Balancing Emotional Needs with Relationship Responsibilities

February 28, 2018 Jonathan Berg

Emotional needs and relationship responsibilities can conflict, especially when you have a mental illness. Learn why balance is important at HealthyPlace; discover how to balance emotional needs with your relationship expectations and what to do if you can't.

Balancing one's emotional needs with the responsibilities of any kind of relationship is one of the hardest aspects of being someone with a mental illness in a positive relationship. Where is the tipping point where one takes too heavy a toll on the other? How do you deal with emotional needs in your relationship?

Identifying Your Emotional Needs in Relationships

Each person, especially each person with a mental illness, has different emotional needs.

  • Are you someone who needs alone time?
  • Are you someone who desires comfort and reassurance?
  • What communication do you need from your partner/friend/family member?

For me, I know that in a depression spiral I need people to reassure me that everything is going to be okay and that they are there for me, with no judgment. I also know that I need that reassurance on my terms, in a setting that doesn't feel forced.

Identifying Your Responsibilities in Each Relationship

Again, one must identify what each relationship needs from us in order to be maintained. Some friends are okay with just one phone call every month or so, but a partner may require more. Children necessitate responsibilities far above any of these as they will need to be picked up from school or child care, have meals prepared for them, be played with, or have any other assorted task completed depending on their ages. Which of these various responsibilities can be put off and which will have to be "powered through?"

Communicating Your Emotional Needs Openly in Relationships

The most important aspect of achieving a balance between our emotional needs and the responsibilities we have in our relationships is open communication. My friends all know that I may fall off the map for a day or two if I need alone time or that I may call on them to ask for a shoulder to lean on if I am in need of that. In return, I ask them to be open with me about how I am maintaining our friendship during those periods. If I am failing in my duties, I want to know about it. Only then can we move forward to find a balance that meets both of our emotional needs in our relationship.

What to Do If a Balance Point Does Not Exist

Occasionally, I have found that I can't find a balance between these two often-conflicting needs and I am forced to choose. This is a last resort, only to be pursued after I have tried all other methods of attempting to push for a healthy midpoint. In all of these cases, I choose my emotional needs.

I am only as strong as my mental and emotional stability, and I have learned the hard way that any attempt to compromise that has a detrimental effect not only in that relationship but in all the relationships I try to keep. Sadly, I have had to let some of my relationships end because we were not able to find a point that was able to balance each set of emotional needs in the relationship.

It can be a hard thing to find balance in relationships but it is one of the most important acts we can strive for.

Next time, I'll discuss how to begin the conversation about mental illness and our emotional needs in a new or existing relationship.

APA Reference
Berg, J. (2018, February 28). Balancing Emotional Needs with Relationship Responsibilities, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 18 from

Author: Jonathan Berg

Jonathan Berg is a former non-profit executive who decided to chuck it all and become a travel blogger. He is passionate about good food, amazing experiences, and helping those who struggle with mental illness as he does. Find Jonathan on TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and his blog.

Leave a reply