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Tips for communicating relationship needs in LGBTQIA+ relationships

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Dec 15, 2023

Tips for communicating relationship needs in LGBTQIA+ relationships

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in a relationship for one week or a decade: relationships take work. And while building trust in relationships is not always easy, it’s always necessary. But when you or your partner(s) have baggage that you may or may not be willing to address, it can lead to complications. 

This is why identifying your relationship needs can be so important. By knowing what you as individuals need in a relationship – and what you need together as a couple – you can address these needs and work to get them fulfilled together. This is where a powerful quote from one of the most renowned life coaches, self-help authors, and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, can help you out in times of trust-building in relationships: 

“Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions.”

Tony Robbins

Here at HER, we want to help our community build some fundamental understanding of healthy relationship-building. LGBTQIA+ folks need the extra support, so we’re giving it! 

We’ll start with the six human needs, a framework through which we can understand how human relationships work. 

According to Robbins, the six human needs are:

  • Certainty
  • Uncertainty/variety
  • Significance
  • Connection/love
  • Growth
  • Contribution

Then, based on this framework, we’ll give you some tips on effectively communicating your relationship needs to deepen emotional connection.

Two hands reach out for a paper cutout of a heart, symbolizing building trust in relationships, reaching out to your partner, and exercising effective communication skills.

Six human needs and how they correlate with the queer experience

Have you ever wondered, “What are the most common relationship problems?” We’re here to tell you.

  • Affairs and infidelity.
  • Unsatisfactory physical or sexual relationship.
  • Different values and ways of being.
  • Different goals.
  • Boredom.
  • Jealousy.

These are things that can affect any relationship but can be particularly painful when you’re a queer couple. Unless you have grown up in supportive environments or spent a significant amount of time as an adult nurturing supportive environments, being a queer person can sometimes feel like a lonely experience, even when you have a partner, when you have no other people to vent and talk through to.

Regardless, transgressions can rock any relationship – queer or otherwise. If we were to peel back the layers, these problems would probably stem from a lack of human needs being met. This isn’t to say it is your sole responsibility to fulfill your partner’s needs. It’s a dual effort! That’s what we’re going to be talking about further. 

At the core of every relationship are humans. So when you’re asking, “What does a relationship need to succeed?” don’t separate it from the human aspect, too. Ask first: what does a human need? 

Tony Robbins is an American life coach who popularized the Six Human Needs framework. Robbins explains it in a way that can apply to every human, regardless of orientation. But we wouldn’t be HER if we didn’t center the LGBTQIA+ experience, would we? Let’s explore the Six Human Needs through a queer lens.

Humans need certainty.

Think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a pyramid. At the bottom, you’ve got the stuff we all need to survive – like food and water. If we don’t have steady access to these, everything feels uncertain, and it’s tough to be happy or content.

Now, if we go up a level in the pyramid, we hit things like love and feeling like we belong. Here’s where it gets tricky. Having a loving relationship, getting married, starting a family – that depends a lot on where you are in the world and what rights you have, especially if you’re part of the queer community. In some places, it’s a no-brainer; in others, it’s not that simple. It shows how what we need and want in life can be shaped by where we live and the rules there.

Human rights aside, there’s the individual aspect to it: when you’re in a relationship, is or are your partner(s) on the same page about you for important life events? Is this something you feel certain or uncertain about?

Humans also need variety.

Like everyone else, humans crave variety – that sense of novelty and new experiences. It could be something as simple as enjoying a staycation in your city or the joy of welcoming a new dog into your life. This desire for something different is universal, including for those in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Humans need to feel significant

Everyone wants to feel important, right? Like they matter. Sure, the world’s becoming more open to LGBTQIA+ folks, which is awesome. 

But it’s not just about changing the world or making huge waves. Regarding one-to-one (or more) relationships, we want to feel seen and valued by the people in our lives. We all want that moment when someone looks at us and makes us feel like we’re special like we’re seen for who we are. That goes for everyone, no matter who they are or who they love.

Humans need connection and love. 

This one’s a no-brainer: from the time we are born, we seek connection from caretakers and, later in life, from partners. It’s kind of self-explanatory, isn’t it? And it’s probably why you’re here reading this, trying to connect with your partner(s). Keep reading on, and we’ll give you some tips on how to deepen your connection.

Humans need growth.

Again, like every other need on this list, we want to be in relationships that help us grow as humans in empathy and compassion.

