Finding a balance between “our” needs in addition to “your” needs and “my” needs is difficult, but it’s also a major part of healthy relationships. Needs (e.g., physical and emotional security, safe workplace) are basic and fundamental to people in order to thrive.

My Needs, Your Needs, Our Needs

To find the balance, you must first tune-in to understand your own needs and be open to supporting the needs of others. Effective communication skills can help you verbalize and hear what each person needs in a relationship. Communication creates a solid foundation for attending to “our” needs, together.  

Concrete ways to meet “our” needs

Almost all relationships—platonic, romantic, or otherwise—are based on some kind of interdependent needs that can be fulfilled by emotionally supportive acts and specific tasks, depending on the nature of the relationship. The chart below gives a few examples:

Relationship Tasks
Roommate Making joint decisions about sharing (e.g., food, clothing, personal information); cleaning the room; hosting friends
Classmate and work colleagues Distributing tasks on joint projects; achieving deadlines; interacting respectfully
Hook-up partner Setting boundaries and asking for and receiving consent
Long-term relationship Participating in shared decision-making; managing household tasks and finances responsibly; co-parenting

Create a strong partnership

In partnerships where everyone involved trusts and supports each other, communication can help ensure that all needs are met. Try these options to improve the strength of your partnership:

  • Work on knowing your partner(s) better. Use effective communication to better understand each other’s likes, dislikes, skills, and weaknesses.
  • Communicate with your partner(s) if they're struggling. Talk with them to understand their needs and figure out your response (e.g., express understanding, offer to reassign responsibilities, discuss the health of the relationship).
  • Pay attention to your feelings. Look to your feelings as a source of information about how your needs are being met or unmet and use effective communication to inform your partner(s) rather than making assumptions.