Do you feel like you don’t have a clue what your partner really wants? You try to make him or her happy but it seems like your efforts go unnoticed and you just can’t do anything right. It could be you just don’t understand their emotional needs in a relationship.

While every individual and relationship is different, there are a few fundamental gender differences when it comes to what women need and what men need in a relationship.

Understanding men’s needs vs women’s needs can help you and your partner better communicate, reduce and solve conflicts and improve your connection.

Women’s Emotional Needs in a Relationship

Men, this is it. This is the handbook that you’ve been waiting for all these years to understand what women want from men.

Ok, maybe not the entire handbook (like this amazing book from Dr. John Gottman) but it’s a great start to learning what makes your lady tick and also understanding your partner’s emotional needs in a relationship and how what women need and what men need may differ.

Two women laughing in a street. Women's emotional needs in relationships can vary from men.

1. What Women Need: To Be Cherished.

Your woman wants to know that she is #1 in your life. Not work, not family, not friends – her. She needs to know that she has a partner for life and that no person, place, or thing tops your love for her. Feeling cherished is one of women’s most common emotional needs in a relationship.

This may sound like it will lead to you having to turn down every invitation to hang with the boys and do your own thing but here’s the catch; once women’s emotional needs are met – once she knows she is your top priority – she will set you free to do what you want when you want.

Make a woman feel like she is the center of your universe and she will feel confident enough to let you do your thing without worrying if you are still committed and interested in the relationship.

This means that when she tells you she needs you, take her seriously. Be there when she asks you to because if she is asking now, there are probably 5 times she would have liked you to be there but didn’t ask.

If she says it is important to her, treat it as such. Yes this might mean turning down a fishing trip with your friends when she is 8 months pregnant and needs your support at home, but the payoff of having a secure wife that knows she is loved is definitely worth it.

When you meet her emotional needs in a relationship, she will encourage you to do your own thing and have your “you” time regularly, because she knows you’ll be there when she really needs you.

2. What Women Need: To Be Heard and To Be Known.

Men have a tendency to want to solve a problem when it is presented to them, but that doesn’t always align with what women want from men.

Women have a need to talk about problems even if they don’t need a solution. Men don’t want to discuss something unless it’s in an attempt to fix it whereas women want to talk about how it made them feel but don’t necessarily want to change the situation.

Men, if you hear from your woman “you’re not listening to me” but you feel like you are, there’s a good chance you’re unsure of her emotional needs in a relationship and not making her feel she is being heard. Instead of offering advice or telling her what to do, listen actively by asking questions and reflecting back what she is saying.

“Oh wow, it sounds like you had a hard day at work. I can’t believe Susan said that to you when you’ve been working so hard on this project for her.”

The above response goes over a lot better than “Susan shouldn’t be talking to you like that. You should stand up for yourself.”

While the latter statement may reflect what men want from women and might – to a man – seem supportive, to a woman it seems confrontational and is putting her in a position to take an action she may not want to take. Need help with communication?

3. What Women Need: To Feel Respected

Women often feel the need to prove themselves or compete with their man when they don’t feel like they are being respected.

To support her emotional needs in a relationship, include your woman in decisions, ask her input and treat her like an equal partner who brings value to the relationship. Beyond that, show your respect for her by opening doors, pulling out her chair, and walking on the side of the sidewalk that is closest to traffic.

These little things go a long way in showing your woman that she is both cherished and respected. Bottom line is, treat her like an equal and she won’t feel the need to prove that she is.

Men’s Emotional Needs in a Relationship

A couple spending time together on the beach - quality time is one of men's emotional needs in a relationship.

1. What Men Need: To Be Admired

When it comes to what men want from women, being admired is at the top of the list. Your man needs you to be his biggest fan. A key gender difference is that men derive their worth from what they do and women derive their worth from who they are. Recognize and praise your man’s achievements and actions every chance you get to support his emotional needs in a relationship.

Admiration is the fuel a man needs to be his best self. Try telling him how much you love the idea he came up with for his big pitch at work. Don’t assume he knows that you think he’s smart…tell him! Make sure to thank him for doing you favors or taking care of you and let him know he makes you feel safe and secure. When men are not admired, they get frustrated and stop wanting to give as much in the relationship.

One key point here is don’t fake it! Be genuine in your praise, even if it is just a small thing. What men need in a relationship is those genuine little compliments and moments of admiration that fill up his love tank and motivate him to do even more for you and the relationship.

2. What Men Need: To Have Autonomy

When faced with stress, men tend to become focused and withdrawn whereas women become increasingly overwhelmed and emotionally involved. When a man is under stress (like a deadline approaching at work or even just a bad day) he requires more space than usual – this space is one of his key emotional needs in a relationship.

A man feels better by solving problems and taking action and this usually takes the form of figuring it out by himself and emerging when he has found a solution. He may seem unresponsive and absorbed and as his woman, you may worry that he is pulling back because you did something to upset him or push him away. Typically that is not the case and he just needs some time to regroup before re-engaging.

The best thing to do to support men’s emotional needs in this scenario is to let him have his space and regroup. He’ll appreciate you for allowing him to have his experience without pressuring him to talk about it and will come back more loving and engaged than before.

3. What Men Need: To Spend Time Doing Fun Things Together

While men do need their space, doing activities with their women is key to meeting their emotional needs in a relationship. Men want women to be their recreation partner and their best friend. It is great if you two already share interests like hiking or going fishing but if you don’t, try to find something that you both enjoy and do it together.

Plan one time per week where you do an activity together to keep things fun and give you something to look forward to. It’s so easy to get caught up in the necessities of everyday living that we often don’t take time out to really connect with one another, figure out what men want from women and spend uninterrupted quality time together.

Need some inspiration about what to do?

A couple hugging and laughing after understanding each other's emotional needs in a relationship.

Understanding Each Other’s Emotional Needs in a Relationship

Still struggling to understand what women want from men and what men want from women? An online couples therapist or online marriage counselor can help! Explore our online therapy services to determine if couples therapy or individual therapy is right for you.