Book Excerpt: Romantic Relationships – Meeting Your Own Needs



One of the most helpful books my husband and I have read about relationships is Why Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress by John Gray. Gray is well known for his Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus books, a few of which I’ve also read. While I wouldn’t want to overgeneralize the ways males and females interact in opposite-sex couples, many of Gray’s observations ring true in my own relationship. Also, I would prefer to offer suggestions for couples that are applicable to same-sex marriages and long-term relationships rather than focus only on male-female coupling. But my favorite part of the book is definitely relevant in any romantic relationship.

Gray offers the metaphor of a fuel tank in a car, claiming that we should be able to fill our own tanks to about 90% and then a partner can provide that last 10% to top us off. What fills the tank? You have to answer that for yourself, but some possibilities are healthy self-esteem, great friendships and family connections, enjoyable work (paid or not), interests, activities, exercise, and a general contentment with life. Think about it. Wouldn’t you want a partner who seems somewhat together and grounded with or without you?

We’ve all seen (and many of us have experienced) a partnership in which one person seems to need more than the other could possibly provide. I believe that when a partner is too needy — emotionally or otherwise — it’s not likely that the relationship will be healthy and mutually beneficial. I think it would be worthwhile for each of us to consider what percentage of our tank we’re able to fill on our own. Is it 90% for you? Or are you only at 40% or 50%? If your tank is low, it’s time to work on filling it yourself because when you expect too much from a partner, he or she is likely to cave under the pressure of your unrealistic expectations.

*This excerpt is from Communication Secrets for Success, which will be released this summer. Each chapter offers suggestions for effective communication with important people and in significant contexts in your life. I’ve included my five top tips and one bonus fun tip in every chapter. Chapter 2 is called “Communicating With Your Romantic Partner.” The tip I’ve shared here is tip number four. Thanks for reading!