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Keep Your Relationship Together: The 10 Essentials


By Dr. Michael Levittan, Licensed Psychotherapist, and Recognized Expert on Domestic Violence, Anger Management, Child Abuse, and PTSD


This is not the 50s or even the 90s. Relationships seem to be more and more transitory. Divorce rates are high, break-ups frequent, and long-term commitment is more the exception than the rule. There is hope, as there do exist some simple, universal, essentials that people require from their partners. These needs may be simple, but they are not easy to provide or to obtain from your partner.

The 10 Essential Human Needs:

1. Safety – Our instinct to survive supersedes all other needs! Therefore, our first priority on the deepest unconscious level – and sometimes on the conscious level – is to stay safe. We can provide SAFETY for our partner by not attacking them with words or actions, and by not threatening to end the relationship – even at those moments when we might think it or feel like leaving.

2. Respect – Right after safety comes respect as a primary need. When you show respect to someone, you take them seriously and give them consideration and importance as a fellow human being. A major trigger of hurt or anger is when a person feels disrespected. With mutual respect, relationships have a solid foundation that provides the opportunity to work through inevitable differences and disagreements that occur.

3. Freedom – Beyond the first amendment freedom of expression and freedom from incarceration, there is the freedom to be ourselves! With pressure, manipulation, and control, human beings are instinctually on high alert, walking on eggshells. We would not have chosen this person if we didn’t find them to be very special.

4. Trust – When you can trust someone, you have a strong feeling that they will tell you the truth. You know they care about you and you know that they “have your back.”  You have little worry about manipulation, deceit, or betrayal. Ultimately, you can relax when you are with a trustful person.

5. Recognition – People absolutely need to feel that they are “seen” and recognized as a unique person with particular tastes, opinions, motivations, thoughts, and feelings. You may have some major differences, but at the same time you can make the effort to understand both the meaning and importance of what your partner expresses.

6. Attention – Yes, childhood is long over, but we still need to feel important in someone else’s life. When we put off other activities for a moment and focus on our partner, we communicate that they are worthy, interesting, and appealing as a human being. Life can get quite “busy,” but the reward you provide your partner by giving them attention proves to be rewarding for you as well.

7. Validation – It is a universal need to feel valuable for what we do, what we say, and for just being who we are! Validation has its root in “value.” When our partner expresses a feeling or takes an action, it is easy to provide validation by acknowledging them with words, gestures, eye contact, or a simple nod of the head. A major frustration – often leading to hopelessness – is when our partner does make the effort to understand what we are expressing. Our partners do not usually need us to agree with them; they need us to feel that we “get it!”

8. Intimacy– When it comes to relationships, the “buzz” word nowadays is intimacy.  Well, what is it? One of the main paths to creating an intimate personal relationship is to make time to focus on the stories, interests, needs, feelings, thoughts, and dreams that your partner expresses to you. Then, the connection that you establish becomes a genuine and deep bond! At that point, you’ve got something both rare and beautiful.

9. Space – Though not talked about much, the primary balance to navigate in a relationship is between being part of a couple and maintaining your unique self as a separate person. You must not only maintain your own identity, but you must continue to grow as a human being. Yes, you need to have your own space to work, to see your friends, to work out, to create art or music or a short story, to breathe!

10. Playfulness – It is often overlooked, but it is an important need to take a break from the work and seriousness of everyday life. When you play with your partner, you are taking that break together – like a mini-vacation. You are relating in a way that is totally unique to the two of you. Additionally, you secure the bond between the two of you – sharing a smile, a laugh, a moment of real connection.

Dr. Michael Levittan is an accomplished and recognized expert on Domestic Violence, Anger Management, Child Abuse, and PTSD. His passion comes across in his presentations. For more information visit

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