Needs vs Wants In Relationships – What Is Really Important for Long-Term Love?

needs vs wants in relationships
Lana Otoya

As a dating coach, I have people tell me exactly what they want in a significant other. It is up to me to tell them that needs vs wants in a relationship are very different. Many people think they “need” something in a relationship, but it will have little to no impact on lasting love.

Here is the difference between what you want in a relationship and what you need.

needs vs wants in relationships

Most Common Relationship Wants:

10. Dietary Restrictions

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard clients tell me that they “can’t” date a vegan/vegetarian or that they must date one.

I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but… it’s hard out there in the dating world! All the swiping, bad dates and boring conversations.

Why would you want to make things even harder by putting on a restriction as silly as this one?

Food is such an important part of our lives. We associate food or going out to eat as social, bonding and even romantic activities. Here’s the thing though – you can easily enjoy a conversation and a plate of food with your partner even if they are not eating the same thing as you.

As long as your partner is willing to respect your diet, you should not sacrifice an amazing relationship with someone just because they order to the beyond burger and you order the regular one.

9. Hot Passionate Sex

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but –

Long-term commitment is pretty much the opposite of passionate sex.

Think about any erotica or porn video you’ve ever seen. Does it ever start out with a happily boring couple that’s been together for years?

Not often, possibly never.

I’ve seen my long-term boyfriend sprawled over the bathroom toilet with serious food poisoning. He has seen me ugly cry over a cancelled dinner plan.

Long-term love is just not about hot passionate sex., I’m sorry if this disappoints you.

The reason for this is deeply rooted in science. We, humans, get used to everything. Once we’ve experienced something a few times, it rarely gives us the same thrill it once did, and that slowly declines over time.

Psychology today helps us pinpoint this:

Hedonic adaptation is most likely when positive experiences are involved. It’s cruel but true: We’re inclined—psychologically and physiologically—to take positive experiences for granted.

We move into a beautiful loft. Marry a wonderful partner. Earn our way to the top of our profession. How thrilling! For a time.

Then, as if propelled by automatic forces, our expectations change, multiply, or expand and, as they do, we begin to take the new, improved circumstances for granted….Sexual passion and arousal are particularly prone to hedonic adaptation.

Instead of hot passionate sex, long-term commitment paves the way for a different kind of sex. It’s a little more boring, a little more routine, but a lot more loving – and that’s ok.

Learn More: I’m Not Attracted To My Partner – Now What?

8. Good Grammar On Dating Profiles

I’ve seen this one come up a lot. For some weird reason, people seem to think that writing skills equal intelligence level or ability to carry on a stimulating conversation.

Can I be the one to tell you this is just not accurate?

Language skills, just like analytical skills such as math, are just one way to measure intelligence.

Can you imagine someone asking someone to solve a math problem at the end of their dating profile so that they can test their intelligence? That would be crazy, but you being the grammar police on dating profiles is equally crazy.

I’ll never forget a person I knew in University who was incredibly smart. He was educated, extremely outgoing, friendly, funny and very knowledgable on nearly any topic. This guy loved to read and loved to learn – but guess what?

He was dyslexic and really sucked at spelling and grammar.

It was just a weakness of his.

Now if you really need your significant other to win a spelling bee, maybe this one is alright. But if you’re looking for an intelligent, fun and loving partner, meet someone in person before using a couple of spelling mistakes to turn you off.

7. Lineup Of Specific Photos

This one is similar to the last one. I have had people give me a list of things like “don’t want to go out with a man holding a fish.” “Don’t want to go out with a man posing with other women.”

I know the fish thing is super old and we’re all tired of it, but some men just didn’t get the memo. This doesn’t mean that he’s a bad guy! I know photos are very important on dating apps, but you don’t have to start excluding people before you’ve even given them a chance.

Imagine a man that checks off all your boxes and is absolutely gorgeous. He’s perfect and you swipe to see his next photo and there he is holding a fish, or posing with his sister. Are you really going to pass this up?

6. A Partner For Everything

As a dating coach for female clients, I hear this one a lot. Women love to talk and do things together with a friend, or partner. So often, they want the man in their life to fill all the roles. They want him to be a therapist, a chef, a housekeeper, a shopping partner, a travel buddy etc.

