU can satisfy those needs. Read on to learn much more.
Your Partner Can't Fulfill All Your Emotional Needs
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 19 August, 2022

Everyone has emotional needs. Consider basic survival needs like water, air, food, and shelter. Meeting these physical needs means you can stay alive. It takes much more to give life meaning. For instance, you can’t see or touch things like companionship, affection, security, or appreciation. However, these needs are also valuable. Most importantly, the same goes for feeling heard or valued.

In a relationship , the strength of your bond can make a big difference. For example, in whether you both get your needs met. You may feel that your spouse doesn’t meet your emotional needs. Luckily, marriage counselors and psychology experts generally agree that only you can satisfy those needs. You shouldn’t consider yourself an empty emotional vessel to be filled by your spouse. 

You need to take responsibility for your own fulfillment. Therefore, the best way to do that is to consider and satisfy your spouse’s needs first. Although every relationship looks a little different, the following information is a great starting point. In the end, you’ll know whether you get what you need from the relationship.

“If you can’t love me like I deserve, leave. Someone will come who can enjoy who I am.” 

Walter Riso-

Two people on bicycles.

Meeting your spouse’s emotional needs

Firstly, an emotional need is a craving that, when satisfied, leaves you with a feeling. For example, both happiness and contentment. “When no one satisfies that need, it leaves you feeling very unhappy. Likewise, it also makes you feel utterly frustrated,” says Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. He’s a clinical psychologist, marriage counselor, and acclaimed author.

His numerous books on marriage and relationships include His Needs, Her Needs . Of course, this masterpiece focuses on the needs of men and women. Most importantly, it shows husbands and wives how to satisfy those needs in their spouses. According to Harley, satisfying your own emotional needs is difficult. He refers to putting your spouse’s desires ahead of your own.

Secondly, a famous online relationship portal completely agrees. “There are many keys for success in long-term , committed relationships. Properly understanding the emotional needs of your partner is one of the keys. In other words, you’re not responsible for meeting all of your partner’s needs. You certainly should put those needs ahead of your own.

Some emotional needs

Firstly, some of these needs include affection, conversation, honesty, and openness. Likewise, financial support and family commitment. It’s like the old saying, ”With love, the more you give, the more you get back”. Are you ready to check out other important needs?


Having empathy means you can imagine how someone else feels. This ability is essential to romantic relationships. In other words, it helps people understand each other and build deeper bonds. Say they forget your birthday. Therefore, you feel angry and hurt. After five years together, how could they? You never forgot their birthday. Fortunately, after your rush of disappointment and anger, you start to consider their side.


Firstly, trust and security often go hand in hand. It’s hard to feel emotionally safe with someone you can’t trust. When you trust someone, you know they look out for you. Just as they look out for themselves. Therefore, don’t start to doubt them, bringing up specific behaviors. For example, staying out late without explanation. This helps you get to the bottom of what’s going on. Likewise, you can touch base on communication needs.


Connecting is very important, and so is space. In other words, space within a relationship means you both have the freedom to do your own thing. You feel supported. However, you know you can make your own choices. Healthy relationships also mean you still enjoy some privacy. For instance, separate spaces to work or relax at home. Lastly, space refers to emotional privacy. When it comes to space, asking what you need is key.

Other important emotional needs

Every relationship is utterly different. Luckily, this new set of needs is a good starting point.


Believe it or not, it’s okay not to do everything together. It’s great to maintain separate interests for individual emotional health. Most importantly, keeping separate friendships is good for the health of your relationship. However, you probably want to feel connected at the same time. That’s perfectly understandable. What are relationships for, if not sharing your life? Without connection, you can feel lonely, even when you spend most of your time together.


Secondly, as a relationship deepens, partners often begin sharing things. For example, interests, activities, and other aspects of daily life. You might notice you became more of a unit as you grow closer. No matter how strong your relationship becomes, autonomy is highly vital. In fact, it’s essential to maintain your sense of self. You surely have plenty of things in common, but you’re two separate people with unique goals. You also share unique hobbies, friends, and values. Isn’t that a good thing?


