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How To Tell If You are Needy in a Relationship – Here are 6 Relationship Experts Tips + Insights

How To Tell If You are Needy in a Relationship – Here are 6 Relationship Experts Tips + Insights

by Julie Kurtz – LMFT, Heather Gillam – MS, NCC, LMFTA, Katherine Woodworth – LPC, CRC, Margalis Fjelstad – Ph.D., LMFT, Amy Sherman – M.A., LMHC, Sally LeBoy – MFT

How To Tell If You are Needy in a Relationship

“We’re only as needy as our unmet needs.”

~ John Bowlby

We are only as needy as our unmet needs John Bowlby Quote

Hearing you are “being needy” in your relationship is often hurtful.  

The term “needy” carries with it negative connotations and can be a cause of concern for any woman who desires a healthy, long term relationship.  If you fear you are “being needy” and wish to change a good place to start is to figure out what your relationship needs are.

Needs in relationships are non-negotiable requirements for emotional health and well being where you feel loved, happy, fulfilled, and secure in your relationship.  

Feeling loved, accepted, and secure is something we all need. However, this need is fulfilled in different ways for different people. Some desire independence in their relationship while others may desire daily connection and communication.  Neither need is wrong. People just differ on how their needs are met.

It is also important to separate what you need in a relationship from what you want in a relationship.  

Relationship wants are preferences. They may make you happy in your relationship, but they are not required for happiness.  For example, you may want a man who’s tall, dark, and mysterious, but it’s not a requirement for emotional well being and feeling loved in your relationship.  

You could feel loved in a relationship with someone shorter, blonde, and transparent. Wants are the cherry on top of your needs sundae. You still have a delicious sundae without the cherry, but the cherry makes it even better.

Differentiating between your wants and needs can offer guidance into how to manage “being needy.”  

If you are truly communicating your needs and they are not being met by your significant other, your SO may feel you are “being needy.”  What this really means is they are not willing to meet your needs. You will be unable to have a healthy, satisfying relationship with this person.  

Individuals may have different needs in a relationship, but it is not necessary that the partners’ needs match each other. 

However, it is necessary that you communicate your needs with your significant other and both work to compromise and meet the other’s emotional and relational needs for a healthy relationship blossom and grow.

On the other hand, if you fear you are “being needy” because your wants are not being met, you’ve likely confused your wants with your needs and clarifying these with yourself is in order.  

You can do this by writing a list of all the things that would make you happy in a relationship. These are your wants. Then, circle the ones that are non-negotiable to have in a relationship, these are your needs.  

If you find the area of distress lies within your needs and not your wants, causing you emotional distress, communicate them with your partner. 

If your partner cannot or is unwilling to meet your needs, this is not a healthy relationship.

A healthy relationship is one where both you and your man’s needs are met.  In that sense, you are both “needy” but frankly, who isn’t?

Heather Gillam, MS, NCC, LMFTA – www.sisulumicounseling.com

 
Katherine Woodworth

That special one is the one that is the puzzle piece that fits your puzzle. 

If they feel you are too needy then you may what to ask if they fit.

Everyone is a sum of their experiences.  So, everyone has different needs.  So, everyone has different definitions of what is considered needy.  The question is, “Do you feel that you are too needy?”.  Not because someone else feels you are but do you feel you are. 

If you feel you are, then look at why you fell that way. 

1. Have they shown you they are not to be trusted? 

If so, you may want to re-evaluate your situation.  This can be easily taken as being needy because you don’t trust them. 

2. Have they changed in what you thought was their normal? 

This tends to make someone feel more needy because they need reassurance the person still wants to be there.  That would mean you need to talk to them.  If you believe what they say, then remind yourself all is well.  If you don’t then you might want to ask if you should be there. 

3. If there are no indications as to why, have you felt needy the whole time? If so, do they like that?  

They have built a relationship knowing it.  Or What made you feel that way now?  This could be a trigger from a past relationship or fear.  If so, then you may want to work with someone to process that experience and close that chapter of your life. 

4. Some people are physically affectionate (snuggling, hand holding, hugging, etc) while others are not. 

If you are with someone who is not and you are, then you will feel needy but actually it is just different styles of love.  Sometimes this can be worked through and sometimes you just need what you need. 

People use this term all the time.  Any one person can say what feels like “needy” to them, but not for you.  People who attempt to help us give us their impression.  I call that “collecting data”.  That is awesome they are willing to put the time in for you.  Collect the data, evaluate the situation but make your own choice. 

Be you! Be happy! Be safe!

Katherine Woodworth, LPC, CRC – www.fairwaycounseling.com

Margalis Fjelstad

No one likes overly needy people, which makes it hard to acknowledge your own real needs from neediness. 

It’s easy to recognize neediness in others because you feel overwhelmed, besieged, guilty, and exhausted whenever they call, text, or you’re around them. They always want more from you than you want to give or that feels fair.

