what creates security in intimate relationships?

Most of us have a clear idea of what we need to feel secure in our relationship with our partner. 

Many of us need to feel that our needs for closeness and being kept in mind are made a priority. We may express this in some of the following ways:-

"I need to know that when I really need you, you'll be there for me"

" I need to be confident that when you make decisions, you will keep me in mind"

"I need to be sure that you won't betray the trust I have in you" (this may cover affairs, but can also include other forms of betrayal, e.g. spending our money on gambling without my knowledge etc)

Many of us also need to know that our needs for space, room to grow and develop, are respected and given the importance they need. We may express this as:-

"I need to be able to spend time with my friends without you becoming jealous or possessive"

"I need time to just be with myself and my own thoughts, without you feeling like I don't love you or that I am rejecting you"

"I need you to trust me, that when I'm not with you I will still keep you in mind and make choices that respect our relationship"

Problems can happen when one person's need for space to develop and grow collides with the other's need for closeness and comfort. There's nothing wrong with either - both are core needs we all share to some extent. It's important to try and find a negotiated position where one person's needs are not privileged at the expense of the other's. It can be challenging, but rewarding too, to hold the position that it's OK to need space, AND it's OK to need closeness and comfort. What is never helpful is to judge our partner's need for space as 'uncaring' or 'rejecting', or to view a partner's need for closeness and nurturance as 'needy' or 'suffocating'.

Couples who manage to get this balance right are engaged in a relationship 'dance' which is less about cognitive decisions to allow time for each need to be supported (although this may be very important to do), and more about an intuitive sense of what our relational 'dance steps' are. In other words, I sense when you need comfort because I know how to read your 'non-verbals' as well as what you are saying to me (and so can respond to this need at a lower level before you becme too distressed); you know when I need space and step back gracefully to allow it, (and so can respond before I become irritable and prickly!).

Working out your relationship dance steps may take some negotiation, as well as some trial-and-error, but should be well worth the effort! When each of us feels our needs are important to our partner, that s/he knows what they are and how best to respond to them, we have the right foundation from which to deal most effectively with whatever challenges we are faced with. We can meet them together as a team, knowing we have each other's back. 

Happy dahcing!

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