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The Importance of Giving and Receiving Relational Needs

Paige Smith

“And the LORD God said, “ It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭

Have you ever wondered why God, a perfect completely whole being, created humans with needs?

We need to drink water or we become dehydrated, we need food to survive, and our brains can only function without oxygen for so long.

If this level of dependency wasn’t enough many of us have surely realized we need far more than merely food, air, and water to survive, we need love, we need peace, we need compassion–we have Relational Needs.

A Relational Need is a need that is met in the context of relationship with another person.

Relationship expert and founder of The Great Commandment Network, Dr. David Ferguson has found that humans are physically, emotionally, and spiritually complex needing both practical essentials and relational nourishment!

In short, we all have relational needs!

Each person, no matter how young, old, rich, poor, educated, etc. has ten core needs which are:

1. Acceptance
2. Approval
3. Respect
4. Comfort
5. Attention
6. Security
7. Support
8. Appreciation
9. Encouragement
10. Affection

I encourage you to look over this list and even visit the previous article, “Receiving Foundational Healing” by Mrs. Lee in which she describes each relational need in depth complete with Biblical references for each need.

We all have the same ten relational needs, but each person has varying degrees to which they need each one depending on their makeup, personality, and life experiences.

I pray it brings your heart relief to know you are not uniquely deficient or “needy” because you have felt a strong desire for any relational need listed above.

Maybe all your life you have struggled with feeling as if you belong, you may have a high need for Acceptance.

If it is important for others to show they value who you are and not just what you do, you could have a strong need for Approval.

If knowing that you are highly esteemed and honored makes you feel loved, Respect could be a high relational need for you.

For me since childhood l have always needed affectionate words and touch to feel most loved. Previously others and myself might have brushed this off as being too sensitive but now I realize I simply have a strong need for Comfort and Affection.

Previously others and myself might have brushed this off as being too sensitive but now I realize I simply have a strong need for Comfort and Affection.

If it is important to you for others to listen attentively when you are speaking or show interest in your life you may have a high need for Attention.

If you value those in your life who are consistent and reliable and you appreciate planning ahead, Security may be very important to you in relationships.

If you have a high level stress job or are simply going through an unfamiliar or difficult season in life where more is expected of you than you are able to do alone, Support is likely a high relational need for you in this time.

If you are someone who particularly cherishes the kind words of loved ones or when someone demonstrates their gratitude for you, you might have a high need for Appreciation.

If a positive word from someone during a time of discouragement truly makes you feel loved, Encouragement could be one of your top relational needs.

Maybe you have read this list and realized, I have all of these needs! Don’t feel overwhelmed. We all have these needs, the only difference is some have certain particular needs more than others.

Often the very things we have been made to feel are weaknesses or are excessive about our personalities are real needs we shouldn’t apologize for having.

Needs, whether physical and relational, are completely natural to have.

Some of us have been wounded and shamed by others dismissing these needs. We’ve been told that we care too much about what people think, we think too much of ourselves, we’re too sensitive, we’re always trying to get attention, we don’t have enough faith, or we need to be more independent.

In response, we’ve learned to ignore or hide our own relational needs.

Don’t believe the lie anymore that you are too much for having a relational need.

God created you to be a relational person, and has given you needs that can only be met in the context of relationship!

You have the permission to have needs!

And it doesn’t make you weak, needy, or overly emotional, it makes you authentically human!

In December, JLO introduced the Superwoman Myth campaign which still resonates today.

Whenever you feel the pain of condemnation over your emotional makeup and are tempted to label yourself as needy remind yourself that you are not a superwoman (or man). You are not a robot devoid of emotions. You have a mind, body, and soul and we each need loving care and attention.

Acknowledging and embracing your relational needs is a beautiful step to having them filled by others.

Not only that, you will become even more compassionate to others as you realize everyone has a need for relationship. Everyone needs love.

If a particular relational need has been highlighted to you today I encourage you to write it down and share it with your closest loved ones.

Let them know how you most feel loved. Maybe it is when they ask first before using one of your belongings (showing respect) or thanking you if you made dinner (showing appreciation) or letting you know they care about you (showing affection).

This would also be a great time to ask them how they best feel loved. You may be surprised they have a high need for something that is not as needed for you.

Maybe it’s especially important to your loved ones that you keep your word (security), or that you offer to help them in tasks they have difficulty in (support), or let them know verbally how great a job you think they’re doing (encouragement).

Try not to assume what may be a need for your loved ones, ask if possible.

Many have learned to mask their needs and worse, not communicate them in fear they will be seen as weak or over dependent.

Some of the most stoic members in your family might have the deepest need for affection. And your friend who seems to be effortlessly juggling every responsibility, could be in dire need for Support. Your shy little cousin could be the same one desperate for Attention.

Seeing others through the lens of how we can give and receive relational needs will make us far more loving people.

Think of a mother and a new born infant. The bond between the two couldn’t be closer. In fact, when a child is born it already recognizes its mothers voice and midwives or nurses will often put the baby directly on the mothers chest after delivery because the very heart beat of the mother calms and soothes the child as it is plunged from the warmth of the womb into a new, unfamiliar environment.

The baby is completely dependent on its mother for nourishment and sustenance. The mother too needs the child in a sense. Scientists have found as a mother nurses after delivery, she is filled with oxycotin, a hormone that beats off those notorious “post partem blues”.

We’ve been taught to despise dependency, but the truth is where there is need there is value and where there is value there is love.

When we realize how just much we need relationships in our lives we begin to value and love people that much more.

We have all been made in God’s image and we have to remind ourselves in times of isolation that God is a relational God. Even within Himself He operates in perfect unity and relationship as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

But above all, God is the essence and definition of Love. All of these relational needs are simply different ways to give and receive love.

If you’ve read this article and realize major relational needs haven’t been met or that you have been ignoring the relational needs of those around you, please don’t be discouraged.

Allow yourself to receive God’s approval for you, acceptance of you, comfort for you, affection for you, respect for you, attention for you, support for you, encouragement for you, security (peace) for you, and appreciation for you! Receive His love today!  (We will write more articles soon on how to do this).

From that place of overflow you will find yourself able to pour into the relationships of those around you who need the manifold expressions of your love as much as you need theirs.

If this post has encouraged or inspired you on giving and receiving relational needs, feel free to share below. We love hearing from you!

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