Everyone needs recognition, acceptance, and connection, which we primarily get from relationships with others. 

Humans very much need others. If you’re in a relationship where you aren’t feeling seen and heard, or your partner seems to always be in chaos, or he’s distant and feels unavailable, it’s highly likely that you will start to feel needy. This can make you susceptible to feeling used or being manipulated.

Narcissistic partners can very quickly make you feel extremely needy, and then use that against you to get everything their way. 

In the beginning of the relationship they give you extravagant attention, glorification, and idealization to get you hooked, and then pull it away to keep you begging for “how it used to be”. They may even mock you or complain that you’re “too selfish or too needy,”

Because our culture both glorifies and degrades women simultaneously, even independent looking women often have deep feelings of subordination, inadequacy, anxiety, insecurity, or loneliness. Narcissists zero in on any hidden sense of neediness that you didn’t even know was there.

So, how can you figure out if you are being overly needy in a relationship?

You only want to be with him.  

Are you feeling that if you’re not with him he’ll forget about you? Do you feel a need to keep him only focused on you? Are you trying too hard to be everything he needs? Do you feel empty and lonely if you’re not with him?

You’re overly giving. 

You give him a lot more time and attention than you get back. 

  • Do you give in to whatever he wants to do, but don’t feel that he considers or willingly participates in the things you want? 
  • Have you given up on your interests, friends, or time with your family and feel resentment? 
  • Do you feel the relationship is severely out of balance?

You feel you must beg to get his attention. 

You ask for his attention, but still don’t seem to get enough. You may want to gather some actual data on this, since it can be very subjective. 

  • How much time do you actually spend together compared to the time he spends on his interests and friends without you? 
  • Do you find it hard to figure out things you enjoy on your own?

You find yourself manipulating to get his attention. 

You send a dozen texts to his one. You call or email him much more than he does. You pout, act hurt, argue, make ultimatums, or guilt him into doing what you want. You feel bereft and empty when you’re not in constant contact with each other.

Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com

Julie Kurtz

Looking back throughout our history as human beings, there has always been a need for attachment.  

Our mammalian mid-brain is wired to seek out others and connect.  This is a part of the human experience…the need to connect emotionally to one another.

  • When do we cross the line?
  • When is being “needy” way too much?
  • When does needing another in a healthy way transfer into being too “needy”?

Signs of Normal Dependence

  • There is a balance between both partners needing each other at different times.  Sometimes they need you and sometimes you need them.

  • You have a life.  Even if you are shy and introverted, you have hobbies, friends or interests outside of the relationship.

  • Trust is foundational in relationships.  If you are jealous frequently and questioning what or where your partner is then this is not normal dependence.

  • Letting go and being flexible.  Sometimes situations or plans don’t quite go your way or the way you imagined them to be.  Being healthy is when you can go with the flow, let it go and not hold it over the head of your partner all the time.

Signs of Clingy Behavior or Unhealthy Neediness

The need to control the other person and their every move.  

Why are you wearing that, where are you going, who are you hanging out with are all signs of control and the need to exert power over the other person.  

This stems from an underlying feeling that one is powerless, out of control or has low self-esteem.  When someone tried to control another they usually feel “out of control” themselves.

Acting suspicious where you frequently question the words and actions of another.  

An example might be when someone says to their partner, “I thought you said you were going to the library, where were you?”  Constantly questioning for reassurance has an underlying theme.  That person is insecure and has an irrational need to find or catch their partner in a lie.  

Every action is motivated by the need to validate their internal belief that someone will hurt them so it feels better that they uncover it before they get hurt.

No one likes someone who is needy.  

Making your partner your life and relying on them to meet every one of your needs is unrealistic.  Eventually your partner will fail and they will never be able to meet every need.

When one partner is self-absorbed and only thinks of their own needs is another red flag that one is “needy”.  

A relationship should be balanced with both partners taking turns relying on the other, sharing the talking and listening and not just concerned for their own well being.  If you or your partner is unable to show empathy for the other this is another red flag.

What to do if you are Too Needy?

1. Take a deep breath.

Stopping and breathing is the first step in slowing down the mind and taking you out of your “self” so that you may find a place of perspective.

Being aware of your “breath” is also termed mindfulness.  

It is the ability to slow down, become centered and re-connect to how you are “feeling”.  Awareness of how you FEEL and how your body FEELS is essential in the first step of mindfulness.  No judgments of right or wrong are involved in this step.

2. Engage the “thinking brain”.

Once you breath and become aware of how your feel and how your body is reacting, you are ready for the next step.  Pretend you have to climb a mountain and when you get to the top look down.  Everything looks so much smaller when up on a mountain.

Perspective taking is also known as engaging the “thinking brain”.  This is what differentiates us as human beings.  

Our ability to feel and to engage our brain to think through solutions is critical to survival.  Finding solutions to the problem, thinking through the consequences and thinking how the other person is feeling is all about perspective taking.

