How to determine your top 5 relationship needs (and stop limiting your dating options).

A great relationship is about two things: first, appreciating the similarities, and second, respecting the differences. – Unknown.

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Most people don’t know what they really want in a partner or relationship. 

That may be true in some cases, however, I’d argue that while some women may not know exactly what they want or what that looks like, they truly do know how they want to feel

What’s the difference, you say? Well, dear reader, let’s worksheet this out. 

I was schooling one of my friends on this very topic and she came up with a criterion on her man must-haves checklist that went a little something like this: “appreciates art but isn’t an artist.”

(Backstory: she’s an artist herself.)

So I asked her, “Now, how would that make you FEEL? If he appreciated art and could discuss it with you, roll around in it, get all art-y about it, but you were the only artist in the relationship, what feeling does that elicit in you? In two words or less.” 

Her answer?


Boom. There you have it. So she needs her partner to make her feel unique in some way. But do you see what just happened? Did you notice the shift? Her potential dating pool just BLEW WIDE THE EFF OPEN. 

If her main feeling objective in a relationship is to feel unique, guess what?

The art qualification falls away.

She doesn’t necessarily need to date an art connoisseur in order to feel unique!

Many other types of guys could make her feel unique.

Guys that she wasn’t even considering because she was focusing on the distracting (i.e, a more limiting) aspect and using it as an excuse to write guys off when it appeared they didn’t fit her criteria. 

Sound familiar? Has anyone ever called you out for being “too picky” when it comes to men?

Well, you might have just had a breakthrough.

This is really something, isn’t it? Let’s get the party started and see how this can serve you. The first step in getting the relationship you want is knowing what you want and how you think it will make you feel.

How to determine your top 5 relationship needs (and stop limiting your dating options).

1) Begin by listing all the desires you could ever dream to have met by a partner. They can be feelings, specific criteria, physical attributes, whatever. Jot down as many as you want. Knock yourself out. I’ll wait…

 2) Have you exhausted your list? Congrats. Now narrow it down to five. Yup, that’s right. FIVE. Get to trimming. You’ll be surprised what falls away when you can only choose five. But the important ones will pop out at you, promise. They’ll make themselves clear. 

 3) Pretty please, let your intuition guide you when it seems like you’re caught between two needs. 

 4) If you get super stuck, hit the Webster Dictionary. No joke, this really works. You’ll hone in on what exactly a word means. You might be surprised, at the very least, and at best, you’ll get the clarification you need on which to choose. 

 5) For the items on your lengthy list that aren’t described as feelings, do that fancy trick I outlined above and whittle down to the emotional biznasswhat is it about that certain X factor that will really, truly make you feel satisfied and fulfilled in a relationship?  

Say, for instance, one of your must-haves is that your gorgeous guy sports a seriously slick six-pack.


This has nothing to do with feelings, you may think.

But tell me this:

If you’re hanging off the arm of a dude who’s rocking the perfect pack, what would that say about you? How would him having rock-hard abs reflect on you and therefore, make you feel? Turned on? Desirable? A reflection of your need to feel athletic? Or perhaps you’d want to feel envied by onlookers?

Now, we’re on to something…

FYI: This extreme-so-I-can-make-an-argument example brings up an invaluable point: do NOT, under ANY circumstance and for the love of all that is amazing and right in this world, judge yourself for your feelings.


It is nobody’s business how you need or want to feel in a relationship. And while you’re working through this exercise, some of it may sound socially less-than-desirable, but let’s be honest — who cares? What you want is perfectly fine. 

If you ignore your true self and what your true self needs to feel in a relationship, you’ll only get yourself into unsatisfying situations.

That can lead to a bevy of less-than-ideal outcomes that will not serve your best interests, nor (and equally important), would it serve your partner. The entire relationship would be based on lies.

You, doll, simply don’t have time for that. 

Disclaimer: You may not hit it out of the park and immediately find a guy who nails all five of your major needs right out of the gate (c’mon, Rome wasn’t built in a day), but slowly and surely, if you stay focused on how you want a fella to make you to feel, you’ll be able to start checking off the majority of the musts.  

And in the meantime? You’ll have a lot of fun, get to know yourself better, and really see the men in your life differently. I cannot wait to hear how your dating life opens up after this easy-peasy practice (it’s very liberating, do it and you’ll see).

Over to you! Did this exercise help you gain some clarity? How do you want to FEEL vs what you want? I’d love to hear from you, please share in the comments below, thanks!

Julia Ford-Carther draws on her wildly extensive dating experience, Stanford-educated mind, and just plain common sense to deliver the truth about dating on her blog, The Thinking Man’s Pin Up (

She has contributed to,, and The Huffington Post, and been featured in EBONY magazine. For even more, follow her on Twitter, @JustJFC.

** Want MORE BLISS and less stress in your life? Inner Sparkle: The 21 Day eCourse is made for you. Click here to get inspired. Happy. Sparkly. **


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