Most men who are working to overcome pornography addiction and out-of-control sexual behavior are unaware of the role of emotional needs.
They don’t understand that these are the baseline of all successful relationships; they’re too preoccupied with using porn, masturbation, and sex to distract from their negative emotions.
However, emotional needs are an integral part of every romantic relationship, whether you realize it or not. If you want a fulfilling relationship, you must make sure both your and your partner’s emotional needs are met. Problems arise when these needs are neglected because it leaves both parties feeling like the other isn’t interested in or appreciative of them.
You might meet someone who would be a great fit for you in a relationship, but because you’re so caught up in your out-of-control behavior, you’re not going to meet her emotional needs. You’ll miss the opportunity because you lack emotional intelligence when you’re active in your behaviors.
As you start rebooting, though, it’s time to learn about emotional needs. Understanding the roles these needs play and the way they interact is vital if you want to have a successful relationship.
Three Main Emotional Needs
There are three main emotional needs when it comes to dating: connection, status, and security. Every person values these three needs to varying degrees. It’s important to understand what each need consists of and how important each is to you and your potential partner.
Connection refers to the need to feel understood and appreciated, to share values, and to share experiences. Status refers to the need to feel important, superior, or even challenged.
Finally, security refers to the need to feel safe and secure within a trusting relationship.
A person’s willingness to become intimate with someone depends on their needs, how these needs are prioritized, and how the other individual fulfills those needs. For example, if a woman prioritizes security, you must find ways to make sure she feels the relationship is solid.
Keeping Emotional Needs Balanced
Though everyone has emotional needs, it’s also important to keep these needs in check. These needs can either be healthy or unhealthy depending on how well a person maintains a balance with them. It’s easy for needs to expand beyond a reasonable point and become something toxic. Sometimes unchecked emotional needs can cause as many problems as unmet emotional needs.
The need for connection can progress to the point of neglecting spending time with friends or having quality alone time. The need for security can evolve into extreme jealousy or possessiveness. The need for status can reach a point where the person becomes egocentric or self-absorbed.
Unchecked emotional needs are no longer about building a strong relationship. They’re superficial ways to soothe unhealed inner wounds. Left unchecked, these surface-level demands lead to depression and loneliness, not fulfillment and contentment. And when you struggle with porn addiction or compulsive sexual behavior, it’ll only drive you deeper into that.
Needs Change Over Time
Another thing to understand is the way that emotional needs change over time. Things that were important to you in your 20s don’t seem as pressing in your 40s. Priorities in your 50s were the furthest thing from your mind in your 30s.
Major life events like getting married or having kids can also alter your emotional needs. They shift your understanding of what’s important in life and create a change in the way you prioritize each need.
If you’ve been with the same person for a long time, both of your needs will shift as time goes on. It’s good to know what those changes are so you can communicate them with your partner and continue building a relationship that withstands the test of time.
If you’re single, it’s still good to know when your needs change. Recognizing the emotional needs you bring to the table helps you build more solid relationships from the beginning. But how do you know which needs have the highest priority in your life?
Recognizing Your Needs
As you learn to control your behavior with pornography, you’ll start to recognize your emotional needs. Acknowledging the needs that motivate you is an important part of your reboot. But you won’t develop sudden clarity on the things that are important to you; it takes some work to decipher how you prioritize your emotional needs.
I’ve got a quick assignment for you today. I want you to write out how you prioritize your emotional needs in life right now. If you’re in a relationship, look at that relationship and figure out which needs are important in it. If you’re single and looking for a relationship, find out which needs are important for your potential partner to meet. If you’re single and not looking for a relationship, analyze your past relationships and look for patterns in your needs.
Once you’re finished writing, I want you to share your findings with the Porn Addiction Counseling – Reboot Facebook group. There are hundreds of guys, some in the Porn Reboot intensive and some who stick with the free group, who share their findings from the assignments. I think it’s an important way to connect with other men and to follow through on actions in your reboot.
If you aren’t part of the free Facebook group yet, you can join us here. It’s a private group so none of your friends or family will know you joined. It’s a great way to stay accountable, to find support, and to get you through any lulls you may experience. Come join us today and let us know where you’re at in the ways you prioritize emotional needs in your relationships!