How Do I Communicate My Needs In A Relationship?!

May 08, 2024

In this episode of the Advanced Relationship Podcast, Bryce Bauer and Jenny Morrow talk about how to communicate your needs in a relationship and share the things that need to be shared. 

You can watch this episode via video on YouTube here: CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO PODCAST ON YOUTUBE EPISODE 102 (Be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode). 

You can also listen on any of the major podcast players (search "Advanced Relationship Podcast Jenny Morrow").

If you prefer reading, you can read the transcript here: 

Welcome to the Advanced Relationship Podcast. This is your host, Jenny Morrow, and your other host, Bryce Bauer. Cool.

We're really excited to be here today, and we're going to be answering a relationship question. And we're going to talk about how to look at this question through the lens of advanced relationships. We can even kind of look at the difference between looking at it through the lens of advanced relationship and through the lens of what I call more traditional relationship.

All right, so before we dive into the question, quick announcement, we have our Advanced Relationship Coaching Studio up and live. So one thing that's really cool is if you jump in there, there are a lot of great courses, a lot of material, and Bryce and I also host two group coaching calls a month. Now, one thing that's really cool is right now, we have a special going where you can get one month for free in the studio.

So you can come check it out completely risk-free. So if you sign up, you get an entire 31 days to come check it out. And then if you want to keep going, you just don't cancel the membership.

And if you don't want to keep going, you cancel the membership. So if you're interested in that, I will link it in the show notes. And I'll also just say it here.

So it's forward slash studio membership. That's how you find out about studio. Anything else in terms of announcements, Bryce?

Well, I was just thinking I recently started a TikTok channel called The Pro Husband. And yeah, I wanted to tell people about that. I'm putting a lot of effort into it right now, trying to draw the balance between being funny and also being informative.

So if you want to check that out, it's The Pro Husband, that's me.

Awesome. Cool. I love that, Bryce.

So today we're going to be answering a question. You ready to dive in?


How do I express my needs and expectations without causing tension in the relationship? I am afraid to voice my needs because it often leads to an argument. How can I communicate my expectations more effectively?

So I kind of was thinking it might be fun to compare what it would look like to approach this from a more traditional perspective and then a more advanced perspective. Does that sound interesting to you? Tell me.

Okay. Well, how would you say you see people approach things like this from a more traditional perspective? Like they try to communicate their needs, they try to communicate their expectations, they don't feel like it's working, how do people tend to try to fix that or figure it out from your perspective?

Well, I'm thinking about traditional relationships and in most cases, the first goal is to not create tension. So tension is looked at as bad. So if I do X, Y or Z and it brings up tension, that's not a good thing, that's going to lead to a fight.

We don't have the skills to work through that, so I'm just not going to bring it up. And then what happens is, I think, energy builds, and eventually people are like, I'm tired of doing this, and now I really want to speak up, and then they come at it with a lot more fire, a lot more energy, and it's still fairly unskilled, and then their partner can feel controlled, they can feel defensive. So I see people swinging in either direction.

Traditional is either like, we're super passive, or maybe we're really aggressive, but neither one is very effective.

Yeah, I like that, and I like how you acknowledge it can swing between the two. Like, okay, I try this, it doesn't really work, so I'm just gonna stuff it down, then the resentment and pressure builds, and it comes out with all that energy, still unskilled, not good processes. And then it just kind of reinforces the story that it's not safe to speak up.

Sure, yeah. And the pendulum can swing in either direction, because we've worked with some couples where they've spent years really badgering their partner to change or see them or listen to them. And then all of a sudden, one day, something shifts and they're like, I'm done.

I'm not speaking up anymore. It's useless, it's pointless. It doesn't get me anywhere.

So it can go either way.

It can go either way. That's a really good point. Cool, I actually really liked laying that out in that way.

That was helpful even for me to kind of see and remember. Oh yeah, what it looks like when it's not done with a more advanced relationship approach, a more advanced relationship mindset and skills and tools. Okay, so if we were to talk about how can someone do this differently from a more advanced relationship approach.

And I'm thinking first about the idea of even mindset here. Like what are the relationship mindsets that are going to serve you if you want to express your needs and expectations in a relationship and feel like they can be heard and feel like you both have space to share your needs and expectations and find creative solutions to help get both your needs met. So one of the mindsets I think is really important is beginning to build a more advanced relationship with yourself where you have a way of looking at your needs and expectations and assessing them from a logical perspective as well as an emotional perspective.

So what I mean there is sometimes we have needs or expectations that don't really align. And I'm gonna put that in quote. We have quote needs or expectations.

We have emotional feelings about something, but we don't yet know even how to meet that need for ourself, let alone what we're actually asking for in the relationship. So I think it's really important to sometimes get support and do the work on how do I get super clear on what my need and expectation actually is here.

Yeah, I'm thinking about the idea of staying grounded in your request, right? Like if I can't really meet this need for myself, and I'm coming to you with this desperation, your partner can feel that. And if you feel like that's the only way that this need can get met is through your partner, and if they don't, you just collapse, you're not gonna end up feeling very good, because people really can't meet that need 100% because it always has to be met in some way from within yourself.

