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Are You Needy? 6 Signs of Neediness in a Relationship

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As a longtime freelance writer, Bev loves to write about human relationships.

Nobody likes being accused of neediness.

Nobody likes being accused of neediness.

Has your partner told you that you are needy or clingy? Or do you suspect that certain aspects of your behavior are driving a wedge between you both? Do you worry that you love them ‘too much’? Discover the signs of neediness and learn how to reduce them in order to have a healthy, balanced, two-way relationship.

1. You're Over-Invested in the Relationship

Usually this occurs when one partner doesn’t feel secure. It’s like they are living on a knife-edge and any minute their partner might choose to end it. They also think this relationship is their only chance at love and happiness so they have to preserve it at any cost.

This makes them super-sensitive to the other person’s moods and wishes. The non-needy partner must be kept perfectly happy. So the needy one is quick to placate, to soothe, to fulfill the desire of the other.

2. You Want to Be With Them All the Time

You can’t help it. You are only happy when in her company. When you are not with her, you need the lines of communication to be open at all times. So you phone her, or text her, or instant-message her.

The trouble is, you are preventing your girlfriend (or boyfriend) from living a normal everyday life. S/he has to work, be able to be with her family, talk to friends, shop, and relax. And not always with you.

3. You Need Constant Validation

You feel you’re not dressed right, your hair is a mess, your body shape is wrong so you seek validation from your partner. Your lack of confidence is like a worm burrowing away beneath the surface, creating cracks and fissures in the relationship. You kind of know what you are doing, but you can’t stop.

Seeking validation from your partner is quite normal and we all do it. A little reassurance is all we are looking for. However, if it is constant, it’s like a tap drip-dripping. It will drive your partner around the twist. They will get fed up of saying the same things over and over.

4. You Can't Let Them Out of Your Sight

You can’t let your partner out of your sight. Your eyes follow him around the room at parties and functions, and you insist that he stays close. This is controlling behavior and often a sign of neediness. Your possessiveness is showing.

5. You're Always Asking What They're Thinking

It’s as if you need to be inside his head. What is he thinking? Why is he wearing that facial expression? What’s going on in his mind? How is he really feeling right now? If you are asking constantly what your partner is thinking/feeling then know that it’s a sign of neediness.

6. You Think All They Needs Is You

She’s got you in her life now, so why does she need friends? Why would she even bother with her waste-of-time family? Surely you are everything to her? You do your utmost to cut her off from friends and family. You fill her time with… you.

This is neediness in the extreme, and another example of trying to control someone else in order to bolster your own deficiencies.

How to Change Your Needy Behavior

First of all, you must know the difference between normal behavior between couples and those where one partner is needy and dependent on the other for validation. On occasion, we may all demonstrate any of the above. The difference with needy people is that they do it all the time. To the point where it becomes difficult for their partner to deal with.

Stop Giving Away Your Power

You are an independent autonomous human being. When you are in needy mode, you give all your power to someone else. In other words, it’s their responsibility to cater to your happiness, to fulfill your emotional requirements. Is that fair? Is it healthy? No. They can never reassure you enough to give you back your self-confidence. It’s like trying to fill a bottomless pit with sand, teaspoon-by-teaspoon.

Photo by angga aditya on Unsplash

Photo by angga aditya on Unsplash

Do You Want to Suck All the Life Out of Your Relationship?

Your constant neediness is almost vampire-like. Each time you seek validation, or control, or try to get in their mind, a little bit of love is slurped away. It’s like a constant bleeding wound. Ask yourself if you could stop? Just before you open your mouth to ask the question or to assert control over your partner, just stop and see if you could hold back. Say to yourself, “Could I be secure and happy in this moment without asking this question or seeking validation?”

The basis of most needy behavior is fear. It might be rooted in childhood when the child was abandoned by a parent or close carer. It could be connected to abuse or bullying. It might be that the needy one is scared of being alone; that they have never learned to enjoy their own company. So they project this fear onto their current relationship and expect their partner to quell the discomfort and anxiety.

Find Ways to Increase Your Self-Esteem

Research has shown that neediness and depression are very often connected, as demonstrated in this 2006 study. Therefore it makes sense that a needy person should seek ways to increase their self esteem and deal with their depression. That might involve counseling, psychotherapy or some form of self help, such as journaling or attending group therapy.

Sometimes all that is required is for the needy partner to acknowledge that they are putting strain on their relationship and to make efforts to avoid such behavior. In other words, they can train themselves not to engage in needfulness. Their reward is in a more equal and enjoyable relationship with their partner, and any future partners.

Pay Attention to Your Needs

Don’t try to suppress these feelings. Bring them out into the light and examine them. Spend some time journaling or just thinking about the possible reasons for your panicky need for validation. Think about your childhood. Understand that that small child is OK now. That they came through it, that you are OK.

Take a look at the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you to keep your attention on the most important time of your life—right now. This moment. The past is gone. The future is simply a figment of our imagination. If you can be strong and reasonably happy in this now moment, all is well. You don’t need past hurt and pain dictate how you live in the present. You are not your past.

A Healthy Balance of Power

No-one likes to think of a relationship being based on the power each partner holds, but it is inevitable that sometimes decisions for both are made by one. So it’s a good idea to talk about these things in a grown-up manner. There are issues that will always demand a joint discussion and decision, but there are others where one partner is happy to let the other deal with them. It’s different for every couple in a long-term relationship.

What If Your Partner Is Needy?

Are you feeling uncomfortable when your partner demands your opinion on everything s/he wears, their physical appearance, etcetera? And then analyzes your responses in detail? Do you feel hemmed in when they insist on knowing where you are all the time, who you are speaking to?

You have to make an assessment whether their neediness is due to a temporary situation, such as having someone close to them pass away. Or whether they are always like this and nothing is going to change. In the second case, you must understand that nothing you do or say is going to fix them. Your support is like a drug to them.

Try having a good heart-to-heart conversation where you explain that it’s healthy for two people to have some time apart. That s/he always looks good to you and doesn’t need to keep asking for reassurance. Sometimes they will listen and understand. Others won’t be able to accept that their behavior is needy.

Maybe they will be open to the suggestion of therapy? Some ideas are laid out above. You’ll have to be tactful and gentle when making such suggestions.

Your Goal Is to Understand Your Needs

No-one wants to be accused of neediness; it feels like a sign of weakness or of hanging on to a partner in desperation. The key is to recognize what it is that drives this behavior. And then to learn how to soothe it, not suppress it. Learn how to express your feelings in a controlled and adult way. Your partner will appreciate it and your relationship will be all the better for it.


Dr. Craig Malkin: How To Overcome Neediness

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: I'm not really 'needy' according to your article. However many times, especially recently, I often need to talk to someone to make myself feel whole. I don't have many close friends so I end up talking to guys who are interested in me even though I'm not interested in them. I know this is wrong, but at those moments its all I can do. Am I like a needy person in my behavior?

Answer: It sounds to me as though you need validation, which is something we all feel from time to time. The trouble is, you are not going to get that from serial dating or chatting with people you are not interested in. The way to deal with it is to bolster your confidence to the point where you don't need that validation. You are whole already, so you have to tap into that vein of knowing. To sound a bit corny... you have to fall in love with you. Because if you don't find yourself fascinating and gorgeous, no one else will.

© 2018 Bev G