Meet Six Needs and Bond for Life

Relationships make for a happy, fulfilling life or a miserable existence. So, why didn't our parents sit us down early on and teach us to do relationships well? If you think about their relationships, the answer might be painfully obvious.
There are few people doing relationships well. Some avoid the ugliness by repressing what's felt, controlling what's expressed and avoiding confrontation. Others live in an ongoing power struggle.
How can we be one of the few who enjoy fruitful and satisfying relationships -- at home, work, the health club, everywhere?
One of the first things we have to do is give up the knee-jerk reaction to blame somebody else for our existing relationships. You decide how to respond to whatever is thrown at you; and in doing so, you determine to a large extent both the nature and the quality of your relationships. And I'm going to remember writing these words the next time I’m challenged!
Maybe your grandmother is a fault-finding bitter old woman, but that doesn't have to stop you from loving her well. Look beneath the tough exterior to see her unmet needs.
We all have six basic needs that are the "secret buttons" for triggering feelings of love, connection and gratitude, says Cloe Madanes, author of "Relationship Breakthrough."
1) Certainty/Comfort: We want to feel safe, avoid pain and feel comfortable in our environment and our relationships.
2) Variety/Uncertainty: Variety and challenges exercise our bodies and minds. All of us need some form of variety in life through new people, hobbies and pastimes.
3) Significance: Every person needs to feel important, needed and wanted.
4) Love/Connection: We all need to connect with other human beings and strive for love.
5) Growth: We need to constantly develop emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.
6) Contribution: A life is incomplete without the sense that we are going beyond our own needs and giving to others and a larger cause.
You might be thinking there's no way you can meet all those needs for your grandmother. You don't have to, though. According to Madanes, when you meet two of the six needs of someone else, you have a connection. If you satisfy four of their needs, you have a strong attachment. If you satisfy all six of their human needs, the person is permanently bonded to you!
I'm not convinced that you (SET ITAL) can (END ITAL) satisfy all of somebody else's needs, but you can certainly help. And by trying, you make a splendid attempt at loving them well.
Start with an awareness of your own needs and how you're trying to meet them. Madanes says that these profound needs motivate every choice we make. Without a conscious awareness of that, though, we could and do spin our wheels for a very long time. You don't want to grow into a fault-finding bitter old woman, but neither did your grandmother.
You want to live a happy, meaningful life and help others to do the same. When you have fulfilling relationships, you're automatically helping others … and they, in turn, are helping others. And perhaps, someday parents everywhere will sit their children down early on and teach them how to do relationships well.
We all choose hundreds of times a day to meet our needs -- and those of others -- or deny them. Meeting them means choosing to accept people rather than judging them; choosing to be forthright rather than deceptive; choosing to be responsible rather than defensive; choosing to be happy rather than right; choosing to be balanced rather than busy; to have faith rather than doubt; to see what makes us the same rather than dwelling on differences; and choosing to dance to our own music rather than somebody else's.
You might keep Madanes' list handy to check your progress because relationships really do make or take your life … and you get to choose.

Author's Bio: 

Jan Denise is a journalist whose nationally syndicated column is marketed to newspapers all over the US and Canada, author of the just released "Innately Good: Dispelling the Myth That You're Not" and "Naked Relationships: Sharing Your Authentic Self to Find the Partner of Your Dreams," speaker and consultant based in McIntosh, Fla. Please e-mail her at, or visit her website at To find out more about Jan Denise, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at