We hear the word “needy” thrown around in conversation all the time. Usually, it’s brought up in a degrading way, with contempt. Needy isn’t something we want to be. Being needy in a relationship is one of the worst things. In our society, neediness is frowned upon, an undesirable trait, a flaw.
But it’s none of these things.
According to Julia Nowland, a couples therapist, trainer, and speaker, neediness is actually a range of behaviors. Such behaviors include constantly questioning your partner’s commitment – going through their phones, emails, and social media. Or for example when you text your partner, who is out with friends, and they don’t respond. The reasoning for these actions is the inability to see your worth, so you need others to make you feel better about yourself.
Another sign of needy behavior, according to Nowland, is not knowing what to do when you have a need. Some people, however, believe they don’t have the right to ask for their needs to be met. That might be the result of being rejected or overlooked in the past. The common solution? Tactics that worked in the past that are not really helpful – silent treatment and dropping hints, among others.
Sometimes, however, what’s happening doesn’t have anything to do with neediness. Rather, it’s the dynamic in the relationship. For example, when your partner prefers to keep others at a distance. So when you try to get closer, they get uncomfortable and tell you that you’re needy. Or, when you prefer making plans instead of leaving everything to destiny.
According to Nowland, the relationship dynamic might also be the cause when a person has a secure sense of self. What does it mean to have a secure sense of self? It’s when you know who you are and what works for you in relationships. So if you’re usually like that, and suddenly feeling insecure, it might be your relationship.
So how can you navigate neediness?
It is important to mention again that neediness is not a defect or a flaw. It’s a span of behaviors we fall to when we have a shaky sense of self and declining self-worth. The key is to work on knowing who you are and that you’re worthy. You can start by identifying what you like and dislike, and what you want in all aspects of life. Then you need to express these preferences to others.
In addition, Nowland points out you have to pay attention to the words you use. When you say: “I am needy”, you make it a part of you that feels permanent and fixed. However, when you chose to say “Sometimes, I can act needy”, you are free to choose other routes of behavior.
Lastly, keep reminding yourself that you are worthy and of worth. Because you absolutely are.