For decades self-help books have warned us against coming across too needy or clingy in relationships, especially a new one. But what if learning to depend on your partner (to an extent) was actually a healthy way to help your relationship thrive?
If rom-coms and chick-lit are to be believed then neediness is not cool, in fact it can turn a romantic partner off completely. The needy character is always portrayed as a ‘loser’ who never gets the girl (or guy) in the end.
Just take a look at the film John Tucker Must Die, for example. Kate, who must trick John, a self-proclaimed playa, into falling for her, creates a ‘cool girl’ persona. She remains aloof, mysterious and unbothered, which eventually makes John want to kerb his chauvinistic ways and settle down.
That might work in a movie, but this is real life, and experts warn that hiding our feelings can actually be detrimental to a relationship. We are a species who crave social interactions and meaningful connections with others, so to deny ourselves this can actually have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing. By acknowledging our needs, we can build a more stable and happy relationship.
There are varying degrees of neediness that can affect your relationship positively or negatively. After all, we each speak our own language of love. Some of us are tactile, some of us respond to sounds or sights. Some of us, however, thrive in love when we are able to throw ourselves in at the emotional deep end.
Identifying where you fall on this scale can help you understand how it impacts your relationship and own well-being.
Generally, there are three types of dependency that determine how you approach the relationships in your life. You might not fit into just one particular style and it could even change depending on what stage of your life you’re at, so it’s important to recognize them all and understand which ones relate to you at any given time.
- Anxious: a natural-born worrier you internalize your feelings. You allow other people’s moods to affect you and can take things personally. However, your empathetic nature means that you are able to give your all in a relationship, with little or no fear of intimacy.
- Avoidant: You are independent and self-reliant. Even when you crave closeness from a partner you will opt to keep a safe distance. Neediness makes you feel uncomfortable as you prefer the freedom that comes from independence and you rarely open up about your feelings.
- Secure: You are comfortable with intimacy and can discuss your feelings with ease. You are also able to read other people’s emotions and respond appropriately to their cues without taking it personally.
Don’t worry if you think that you come across as too needy – this can have a positive impact when handled properly. Here are some ways to balance your neediness without scaring someone off:
It’s Not You, It’s the Relationship
Oftentimes someone is accused of being too clingy and needy when in fact their needs aren’t being met adequately. Neediness usually rears its ugly head when one partner requires more attention, validation and support than the other partner.
If you feel that’s true it’s important to discuss it with your partner and understand that a relationship requires equal amounts of work.
After a couple of deep conversations, the two of you might realize that your idea of a good relationship are simply incompatible. Sometimes the most loving thing is to walk away. If you get to that point, while it can be heartbreaking, you gotta realize that this is more than okay.
Leave Your Ego at The Door
A lot of people avoid sharing their intimate feelings out of fear of coming across as needy and weak. No one wants to be the annoying, naggy girlfriend who demands attention and love, but as part of a healthy relationship partners discuss their feelings and show their love regularly.
Remember – communication is the key to a healthy relationship.
Beware of One-Sided Relationships
It’s inevitable that one partner will give more than the other but if you find that you are the one who is constantly giving, without receiving much back in return, then it’s time to reassess the dynamics of your relationship. A person who has learnt to depend on their partner will sacrifice their own needs to cater to their partner, placing the couple in a cycle of unequal giving and taking.
Give Them Space
Sharing your feelings, showing that you care and expressing a need for reciprocal love is perfectly fine, but if your partner is unable to thrive because you need constant approval and attention it can cause them to feel suffocated.
If you find that you’re always seeking approval and love from your partner, ask yourself why that is. Do they constantly put you down or make comments to leave you second guessing yourself? Or do you suffer from low self-esteem, which makes you feel like you aren’t worthy of your partner?
If your neediness is a by-product of your own lack of self-esteem, it’s important to recognize this and ease the pressure off your partner. Remember, it’s not their job to make you feel good – only you can do that.
A natural by-product of being needy is that it can make you reliant on other people, which can lead to you becoming vulnerable to their moods and actions.
A needy person will falsely believe that their partner can improve their life and happiness. By doing this they’re giving their power away and spreading the idea that happiness lies in something outside of yourself.
Trust yourself first and you won’t need to depend so heavily on another person. It’s natural to encounter a few triggers and obstacles on the road to becoming more self-reliant and getting to a point of feeling truly and authentically confident in yourself.
The Bottom Line
Terms like ‘needy’ are used as an insult in relationships to silence and invalidate a person’s feelings. However, there’s nothing wrong with revealing your needy side.
In fact, it can be a very freeing experience to be able to express yourself without inhibitions. Studies have even found that women who make the first move are better at dating.
The key to a thriving, codependent relationship is your ability to balance your feelings. Express your concerns, but don’t wallow in it. Show your love, but don’t suffocate your partner. Give love but receive it too.
Finally, remember that your feelings of neediness are perfectly normal. We are built to crave love and closeness from the moment we’re born – it’s an innate part of all us.
And don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Connection is what it’s all about. Feel free to reach out to us with any comments or questions you might have, even if it’s only to say hello. If it wasn’t for our beautiful community, this place just wouldn’t feel the same.