Humans need to feel like they’re contributing to something.

In the context of relationships, this might boil down to wanting to help the other in our relationships.

“These core needs drive every decision you make”

Tony Robbins

So why not make decisions that will drive you and your partner(s) closer? 

Let’s learn some actionable communication tips to deepen emotional connection.

A lesbian couple hug outside while it’s snowing. They’re wearing winter outerwear and look like they have their six human needs met.

Effective communication tips for emotional connection

So, how do you meet these human emotional needs in a relationship? It all boils down to one thing: communication. Consistently expressing what you need emotionally is key. You could say it’s one of the most important dating rules out there.

Your communication style is likely influenced by your upbringing, cultural background, and past experiences, and recognizing these factors can help you better understand and articulate your needs in a relationship.

Once you understand some of your human needs, you can start doing something about it. Here are some tips for strengthening your connection with your partner(s).

Turn towards each other in times of crisis, not away

According to widely-known psychological research from Dr. John Gottman, a crucial determinant of relationship success is how partners respond to each other’s bids for attention and support. This ‘turning towards’ each other in small ways can significantly impact the relationship’s longevity and satisfaction.

What does this look like practically? Gottman says that people might “bid” for attention, saying,

“I’m nervous about my job interview, can you hold my hand while we drive to the office building?”


Accepting the bid and holding your partner’s hand is an example of turning towards each other. Small interactions like this over time was the number 1 determinant of relationship satisfaction and success, according to Gottman. Do you see yourself doing this with your partner? 

Explore gifts that encourage connection

For those in long-distance relationships, tools like Bond Touch bracelets can be a novel way to feel connected. These devices allow partners to send physical tokens of thought and affection with just a press of a button that sends vibrations to their partner(s), bridging the gap between them. 

Here’s what one customer said about Bond’s products:

“[My] partner and I adore these and use them everyday. We are long distance until he moves down here with me. We both have anxiety and it helps calm us and really does make us feel more together, even during video calls, watching movies, etc.”

A customer of Bond’s products

Don’t expect constant mind-reading when communicating needs

While deep connections might lead to moments where you feel you can read each other’s minds, it’s unrealistic to expect this level of understanding all the time, especially during conflicts. Open and clear communication is essential.

Respect diverse experiences in LGBTQIA+ relationships

It’s important to remember that experiences in LGBTQIA+ relationships can vary greatly. Advice that resonates with one person may not apply to another, so take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.

Be open to disappointment

Relationships often involve compromise and managing disappointment. Embracing this reality can lead to a more grounded and realistic approach to your relationship.

A lesbian couple struggle to establish communication skills and relationship needs. One points the finger at the other person sitting, as if they’re disagreeing.

Consider couple’s therapy

Finally, don’t let stigma deter you from considering couple’s therapy. It can be a beneficial tool for all couples, including LGBTQIA+ couples, and there are many therapists who specialize in LGBTQIA-friendly counseling. 

You don’t need to exhaust all other options of dating help before landing on a therapist. Counseling really doesn’t have to be a last-resort option!

By keeping these points in mind, you can work towards fostering a deeper emotional connection in your relationship, tailored to your unique experiences and needs.

Final thoughts on finding your relationship needs

So, did we just solve all your relationship conflicts with this one article? Eh, not quite. But hey, who expected us to solve the mysteries of love in a few paragraphs? What we did do is load you up with some nifty insights to add to your love-life toolkit and hopefully bring on some uniquely queer advice that might be helpful if you’re in a lesbian dating situation.

Navigating relationships, especially when you’re juggling past baggage, can range from ‘a walk in the park’ to ‘why did I even leave the house?’ levels of complexity. 

But fear not! With a little bit of effort, a dash of patience, and this guide in your back pocket, you’re more than ready to take on the challenge. So go forth, relationship warriors! May your love life be as exciting as the final episode of your favorite TV show. You’ve totally got this – and remember, in the game of love, everyone’s winging it just as much as you are!

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Rocio Sanchez (any pronouns) is a brand strategist and SEO copywriter who dedicates themself to LGBT+ and POC-led business through digital marketing strategies. Born and raised a Dominican New Yorker, and now based in Amsterdam, they have their own digital marketing agency called Marketing by Rocio. They also host a queer fashion podcast called Transition of Style, based partly on their graduate master’s thesis completed in Paris, where they lived for four years.

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