It doesn't matter how much someone loves you. If you don't love yourself, you're never gonna reach peace and equanimity there.

Yeah, I like that, because I'm imagining this idea that our relationships magnify us. So if we are able to hear ourself, make space for ourself, have compassion for ourself, then when someone is able to also do that for us, it magnifies that, it enhances it. But it doesn't fill the void if we can't do it for ourself.

Right, yeah, we can only really receive to the amount that we're able to do this for ourselves.

Mm-hmm, yeah, yeah. And I'm kind of also curious as we're talking about it, because I'm thinking about situations where at least it appears that someone can't do something like, let's say I want to massage, for example, and there's spots on my body that I literally cannot massage for myself, right? So there might be areas of life where there might be things that people can do for you that you really can't do for yourself, like that's a real reality.

And when we're talking about like emotional needs, I don't know, I'm kind of curious actually, how would you kind of think about that idea? Because I feel similar to you. I know when I have an emotional need, if I'm projecting that need onto you, as the only way I can get that emotional need met, then I feel kind of itch and desperate, and you might feel a weight or a pressure from that energy of desperation that might not feel good for you.

And so I'm like, how do we navigate the reality that there might be some spots in our life where someone can do something for us that we literally can't do for ourself? Does that make sense?

Yeah, and I think there's, you know, we're gonna run into paradoxes at some point here, where it's like, you know, I think it's very possible that someone could, you know, I'm thinking about some of the people that spend years and years in caves meditating, and they're, I mean, essentially finding some sort of peace there, at least from what I've heard. And so they're doing all of that for themselves. They're somehow able to meet all their emotional needs and find peace in that.

But the reality is that we're also social creatures, and most of us just don't wanna do that. That's not what we wanna do. We are around people, so we have to take that reality into account, that we do depend on others for our needs.

So I think there can be a paradox there where you can meet these needs for yourself while also needing things from other people. And that's, I think, part of Advanced Relating is we can hold some of these paradoxes, right? Sometimes people come into us and ask, or they're asking these questions like, is it this or it's that, or is it that?

And it's like, well, it really can be both in a lot of ways.

Yeah, and I'm imagining how sometimes when we work with couples, Bryce and I do all of our couples work together, so the two of us with the couple, and then sometimes we will also do individual sessions with either person. So I'm imagining how sometimes we might be in a couple session, and it just feels like both people are projecting so much, they're not able to really get grounded, and sometimes we will separate a session, and Bryce will just meet with one person, I'll just meet with one person. And I'm thinking about how sometimes in those sessions, just being heard by me starts to settle someone down, right?

Like I'm able to give them something that our partner is not able to give them yet. And sometimes I wonder too, if we project onto our partner a need that they can't yet give us. Right?

And so sometimes we might need to find another place to help support us in that way. And then we can also learn how to do that for ourselves. And then I wonder if then when we re-approach the relationship, we are able to do that from a more, like you're saying, grounded, spilled place where we already feel more confidence in ourselves.

Sure, yeah. I think there's also a spectrum of which someone can give something, right? Like we will work with couples where the partner will really be trying to listen.

And then the other person feels like, you're kind of getting me 50%, and then they just give up on the whole project. And like, well, if it's not 100, then like, I'm done, you can't do it. And it's like, we have to be able to give our partners credit for where they are trying.

And if it only gets us to 50%, maybe we need to find somewhere else to get the other 50. Maybe they're in the process of learning and it can grow over time. But I think giving up on the whole project because they can't fully do it when they're trying, I think is a losing strategy.

Like I have this agreement I like to introduce to couples that you get to make mistakes as long as you're trying. Like see your partner's effort and what they're trying to do and give them credit there. And if they can't meet you 100%, like that's actually pretty normal.

But to also be really honest about how much you are able to get from them. And Jenny and I will use this sometimes. You know, I'm actually more of the numbers person, but you've been the one that has used percentages more when we're having a conflict and we're really trying to get to zero or we're trying to get to 100% resolution, at least it felt sense.

And Jenny will sometimes say, yeah, I'm at 50 or I'm at 80. Instead of me being like, oh, well, screw it. Like you, you know, that's all on you.

You need to do the other 20 or 50. I can take a breath and be like, okay, we're on the right track. 50 is good, 80 is good.

And I'm going to stay with this. And I think that is a great environment to learn and grow in. This is when we can just be honest about what's actually happening and where we're at and to keep trying.

I really like that, as you say, and I feel like a settling in my body because it's been so nice to give myself that permission because it was really scary for me when we were first together and first learning how to work through hard things. It was really scary for me to say that I wasn't at 100% sometimes. Because I could tell Bryce had been working so hard to do his side of the equation and understand me and get it.

And if I felt like he just wasn't quite there yet, it was like very scary to say that because I didn't want him to feel discouraged and just withdraw.

Yeah, which I did sometimes, you know, my own learning curve there.

Yeah, which he did sometimes. And I think what was cool is we always came back and stayed with it.

