“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.”
~ Mandy Hale
This relationship dynamic is incredibly common and we can understand it more clearly through the lens of attachment theory.
There are 3 main attachment styles that we can carry in adult relationships.
Secure attachment, anxious attachment, and avoidant attachment. I will go over each in more detail.
A securely attached person finds it easy to trust and balance both positive and negative aspects of a relationship.
They do not over-worry about the relationship dynamics and can easily communicate their own needs as well as support their partners needs in a balanced way.
A securely attached person tends to have high self esteem, finds it easy to share their feelings with others, and is able to tolerate both closeness and independence in a relationship.
Secure attachment is the obvious goal in most relationships, however, most people have to work toward this internal security.
An anxiously attached person has a great capacity for love and closeness, but they tend to worry about whether their partner is able to meet their emotional needs.
They are sharply attuned to fluctuations in their partner’s mood and behavior and tend to take them personally. They may act out in ways to get their partner’s attention and only feel at ease when their parter provides emotional reassurance.
An avoidantly attached person on the other hand tends to prefer independence and autonomy.
Though they want to be close and intimate with others, they don’t spend much time worrying about their relationship. They tend to be hyper aware of behaviors from their parter that appear to control or encroach on their personal space, causing them to crave more distance.
Ironically, it is extremely common for people with avoidant and anxious attachment to find themselves paired up.
Both partners become triggered by each other’s needs (i.e. the more anxious [or “needy”] you get, the more avoidant [or “emotionally unavailable”] he gets, and vice versa) making for an impossible situation!
A quick way to gain insight is to take the online attachment quiz here. Here you can decipher both you and your partner’s attachment styles.
You can explore this question deeper by reading the book Attached by Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller, which I highly recommend! They help you understand the ins and outs of your attachment style and provide insight for how to work towards secure attachment.
Seeking counseling is another great way to address your attachment style and find ways to have more security in your relationships. I have helped many young adults discover security and self confidence so that they can navigate and choose relationships that are healthy and sustainable.
Bottom line: you are not alone in this struggle.
Self-awareness is the key to lasting change.
If you are curious about yourself and willing to be vulnerable, new relationship opportunities will arise in ways you never thought possible.
Laura Houd, MA, LPC – www.intraconnectionscounseling.com
If you have found yourself wondering if you are being needy or if he is emotionally unavailable, know that you are not alone. Use this as a chance to reflect on the signs and have important conversations that will move your relationship forward.
Signs he may be emotionally unavailable:
Is he inflexible in adapting his routine for your needs, or unwilling to make compromises in how you spend time, if it doesn’t revolve around what’s consistently revolve around what is best for him?
-Short Term Intimacy
Emotionally unavailable people tend to have an alluring ability to build short-term intimacy.
If your partner says their prior relationships all ended when deeper intimacy usually begins to evolve, see this for the red flag that it is. Emotionally unavailable people can get caught up in patterns of chasing the push-pull dynamic and can avoid the deeper vulnerability that building long-lasting intimacy requires.
– Early Seduction
Someone who isn’t available emotionally can also be prone to the art of seduction, but can use it as a tool for power-play and conquest, rather than as means of cultivating deeper connection.
Is he looking for your flaws, or does he embrace those parts of you that make you perfectly imperfect? Emotionally unavailable people look for reasons to distance themselves.
Is he secretive about his friends, past, or any major aspect of his life? When someone is emotionally unavailable, they can use evasiveness as a shield against deeper intimacy.
Signs You May Be Too Needy:
–You Look Outside Yourself for Validation
Do you find yourself seeking his acceptance or reassurance consistently to ease anxious thoughts or feelings of mistrust? Do you constantly call or text, check his social media, or become worried when he doesn’t respond to you right away?
-You Adapt to His Every Whim
If you find yourself too eager to compromise about even the things that are most important to you, you are being too accommodating. See this as a chance to go inward with self-compassion, to reflect on what you need for more balanced connection in your life.
-You Easily Forgive Hurtful Actions
If you are too needy, your ability to forgive hurtful actions may come from a place of codependency. If you find yourself able to consistently rationalize destructive behaviors and easily forgiving painful actions, see this as a sign as well.
-You Find Yourself Consistently Giving More
If you call and text him more than he contacts you, find yourself consistently making plans with him and doing sweet nothings but aren’t receiving the same appreciation in return, take note.
Building deeper intimacy, requires trust, vulnerability and our willingness to show up authentically.
If you are unsure if he is emotionally unavailable or if you are too needy, seeking professional help can provide you the foundations for support you need to reflect honestly and act intentionally and proactively to cultivate the long lasting connection that you seek.
