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Although most of us desire a healthy relationship it’s surprising how many of us don’t really understand what makes love survive long term. Most of us are bombarded with images of love and sex in magazines, TV adverts, and on the radio but often they idealise, romanticise or trivialise love. So it’s hard to work out what the keys to lasting passion and love are.

So much is written about it yet it is an emotion that gets the least attention within families and schools. We’re not taught about it – we just seem to either catch it, pick it up as we go along, or copy our own mum and dad’s relationship!

Yet there is perhaps no greater source of happiness, joy and fulfilment or heartache, despair or pain than love.

Keeping the glow with your partner is not easy and no matter where you are in your relationship it’s important to regularly check in on it from time to time to keep it fresh, keep it growing and keep it watered and nurtured.

With just a slight shift in your perceptions and beliefs about marriage and partnerships you can re-kindle the flame of love, re-ignite intimacy and fan the flames of passion if you are open and willing to give it a go.

Interestingly, we say we love the people in our lives, yet we often don’t act very lovingly with our words, our tone of voice or our body language or our attitude towards the very people who are the most important to us, and it’s ironic that no amount of money, success, status or fame will ever come close to the warm glow of a loving and nurturing relationship.

“Women are afraid to ask for what they want because they are afraid at a deep subconscious level that they will get replaced by someone less demanding and more compliant and men don’t even acknowledge that they want or need anything because if they do, it implies that they are not a real man. So we have two people sitting around wanting all these things from each other, probably capable of giving each other many of them, but not talking about it. Then they both feel depressed, both feel resentful, both feel deprived, they cheat on each other and you have a divorce. It could be prevented by straight talking and clear asking.”

Barbara De Angelis Best-selling author and renowned relationship expert

The Driving Force of All Human Needs All of us are driven by the same basic human needs in some form or other and working out what your own needs are first is a great place to start if you want a truly fulfilling and meaningful relationship.

There are six levels of basic needs in life, and each level supports the next one like the layers in a pyramid. If one need is not being met, it is very difficult to have a truly fulfilling relationship.

There are four primary needs (certainty, variety, significance and love) and two spiritual needs (growth and contribution) but the key element in a happy and successful relationship is in getting our needs met in the way we value them the most.

The problem, or the challenge in a relationship, is that we all differ in the order of priority we put these needs in and in how we value each of them in our lives.

So if you value security and certainty first in your list of needs you can see how you’d find it challenging to be in a relationship with a person who loves uncertainty or lots of variety in their life.

The secret is to understand where you truly are, where you feel most comfortable and then to think about how that influences your life and relationship so you can learn how to expand the choices that are available to you.

If you don’t fulfil your needs then you feel off kilter, out of balance and unhappy.

When you know what you genuinely need you can work out how to go about getting your needs met yourself and by also talking them through with your partner so you can fulfil their needs as well.

The secret is know what your needs are and in what order of importance and then to take a little time to explain what they are to your partner – and watch your relationship flourish.

Grab a pen and paper to jot down your thoughts as you ponder over the next week or so

Need One: The Need for Certainty People who need certainty like consistency, control, safety, security and routines and to avoid uncertainty they often resort to controlling behaviour to try and feel safe and in control of most situations.

• Think about all the ways you currently get certainty in your life at the moment.

• Are these needs being fully met?

• How could you get them met?

Need Two: The Need for Variety/Uncertainty People who need uncertainty like surprises, diversity, difference, excitement, and challenges and find too many routines dull, lifeless and boring. They may even “pick a fight” to get some reaction that’s unpredictable and stimulating as they love taking on new challenges.

• Think about all the ways you currently get uncertainty/variety in your life at the moment.

• Are these needs being fully met?

• How could you get them met?

Need Three: The Need for Significance

People who need significance have a sense of being needed and of feeling important and unique and noticed. They need to have a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.

This can lead to them accumulating material possessions, academic success or even a keenness to keep developing their skills and knowledge. They like to have their accomplishments noticed and recognised and may get their need for significance through their children. It’s not about showing off but it is about feeling recognised for their value and accomplishments.

• Think about all the ways you currently get significance in your life.

• Are these needs being fully met?

• How could you get them met?

Need Four: The Need for Connection and Love People who need to feel love and connection enjoy sharing and intimacy, and a sense of feeling part of…. They enjoy bonding spiritually as well as physically and like to feel at one with another person. They enjoy the sense of meaning love and connection can give them. If this need isn’t met the can often take refuge in negative destructive behaviour like drinking too much, smoking or getting into gangs if they are young, or find themselves self sacrificing their own needs to get a sense of connection with another.

• Think about all the ways you currently get connection and love in your life at the moment.

• Are these needs being fully met?

• How could you get them met?

Need Five: The Need for Growth People who need growth enjoy expanding their knowledge, comfort zones and friendships. They enjoy self development and learning about themselves and what they are capable of and they enjoy their relationship moving forward, expanding and growing not stagnating and staying still.

Relationships can either see one partner growing, changing and going off in a different direction or see one partner growing, changing and growing at a different speed. The secret is to recognise what’s happening and to talk about it and to work out ways you can grow, change and keep together.

• Think about all the ways you currently get the need for growth in your life at the moment.

• Are these needs being fully met?

• How could you get them met?

Need Six: The Need for Contribution People who need contribution in their lives feel the need to give back and to share their expertise, knowledge, time or money to help their community, their business, their family, their school, or a charity or the world as a whole. They have a need to feel unity with others and to make a difference in the world in some small or large way.

• Think about all the ways you currently get the need to contribute in your life at the moment.

• Are these needs being fully met?

• How could you get them met?

Getting more of what you need • At the moment which of the Six Needs are you really looking for?

• Which ones are the most important in your life?

• How can you begin to identify better, maybe even healthier, ways to get them met?

If you’re ever going to be happy in your relationship, it’s important to ensure that your emotional needs are being fully met. Your partner doesn’t need to meet 100% of your needs but they will almost certainly need to support all of the important ones for you to be truly happy in your relationship.

Getting your needs met is essential if you ever intend to find your love for Life but don’t expect your partner to be able or willing to fulfil every one of your needs. No one person can do that.

Different friends, family, and work colleagues and having different hobbies and interests with different people can all contribute to fulfilling your needs. So open up to all the possibilities that life can offer you and don’t place too many demands on any one person.

Take responsibility for fulfilling your own needs. Everything you want and need is waiting for you so just start recognising what you need, ask for it to be met and embrace life and love with both arms wide open.

February is Pass It Forward Month! So if you have found this article helpful and thought provoking please pass it forward to your friends, colleagues, schools and nurseries……. because as they say….“Alone we can do so little together we can do so much”