Right, right.

And I think that's served us so much. And I would say over time, it probably feels a little less scary for me to say, I'm not at 100 now, and it seems like it feels a little less threatening.

Yeah, me as well. Yeah, and I have a lot of confidence that that gap will be closed within 24 to 48 hours. I mean, we probably have a general rule that if it's not resolved in 48 hours, we're going to get some type of support because it's just a, it's a difficult environment to live in when you're not feeling, when we're used to that so much and we don't when there is real disconnection in the relationship, and we have clients we need to meet with.

We're kind of on the clock more than some other couples might be in a lot of ways. But anyways, that's our method.


It's, we have like sometimes things last 24 hours and we have to work through them. And if it's going into like the second day, then it's like, okay, what are the resources do we have to bring in to make this work? And it also matters what we're doing in that time too.

Like if we're in a difficult conflict, I know I have to meditate. I know I have to sit with myself and reflect on what's happening in me. Like what can I own here?

What is it that I'm needing here? And often that'll provide more information to bring into the conversation. And I know you really appreciate that.

Like just knowing that I'm self-reflecting, I'm bringing some of that in. Like, okay, I think I can see what you might be seeing here. And we have our own patterns that we can refer back to them.

Like I think it might be kind of this pattern here, this pattern of like you feeling like I'm not thinking about, you're not on your team. Is that right? So we have, yeah, I think we have some pretty well-worn pathways to go back to.

That seems really true to me. And I love how you talked about the idea of if one of us is trying to express our needs or expectations and we're not able to get through it and it's creating tension and that lasts more than 24 to 48 hours or a fight ensues, a disagreement that's causing a lot of pain. Yeah, it is very common for us to really tap into our resources, both what we can just do on our own, as well as our coaching resources, having our own mentors, things like that, so that we don't have to carry that energy of harming ourselves or each other psychologically in any way.

Right, right.

It kind of like keeps things clean.

Yeah, and I think it's also important, like we've done a lot of study around what emotional abuse looks like. And so that we can spot that. And I think in general, we're very respectful of each other.

Like we might bring in projections, but we're not name calling. Yeah, where I think we do a pretty good job to not manipulate or just notice where that might be coming in to make either one of us like fully wrong in a situation. So again, this is an educational piece that was really important.

It was like, I need to know if there are ways that I might be communicating to Jenny that I might think are totally fine over here, but they have a really harmful impact on her.

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So I think that really covers actually a lot of this question, because I would say, it comes back to what you were talking about, Bryce, the idea that tension's not bad.

Tension is an indicator that there's energy there, and energy can be a really positive thing when you learn how to channel it towards growth. And so that's not a problem to have tension. If you don't know how to navigate it, then probably you're wanting to get some resources.

So that could be education, and then it could also be personal development within yourself. So introspection, reflection, meditation, journaling, and then also getting outside support from people who can help you with that. So people who can help the two of you communicate in more effective ways.

One of the things that I love when Bryce and I do our work with couples is we'll watch them. We'll ask them to talk about the thing that's creating the tension. We will observe it, and then we can dive in with, oh, here's how you could maybe speak that different, or here's where maybe your partner might be misunderstanding you.

Because even as I'm watching, I could see how I could feel triggered or miss something. And then we can also help the partner to do the work to help understand their partner. I mean, there's just different ways we can dive in, right?

Just like a coach would watch from the outside of a basketball game, like a basketball coach would watch from the outside of a basketball game and be able to say, here's what you can do different. Give that a try, let's see if it works. And then we give them that suggestion.

We watch it again, see if it works, if something else needs to be tweaked. So there's ways to work through this. You don't have to do this all by yourself.

If you feel like you're in a marriage where you're like, jeez, it's been three years and I don't feel like I can express myself. I'm like, please go get support. You do not have to be in a relationship like that.

Right. Yeah, that's a good point. And what was popping up for me there is that I think I wanna do another skill building lesson because I'm thinking about like, what's a general framework if you're feeling like you're in a more one-down position, a more passive position, and you're not bringing things in?

And I think the important pieces to touch on are what you want, why you want it, and how both of you can work towards that goal. So bringing in what you want, why you want it, and then putting that, you know, giving, presenting that to your partner. And if it's like, well, no, it's all you, it's very okay to say, yeah, well, I have a plan here.

Like I'm thinking here, this is what I can do, but what are you gonna do too? We both need to be doing something. If they're totally resistant, again, I think you probably need to get some support so that maybe someone else can convey that information to them that they actually have to be doing something too to make it feel equal.

But I think those are really, you know, probably the three most important components to bringing in your needs is what you want, why you want it, and what each of you are gonna do to make that happen. What's the plan? Is that good?

I love that. Well, good, and again, if any of you are listening, Bryce has been creating these little skill videos, and they're all in the Advanced Relationship Coaching Studio platform. So again, if you're interested in getting access to that information and just checking it out, go to the website in the show notes, get a free month in the studio, come check it out.

We'd love to see you in our group call if you want to join for that. And I think that's it.

That feels good for me.

Nice. Thanks everyone.


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