Our frustrated emotional needs become conflict hidden roots!


How from frustrated emotional needs we produce conflicts

For uhumanneedspyramids to lead successful and happy lives, we all have basic needs that have to be fulfilled by our loved ones around us. And we are motivated to do the same for them. We all have human needs that reach out for satisfaction, but few of us are educated in how to take ownership of them and search for solutions.

Perhaps we tend to feel we are victims of others’ selfishness. If so, we need first to search for what grounds us into our own individuality. Our entire happiness depends first on knowing what we need, and then on getting together with someone willing to fulfill those needs. Read on!


Both male and female parts of a couple share human needs that, when satisfied, allow people to survive, develop, learn, and mature into conscious individuals. One of those needs is highly interactive: the need for love and connection, which allows people to feel appreciated and respected.

This human needs progression, from the most basic to the most spiritual, is easy to understand and accept. Even later, when people can link their frustrations to a particular need that is badly served, they can feel empowered because now they at least know what needs to be done for them to feel better.

It’s important to understand that human needs are highly social. We are connected by an implicit contract, under which we are responsible for the satisfaction of other people’s needs. When we decide to have children, we are clear that everything in their lives will be dependent on us adults to provide—otherwise they will not survive or develop normally.

Apart from parenthood, the other “social contract” in which we become responsible for each other’s needs is marriage. Any relationship is an implicit contract in which both individuals promise to help each other get satisfaction for some of the needs we all have.

To support healthier relationships, we need to help people find new ways to meet their personal needs in ways that will serve them and others in the long term. If we experience  frustrated emotional needs, never recognized or satisfied by the people around us who know us and should help us, then we feel frustration, resentfulness, and anger, which are normal reactions.

Of course, you may be looking at this pyramid with a couple of questions: First, how do I identify my needs? Then, once they are identified, especially those that are not being satisfied, how do I go about asking for relief from my loved ones?

It’s common to find married women who, after doing the painful reckoning of their own lack of satisfaction, say something like this: “Every time I tell my husband what I need, my request gets turned into an argument. Lots of anger and guilt and resentment fly around. So, I just give up, suck it up, and go on feeling deprived and more and more resentful.”

Does this sound familiar? Probably women are more likely than men to give up their needs, even recognized and blatant ones, in order to keep the family peace.

But expressing a need doesn’t have to lead to discord. Much depends on the way you express the need! Men are socialized to believe that everything their women lack is the result of the man being no good at providing everything she needs. No wonder men get angry hearing their wives’ requests—it’s as if somebody is stabbing a knife into the man’s back and declaring him unable to provide! This “silent accusation” exists only in the man’s mind and results from his upbringing, but it automatically springs to life when she expresses a need.

The truth is, both parties need to take care of knowing and expressing their needs. The familiar, exasperated question “What is it that women want?” points to this fact: We had better care about each other’s needs, if only to prevent the inevitable frustration explosion that will otherwise be coming in the near future.

It is necessary to list here the effects of prolonged needs frustration.

First, perhaps the person can accept the delay in providing signals of love and respect, given some other extenuating circumstances, but for how long?

It will take some time, but the inattention will be perceived as rejection and then as purposeful humiliation. If you, a man, stop talking to your spouse and employ the silent treatment with her, she will go from “He is tired after a long work day” to “He is so angry with me, he is isolating me” to “He despises me so much as to not want to talk to me. There is no affection left for me.”

Perhaps in the long term it would be easier to see the chain of consequences that repressing, ignoring, and trashing the other person’s needs brings. In the short term, we can easily find excuses for this or that slight, ignorance, or dismissal. In the long term, all those lost opportunities will be presented to us in a long bill, complete with their worst and most negative interpretation.

In short, by ignoring and frustrating your spouse’s needs you are digging your own grave. Sooner or later this attitude will be construed as an indication that you are not worthy of the love and attention she gives you—freely, but awaiting repayment in kind.

We can say that any relationship is an implicit contract in which both individuals promise to help each other get satisfaction for some of the needs we all have. If that is so, then by ignoring those needs you are sabotaging your own happiness.

Couples get to the point of divorce when one or the other comes to the conclusion that the other side doesn’t see his/her needs or is unable to take them into consideration, or deliberately refuses to satisfy those needs, so as to control the partner’s degree of life satisfaction.

How can you learn to express your needs in a way that will lead people to want to help you?

Some people simply take the frustration as normal and to be expected, until one day they discover they are empty, and they break emotionally.

You need to give yourself permission to get your needs met and to expect the people in your life to help you in that pursuit. Here are a few ideas that may help:

1.-Don’t accept that your lot in life is to go along constantly deprived of affection, respect, or recognition. Regardless of whatever your parents told you while you were growing up, all of us need some satisfaction in order to find our lives meaningful and valuable. If for some time you thought you were destined in life to help others without getting anything in return, now tell yourself that is a recipe for disaster because you will feel empty and angry soon.

2.- If you catch yourself constructing a situation in which you would end up as the frustrated victim, stop! Think: Why do I need to repress my needs now? Is it because later, if I’m frustrated, I can reproach him regarding how bad he is? And what does this revengeful thought give to me? Nothing but more frustration!

3.- When people spontaneously compliment you, or express how much they appreciate you, don’t deflect or ignore the compliment. Don’t say, “Oh, it’s nothing.” Look the person in her or his eyes and offer the best “Thank you” you can express.

4.- Perhaps you can think of your needs as requests? Instead of going into a resentful tirade about how bad the other person is for leaving you alone, can you try to express your need as a request? “It would be great for me if you could have dinner with me each night this week. What time is good for you?”

5.- Think of educating people around you about needs. You can ask them, “What is that you need just now? Can I do something for you, so you don’t feel alone?” Then, when it’s your turn to ask for something, you can say, “Could you help me with this issue? Is important for me to feel supported when I have to go to the doctor’s.”

You should now be able to see clearly the two ways of acting:

  1. Ignore your needs and help other people ignore them too, in order to collect resentments and keep feeling lonely and abandoned. This feeling of frustration by loved ones is great tinder for conflicts later!
  2. Learn to express your needs, because they are valid needs, and also teach other people that you respect yourself first. What about saying, with a nice attitude, “I can’t do now what you are asking me to do because I have just enough time now to do what I need to do: my____ (meditation, exercises, nap)”?


Learn to discover, respect, and express your needs, and practice expressingand sharing personal needs with your spouse…and open a channel for loving communication.

Perhaps next time we can talk about how to negotiate needs satisfaction with your spouse?

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