Delia Berinde, MS, LPCC – www.lookingforwardcounseling.com
Are you in a dating relationship where you’re consistently left wondering whether you’re needy or the guy you’re with is emotionally unavailable?
Let’s explore some possibilities below.
First of all, know that you could be facing a combination of both factors:
He could be emotionally unavailable, which in turn leaves you feeling needy. Or, perhaps, you exhibit needy behaviors that lead him to pull away, making him appear unavailable.
First, let’s look at your side of the pattern.
To help with your own self-reflection, ask yourself whether you frequently feel needy in relationships.
- In other words, is your tendency to feel needy a pattern?
- Do you often feel like you give more than you receive when it comes to love, communication, and attention?
- Do you look to the person you’re dating to fill all of your needs for emotional support, socializing, and fun?
Keep in mind that in the healthiest relationships, there is a healthy balance between time spent alone, time spent with a partner, and time spent with friends or doing hobbies.
The person you’re dating should not be expected to be your sole support system—it’s too much pressure, and we benefit from having others in our emotional realm who support us.
If you’ve done some self-reflection and recognize that you don’t tend to be needy in relationships, take a look at his behaviors.
Signs of an emotionally unavailable partner could include any or all of the following: broken communication (he doesn’t respond, or responds much later nearly all of the time); he is not present when you are facing difficulty; he is uncomfortable discussing basic emotions and needs in the relationship; and you may have a hard time truly connecting with him because you sense his distance.
If you notice some of these signs, you may be dating someone who isn’t emotionally available enough to be a healthy partner to you.
True emotional unavailability is unlikely to change without true dedication to understanding its cause and working on it; is he showing willingness and taking action on this?
If not, and if being in this relationship is causing you undue stress, it may be best to re-think the relationship.
Being in a relationship where you frequently feel your emotional needs are going unmet is a really difficult and lonely place to be.
Consider working with a therapist individually to discover if you have a pattern of falling for emotionally unavailable men. And ensure that you get support from friends/family who are emotionally healthy and available.
An emotionally healthy partner should be reasonably consistent in communicating with you, should be able to listen to you, express caring feelings, and show that he’s trying to be there for you during difficult times.
Keep in mind that sometimes men show support differently; just ask yourself it he seems genuinely interested in you and in trying to be there for you.
Jennifer Meyer, M.A., LPC, NCC – www.jenmeyercounseling.com
Russell Simmons, an entrepreneur who has made millions of dollars, is quoted as saying “Whatever you chase will run away from you. So, stop chasing success and realize you already have it all.”
When we take the first part of this quote and apply it to romantic relationships, it describes a common phenomenon.
When asking yourself the question, “Am I needy or is he emotionally unavailable?” the answer may be “yes” to both.
When it comes to dating and romantic relationships, it happens very regularly where someone who has an anxious attachment style finds themself in relationship after relationship with someone who has an avoidant attachment style.
Attachment styles are formed very early in our lives, normally by the time we are three years old.
Though they can change throughout our life based off of positive or negative experiences we have, the attachment that we form early in life with our parents influences us into adulthood.
- Someone who forms an anxious attachment style wants to be very close to their partner, tends to be sensitive to any potential signs of rejection (i.e. a text that isn’t answered right away) and gets upset easily if things don’t go their way in the relationship.
- Someone who forms an avoidant attachment style on the other hand feels uncomfortable with too much closeness, struggles to open up emotionally, and wants to maintain independence when in a relationship.
One person in the relationship could be classified as needy while the other could be described as being emotionally unavailable.
When these two attachment styles come together, the partner with the anxious attachment style gets triggered. If they sense their partner pulling away, they want to draw them back in closer.
They may do this by sending multiple texts in a row, worrying too much about what their partner is doing, and wanting to spend excessive amounts of time together in an effort to bring their partner back and feel better.
Meanwhile, the partner with the avoidant attachment style doesn’t realize anything is wrong because their natural way of being is to be removed and distant.
They don’t see the big deal in not texting back right away or in spending lots of time apart. As the anxious partner tries harder and harder to bring them closer, the avoidant partner may start to feel stifled and pull back more and more because they don’t want too much closeness.
So what can you do if you think this dynamic is going on in your relationship?
If the two of you can commit to attend therapy (either together as a couple or individually) to start improving your attachment style, there may be hope.
Otherwise, the answer is to find a partner with a secure attachment style who will not trigger you as much as a partner with an avoidant attachment style will.
I recommend reading the book “Attached” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller to learn more about your attachment needs and how to find a healthy relationship.
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
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