When it comes to relationships, we hear a lot about physical needs and how a lack of fulfillment can lead to infidelity. But fulfilling your partner’s physical needs aren’t the only thing you need to be mindful of. In fact, satisfying your partner’s emotional needs are just, if not more, important.
Emotions are what give your relationship depth. That’s because intimacy and emotional connection create that special bond that’s shared between you and your partner. This type of bond can be achieved through talking, sharing, and just allowing yourselves to open up and be vulnerable with each other.
As Tina B. Tessina, PhD (“Dr. Romance”), psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working It Out Together tells Bustle, couples who engage with each other, show care and compassion when they speak, support each other and can empathize with each other are likely to have their emotional needs met.
“When you know how to fulfill your own emotional needs, you can recognize when your partner is doing that, too,” Dr. Tessina says. “However, if you don’t do those things for yourself, you’re likely to brush it off and miss the care your partner is sending your way.”
So how do you know if you’re fulfilling your partner’s emotional needs? If they don’t talk to you about the following things, experts say, they may be getting their needs satisfied elsewhere.
1. Their Goals And Dreams For The Future
Talking about something so personal like your goals and dreams for the future can allow for an emotional connection to be made. So if your partner stops talking to you about things that matter to them like their career goals or future plans, spiritual counselor and relationship expert, Davida Rappaport, tells Bustle this is a sign that your partner may be getting their needs met elsewhere. It’s especially troubling if they used to talk to this about you and have stopped sharing altogether. “You should ask your partner why they no longer discuss these things with you, what you can do to support them and reopen those lines of communication.”
2. Silly Random Things
One of the best ways to connect with your partner emotionally is to laugh with them. Your relationship should make you feel light, happy, and positive from time to time. “If the majority of your conversations with your partner are ‘operational’ in nature, it’s a fairly good indication either you and they (or both) are getting their emotional needs met elsewhere,” Poppy and Geoff Spencer, professional counselors and relationship experts, tell Bustle. If you only talk about things that are on the calendar or the same routine things every day, your partner’s emotional needs are likely being neglected, and they may be emotionally cheating as a result.
3. Their Feelings About Small Day-To-Day Things
If your partner doesn’t talk to you about how they feel about things that happen on a daily basis, they may be sharing their feelings and opinions with someone else. According to Dr. Tessina, some people unknowingly shut their partners down when they’re looking for support. This can then cause them to look for that support elsewhere. “When your partner wants to talk about something, take a break from what you’re doing, and give your partner your full attention,” she says. “Be sympathetic, supportive, and care about [their] feelings.”
4. Their Friends (Both Online And IRL)
This is a tricky one since your partner should be allowed to get some of their emotional needs met by their friends especially if they’ve been friends with someone for a really long time. If you don’t really know their friends well, your partner may not feel like they need to talk to you about them. But, if your partner spends a bunch of time texting their friends or going on social media instead of talking to you, that can be a sign that they’re getting their emotional needs met elsewhere. “In healthy, committed relationships, we suggest to our clients that they have a very transparent virtual arena in which those social media connections are open to both parties,” the Spencers say. Being open with your feelings about how much they’re talking to their friends instead of you can help you two work out a compromise.
5. Their Beliefs
As time goes on, people and their beliefs on a number of things can change. If your partner no longer talks to you about their beliefs and they used to, Rappaport says they may be getting their emotional needs met elsewhere. Sometimes they’ll stop talking to you about something like this because it may make things uncomfortable, especially if you have opposing beliefs. But if this is happening, Rappaport says you should try to engage your partner in a discussion so you can both come to some sort understanding and acceptance of the change. “While you and your partner may no longer have the same beliefs, find a way to be flexible and support them,” she says.
6. Their Stress Or Any Troubles They May Be Having
“If you feel your partner is withholding information from you, it’s hard to know if that’s because they’re receiving support from a different relationship or if they just don’t want to talk about it,” Licensed Professional Counselor, Julie Williamson, tells Bustle. Sometimes, people don’t like sharing their troubles with other people, but they could also be sharing their troubles with someone other than you. Having a conversation about this can help clear things up. “Ultimately, it’s your partner’s choice how much and when to disclose certain information to you,” Williamson says.
7. Their Love And Appreciation For You
“If your partner no longer expresses their feelings to you to the extent they have in the past, they may be seeking a different outlet,” Rappaport says. When you realize this is happening, it’s easy to assume cheating. But there’s no need to worry just yet. According to Rappaport, you may just need to reach out to your partner. Maybe they think you’re the one being distant, and that’s why they’re behaving in this way. “You may not be meeting their needs, even if they are meeting yours,” she says. “You must remember that a healthy relationship is built upon respect, mutual love and support including emotional and mental support.”
Truth be told, you can’t really expect to fulfill every single one of your partner’s emotional needs and vice versa. “No one person (no matter how healthy the relationship) will be able to completely fulfill your emotional needs,” Williamson says. “It’s definitely unrealistic and thinking this can set you up for relationship failure.” It’s just too much responsibility for one person and can create an unhealthy dynamic if you try. But if you’re worried that your partner is getting their needs met elsewhere, talk to them. Having that conversation can give you clarity and may even ease your mind.
This post was originally posted on Bustle.com.