I call this the “mountain top” experience.  Every time you are in a fight, flight or freeze state – BREATH and then CLIMB the MOUNTAIN to think first before responding.

3. Build a life outside of the relationship.

Make friends, find hobbies and get involved in any passion outside of the relationship.

4. Be Flexible and Go with the Flow.

No one needs to control everything.  It is an illusion to think you can control others or every situation.

If your need to control is such that it spills in to controlling your partner, you need help!  This is your unhealthy need to control.  

This will never lead to a healthy functioning relationship.

Understanding that life will naturally have ups and downs, and that our loved ones will be both perfect at times and fail at others is a tenet of a healthy partnership.

5. Learn to Trust.

First you must love yourself and trust yourself.  Then you must learn to trust your partner and love them for who they are.  If you are checking up on every move, text, email and call questioning their every move and motive then this is a hallmark your relationship is not balanced and healthy.

If you or your partner is struggling with one or more of the above issues, you may need to seek help.  

Contacting a local therapist or counselor in your area is one of the first steps.  Whether your struggle stems from your childhood, what you have learned or your temperament is not as critical.  

Seeking new ways to be in a healthy relationship that has a strong foundation built on trust is the most important path you can take.  Breath, Climb Your Mountain, Think and Find a Better Solution and perspective.

Julie Kurtz, LMFT – www.juliekurtz.com

Sally LeBoy

Determining whether or not you are needy isn’t simple.  

This is because there is no definitive measure of neediness.  Also people’s level of need fluctuates depending on the situation.  In times of high stress most of us need a little help with our functioning.  However, it’s probably safe to say that we shouldn’t need help most of the time.

I think one measure of neediness is the level of anxiety you feel when you are alone.  

For some people being alone is really terrifying.  These people feel helpless and frightened without the proximity and support of another person.  Although most people don’t want to be alone permanently, it’s really important to tolerate being alone at various times.  This ability to be alone helps you make good choices, choices that are in your best interests rather than choices made out of fear and need.

It’s important to take cultural issues into account.  

Different cultures have different definitions of need.  In a culture that places a high value on individualism, people are expected to be on their own earlier. In a more collectivist culture, the need for more togetherness is compatible with the cultural values.  

As with all cultural differences it’s only a problem if it’s a problem for you.  If you are compatible with the norms of your culture you probably won’t question your choices.  What’s important is to feel empowered to achieve your goals within the context of your cultural norms.

I think you are too needy if you can’t accomplish your life goals without significant emotional and sometimes physical support from others.  

Again it’s a balance.  Is somebody whose parents pay for their education needy?  Probably not.  But if those parents are then empowered to make decisions over their child’s career choices both parent and child are probably emotionally needy.  

The parents can’t let go and the child can’t stand up to them and move forward. People who don’t achieve healthy separation from their families will often encounter difficulty in their adult relationships.  They will be looking for someone to take on the role of the parent rather than looking for an equal partner to share their life with.

Here are some signs that you may be too needy in your relationships:

  1. You can’t make up your mind or you are afraid to make up your mind without his permission or agreement.
  2. Your opinions aren’t strong but rather are dependent on the input of others.
  3. You are afraid of conflict; you seek agreement even at the cost of your own thoughts, feelings or needs.
  4. You always defer.
  5. You are afraid to take risks even when there is something you really want.

It’s never too late to grow yourself up but it takes commitment and work. 

You will have to learn to tolerate loneliness and indecision.  But the autonomy and self-respect you gain are definitely worth the effort.

Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com

Amy Sherman
  • Do you have trouble opening yourself up to another person?  
  • Are you afraid of losing your partner if you speak up? 
  • Do you feel lost if you don’t have someone in your life?  
  • Do you depend on others to make you happy? 
  • Are you aware of your own needs? 
  • Do you have difficulty being alone?

These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself to understand if you are needy and too dependent. So, what can you do?

1. Evaluate your self-esteem. 

  • What do you really think of yourself? 
  • Are you overly critical, looking outside yourself for validation? 

If so, work on being kinder and gentler, perhaps more forgiving.  Allow yourself the pleasure of not being perfect.  Give yourself permission to be who you really are – and that is an autonomous, capable, mature individual, who can think for herself.

2. Reassess your interests, talents and gifts. 

You are unique and special, so please acknowledge that.  Focus on all that you do, your contributions, expertise and experiences. This will remind you of how important you are and your significance in your social community.

3. Review your past relationships. 

Can you notice any common patterns or behaviors?  Now is the time to brainstorm new ways you can respond to similar situations so you don’t repeat the same mistakes or fall back to old ways.  Change is possible only when you are aware, so step “out of the box” and try new strategies and practice new techniques that will help you grow.

The key is to know who you are and what you are deserving of.  

Once you realize your value and boost your sense of self, you will no longer feel needy and your relationship dynamics will change.

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com

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