Why Saying ‘I Need You To…’ Can Hurt Your Relationship

So- we all say the phrase “I need you to…” at some point in our relationship. But what does that really mean? How does it make your partner feel? Well if you haven’t noticed, they usually get defensive. And I say defensive because it typically implies they haven’t done enough of whatever it is you are asking for. “I need you to show me you love me” OR “I need you to spend more time with me” OR “I need you to be more present in our relationship.” What they hear is “She thinks I never show her love” OR “He thinks I’m never at home” OR “She thinks I don’t listen to her.” Can you see how they may become defensive?

Many times they feel that they have to prove that you are wrong. You might hear “I can never satisfy you” OR “You are always nagging me” OR “I listen to you all the time!” When you say “I need you to…” It’s really NOT about “I” but it’s about “them.” It typically implies they are not doing something right or even better- they are not meeting your expectation. What we miss is that when we say “I need you to…” We are actually placing a demand on our partner. And NO ONE likes feeling forced or manipulated to do something!

Rather than demanding or making them feel guilty, just ASK. Instead of saying “I need you to come home” SAY “I’m really hurt when you come home so late. I would like us to spend more time together. Could you come home earlier a few nights a week?” That sounds a lot better than “You never come home. You are always working late. I need you to…”

Instead of demanding, empower them with choice. “Could you” is actually a nicer way of asking. Not only do you give them the opportunity to choose, but you take away the “sting” of making them feel they have done something wrong. And even though this may be true, try asking rather than demanding. They are more likely to do it AND you still get what you want:)