Your partner doesn’t need to be with you 24/7 and doing everything you do. If he’s happy to stay home while you take a vacation with your girlfriends, it’s not going to ruin your relationship.

If you’re having trouble see why this is not a relationship need vs want, be sure to check out the “needs” list below to get a better idea of what you should be looking for.

5. Certain Income Level

This one is within reason. Just like physical attractiveness, we’re all playing in our own league. People who are used to a certain lifestyle often want to continue this lifestyle, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The only thing I have to say about this is to keep an open mind. I would never suggest that you settle with a less than high-quality man. who can’t support himself. But men can contribute to the household in more ways than money.

What if you love your job and work long hours and he is great with kids and an excellent cook? There’s nothing wrong with him working less hours, but then picking up the slack at home.

Remember that relationships are give and take and if he’s a high-quality man, he can show that in more ways than one.

4. Level of Education

I get the idea behind this one and I agree with it. You want to be with someone who is on the same level of intelligence and culture as you. This makes perfect sense, and you should be doing this.

The problem with this is that it cannot be judged by a piece of paper given to you by an institution.

In today’s day and age, everyone has all the knowledge of human history in their pocket. People who are cultured and always working to improve themselves have the ability to continue learning and educating themselves

Learn More: 5 Dating Standards That Actually Matter

3. Common Interests

This one seems odd, I know, but you’d be surprised at how little a role common interests A study by researchers Bill Chopik and Richard Lucas revealed that:

“Even among couples who share similar personalities…having a partner who is conscientious and nice [lead to] to higher levels of relationship satisfaction.”

This makes your dating search a lot more focused, you simply have to find someone with good character and a good heart. 

Learn More: How To Find A Husband Who Really Loves You

2. Similar Political Views

This one made this list, as well as the relationship needs list because it really can go either way. A lot of people are generally leaning towards one side of the political spectrum but if you’re not super passionate about politics, you’ll probably be ok to date someone who leans to the other side. A lot of political issues have two sides and if you’re ok to “agree to disagree” you will seriously open up your pool of options for an amazing relationship.

1. Height

I won’t hammer this one home because you know it’s kind of shallow to classify this one as a need – yet you’re doing it anyway. As a dating coach, it’s pretty much my job to ask you to lower this by an inch. If you want 6’0, try 5’11. If you’re ok with 5’8, try 5’7. You’d be surprised at how many more options you get, and also how little height matters when you fall in love.

List of Relationship Needs:

10. Repairing Skills

Every couple is going to fight. It’s not the end of the world if this happens.

What makes a couple healthy vs. not healthy though, is how well they can recover after the fight is over or if one partner is building up resentment. Recovering after a fight is also known as “repairing skills’ and it is absolutely relationship need.

Marriage researcher, John Gottman helps clarify:

“The thing that all really good marriages and love relationships have in common is that they communicate to their partner a model that when you’re upset, I listen,” he says. “The world stops, and I listen. And we repair things. We don’t let things go. We don’t leave one another in pain. We talk about it, and we repair.”

That’s where gentleness comes in.

In really good relationships, people are very gentle with the way they come on about a conflict….They don’t bare their fangs and leap in there; they’re very considered.”

9. The “Happiness Ratio”

Another “relationship need” that we get from John Gottman is the “happiness ratio.”

Every relationship has mini interactions that occur throughout the day. Some of these interactions are positive, like “oh babe, you look really good in that suit”. Other interactions are negative, like “ugh, why did you leave all the dishes on the counter again?”

John Gottman discovered in his research that in order to have a happy relationship, these interactions much be 5 positive to everyone 1 negative or a “happiness ratio” of 5:1.

A couple that doesn’t have this ratio will not stand the test of time.

On the other hand, unhappy couples tend to engage in fewer positive interactions to compensate for their escalating negativity. If the positive-to-negative ratio during conflict is 1-to-1 or less, that’s unhealthy, and indicates a couple teetering on the edge of divorce. – John Gottman

8. Similar Daily Lifestyles

This is one of the most important relationship needs because it impacts your everyday life.

When people are dating, they often look for commonalities that happen once in a while. Things like:

  • He likes going on the same vacations as me
  • He’s a skier
  • He enjoys live music

Sure, it’s nice to spend those moments together, but a much more important list is something like:

  • He’s ok with doing the dishes every night if I cook
  • We’re both fine with sitting on the couch all weekend. Or, both of us want to go out on the weekends, we can’t stand being at home all day.
  • He’s ok with me going out with friends every night of the week.

