Healthy Relationship Tips: How to Give & Receive Emotional Support


When the physical needs for survival and security are generally fulfilled, the emotional needs in a relationship take precedence. Because women are generally more conscious of their emotional needs, the woman is first to experience a lack of fulfillment; her male partner, in turn, begins to feel a lack of fulfillment in response to the woman’ dissatisfaction. In order for relationships to thrive, men and women must focus their energies on improving their abilities to give and receive emotional support.

John Gray, in his book Men, Women and Relationships, lists seven basic emotional needs or attitudes that are essential to creating a truly loving and emotionally supportive relationship. When a person feels emotionally supported, positive sentiments like fulfillment, peace, happiness, gratitude, satisfaction, excitement, and confidence are automatically generated. The seven emotional needs of men and women are as follows:

1)    Love. On a mental level, love is expressed through understanding; on an emotional level, love is expressed through empathy; on a physical level, love is expressed through touch.  Love is connecting, uniting, sharing.

2)    Caring. To care is to show deep interest or heartfelt concern for another’s well-being. Caring for a person validates that he or she is special.

3)    Understanding. Through validating our understanding of another person’s communication, we are able to see the world through their eyes.

4)    Respect. A respectful attitude acknowledges another person’s rights, wishes, and needs. Respect acknowledges and values who a person is.

5)    Appreciation. An appreciative attitude acknowledges the value of another’s efforts or behavior.

6)    Acceptance. To accept a person means you are not trying to improve them; to accept means to validate that they are enough for you – their actions and behavior are willingly received.

7)    Trust. A trusting attitude acknowledges the positive qualities of another’s character; to trust another says you believe they are able and willing to support you.

What is most interesting and important regarding primary needs is that some are more significant than others according to one’s sex. The male side of a person needs love, to be trusted, accepted, and appreciated. The female side of a person needs love, to be cared for, understood, and respected.

Because men and women don’t understand that their primary needs are different, they make a very common mistake: they give to their partner what they themselves would want. So many people in intimate relationships report that they give so much and yet their partner does not give back; both sides think they are giving, but no one is getting what they need.

Because a man tends to identify with his actions, a man is most often hurt, offended, or drained when a woman does not trust , appreciate, or accept his motives, abilities, thinking, decisions, or behavior. A woman is most vulnerable to feeling hurt when her feelings are not respected, cared for, or understood. The gift of giving love to another is expressed best by ensuring the emotional needs of our primary partner are being fulfilled. When love is not being returned to us, when our emotional needs are not being met, we begin to reject, or disown, parts of who we are.

We feel our connected to ourselves and others through love. When we are loved, we experience the truth of who we are. When we are loved, we feel that we are worthy and “enough.” When we are loved, it is easier to be our true selves. Through giving and receiving love, men and women can more fully love themselves and experience their inner goodness. In this way they feel whole and complete.

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