Even the closest partners don’t always see eye to eye, and that’s okay. When you don’t completely agree, you still want to know they care. For instance, that they heard your concerns. Likewise, they understood where you came from. According to recent research, most couples find it important to operate on the same wavelength. Therefore, when your partner completely fails to see your perspective, you feel misunderstood. If they dismiss your feelings entirely, you feel they ignored you.

Ask exactly for what you need

Whether you and your other half are married or just dating, all relationships go through different phases. Are you in the mindset of being a very loving and giving spouse? Of course, you can now start to advocate for your own needs. However, you have to be really careful about how you go about it.

When you want your spouse to perform some action to magically meet your needs, be careful. Believe it or not, “You’re really asking for them to change,” says Barton Goldsmith. “Unluckily, that’s nearly an impossible request.” Barton is a brilliant psychotherapist and syndicated columnist for the famous Psychology Today

This renowned website features therapy and health professionals’ advice with hundreds of blogs. On the other hand, parters should try to be utterly direct. “Ask exactly for what you need,” adds Barton. “Do you want change, understanding, or compatibility? Whatever your need, asking for it directly will help. Lastly, it’ll greatly improve your chances of getting it.”

Show your spouse that you care

Every relationship out there has its ups and downs. It’s at this point that the need for reciprocation comes into play. Keep showing your beloved spouse that you value and care for them. For example, do those things that, generally, put your partner’s needs ahead of your own. “Surely, if people feel valued, they’ll do the best they can. Not only to keep your opinion of them high but also to love you,” says Barton.

“Reminding your spouse that you know your life is much better thanks to them, is very loving. Most importantly, it’s very motivational.” Make sure you perfectly know what your partner wants and values. For instance, is it a home-cooked meal or is it a spontaneous bouquet of flowers? Likewise, many people prefer a special dinner at a fancy restaurant, others prefer a quick burger at a fast-food restaurant.” 

Many people value it when their partners fix that leaky faucet or loose door handle. Above all, any act of kindness goes a long way. It doesn’t really matter what the act of kindness might be. Therefore, the important thing is that your spouse knows you value them. Or that you know exactly what they want and need. Most importantly, that you’re ready to provide it without being asked. This effort to understand and willingness to give is pivotal to a good marriage and partnership. Ultimately, to have your own needs met.

Take responsibility for yourself

You must be responsible for yourself. In other words, understand that you’re in a relationship to bond with your spouse. Likewise, to share events—big or small—and to build a life together. “Sadly, many people have an expectation that only their spouses will fulfill them. When this happens, we set ourselves up for disappointment.”

“No human being should satisfy another human being,” says Mark Altrogge. Mark is a famous pastor at an Indiana church. Likewise, he’s the genius man behind the marriage website the Blazing Center. “To hope that another human can meet our needs is asking too much of anyone.” Expectations are “killers,” adds Altrogge. 

Secondly, he explained that all humans in the world are fallible. Every person out there should have their own wants and needs. However, that’s unlikely to change, in your spouse or anyone else. “Don’t look at where your spouse needs to change,” he says. “Therefore, look exactly where you need to change. Don’t have expectations of your spouse.” 

Do you have many expectations for your partner? Try placing them on yourself. Robert Fulghum explained it well in his classic book. He entitled the 1986 book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Likewise, his book also features some of his basic rules. For example, share everything, hold hands, and stick together.

woman that can't be happy for others


The bottom line

Firstly, it’s highly possible for your partner to completely meet your needs. Secondly, it’s also possible for you to perfectly meet your partner’s needs. Usually, it just involves some problem-solving and collaboration. What does collaboration truly depend on? Good communication. Discussing your needs with your partner is typically the best place to begin. 

However, if you can’t communicate, you probably can’t explore needs fulfillment together. Are you struggling to get started? Don’t worry. Many couples in the world go through the same issue. Therefore, couples therapy can offer a safe, judgment-free space to begin talking through your concerns.

In short, it’s imperative your partner knows that you care for them. Likewise, that you’ll be there for them through big things and small things. This way, they’ll be more likely to reciprocate. Having your emotional needs met starts with sharing and caring for your partner. A person who feels loved and cared for is far more likely to reciprocate in kind.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Harley, Willard (2002) His Needs, Her Need. New York: REVEL FLEMING

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.