Being on the same page about those little things will ensure that you can stand each other, day after day. That’s what long-term love is really like!

7. Same Long-Term Goals

The two of you need to be heading in the same direction. The two of you being on the same page is a relationship need. If you’re not on the same page here, it definitely won’t work out.

Things to think about in this category:

  • Wanting to get married or not
  • Having children in the future – how many?
  • Type of home you want to live in (suburban, white picket fence or urban high-rise apartment?)
  • Financial arrangements. Do both of you have an agreement on how to support your lifestyle?

Learn more: Signs He Wants A Relationship and Not A Fling

6. Total Commitment To The Relationship

Earlier in this article, I quoted a study that says all you really need in a partner is someone that is nice. Pair that with someone that is committed to the relationship and you are golden.

A couple that stays together, through thick and thin, is very committed to the relationship, outside of themselves. You have what is best for you, for him and for the relationship. The more you can both choose “the relationship” more likely you will continue to grow together.

The way you can make this happen is by being relationship need number 5, below…

5. Easy Going Personality

If he is going to commit himself to the relationship, he is going to need to compromise sometimes- and you will too.

Being easy-going helps a couple not to “sweat the small stuff.”

Remember the 5:1 ratio? If you make a big deal about your partner eating dinner on the couch, you’ve just “wasted” your negative interaction. Now you have to do 5 positive things in order to get the ratio back in order.

When you’re easy-going, you can let the small stuff slide and save your “1 negative interaction” for something a lot more important. If both partners are doing this all the time, you’ll hit your 5:1 happiness ratio very easily and be very happy together.

Learn More: What Makes A Good Husband? 10 Traits of A High Quality Man

4. Similar Political Views

This is on the relationship needs list as well because it depends on how important this is to you. If you find yourself being a middle of the road kind of person, you will likely be ok with other political viewpoints. Yet, if you are very liberal and left-leaning, being with someone in the middle might be too much of a strain in your outlook.

This is only as big of a deal as you make it, and personally (maybe because I’m not that into politics myself) I think you should keep this in the “relationship wants” category.

3. Freedom To Be Yourself

The freedom to be yourself is an essential relationship need. Researcher Brene Brown has discovered that the key to human connections is being vulnerable. We must “reveal our true selves” and have that true self be accepted before we can establish a real connection.

If you find yourself acting differently around your partner than you normally would, you have to ask yourself if he’s really falling in love with the real you. This is a relationship need that cannot be skipped.

If you want to learn more about Brene Brown’s research and how to be vulnerable in relationships, check out this post.

2. Laughter

This is just a reminder that relationships are supposed to be fun!

As a dating coach, I often talk to women who have been hurt or are so focused on buying a house and popping out some kids that they forget that your partner is supposed to your best friend. The two of you should enjoy spending time together and love having fun.

1. Safety

In addition to all the other relationship needs, this is the most important one. Not only does this mean being safe physically, it also means sexually and emotionally.

Your partner is going to be with you in your most intimate moments. He will see you when you’re sick with food poisoning in the bathroom, when you’ve just had a baby and you look like death, and he’ll see you cry, grieve, be depressed or suffer a panic attack. Your partner is your rock and you need to be able to trust that he will support you no matter what.

This means that he cannot be:

  • Judgemental
  • Overly-Critical
  • Rude or aggressive
  • Arrogant
  • Narcissistic
  • Easily angered

He needs to be a loving and supportive partner. If you have this relationship need, you will be on the right track for long-term love.

How To Attract A Man That Is High Quality

I hope you found this article helpful but it does you know good if you’re not attracting High-Quality Men.

Find out what High-Quality men look for in a woman, check out my Free Guide “How To Attract Higher-Quality Men”. It’s free!

Conclusion

Thanks for checking out my post on needs vs wants in relationships. If you need more information, feel free to learn more:

Related:

Dating Coaching For Women – Coaching and Profile Writing

Signs He Wants A Relationship and Not A Fling

How To Find A Husband That Really Loves You

What Makes A Good Husband? 10 Traits of A High-Quality Man

I’m Not Attracted To My Partner, Now What?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *