Ever know someone who was needy in a relationship? Perhaps an ex? Or maybe you? Let’s talk about it.
I was talking with a client who has been in the dating scene since he got divorced several years ago, and has been really working on understanding what he needs in a relationship. He is finding that his needs get clearer once he is in a relationship, because it allows him to really look at what makes for a good match – and eventually a long term commitment. He gets to test out what he thinks he wants and discover what really matters to him in the long term.
He is beginning to understand his needs in relationships and how all the pieces of the puzzle need to fit together in order to form a relationship that works for him. What is new to him is the piece of self reflection. It is often difficult to navigate our own insecurities, shortcomings, and admitting when we find ourselves being selfish, silent or “god forbid” needy in a relationship.
To be clear, those qualities that we find hard to acknowledge, let alone admit or voice, are actually not the problem. Because every single human being on the planet can be/has been at times selfish, passive aggressive, and needy in a relationship.
The problem that my client and I have really nailed down in our sessions together is not being able to admit – and come to the table – about the issues we struggle with in a relationship. My client was dating a woman who on paper looked great and for the most part was responsible, successful, and attractive. However, when it came to understanding her triggers and taking ownership of her own behavior, she was not able to see her part of the equation. She blamed, demanded, and could not see her own insecurities.
My client was a bit disappointed and shocked, because she checked off many of the things on his “list” of what he was looking for. Unfortunately, the most essential priorities on his list – his non-negotiables – were not being met. She lacked good communication skills and did not have the ability, or even the desire, to take a look at and work on her own neediness. If we are not willing to at least acknowledge these behaviors, it will often undermine our relationships.
He ended up breaking up with her because of this, and while it took a couple of months to really see and understand things for himself, it taught him a great lesson. There was no blame, she just wasn’t a good match for him. The experience helped him find clarity and identify his own needs, his wants, and what is really important to him. That didn’t become clear until he went through this experience and was able to identify what did not work for him.
So, it wasn’t a failure or mistake, because it was a great opportunity for him to learn his own insecurities in a relationship and know what he absolutely needs in his next relationship.
That is what relationship coaching is all about. Becoming clearer and more confident about yourself and what you need and want in a relationship, and being able to say “no” to something that doesn’t work. This also makes it easier to embrace and own your needs and neediness, so that you can move through them.
What is The Difference Between Needs and Neediness?
So how do we differentiate between “Needs” and “Neediness” in a relationship? Check out the helpful list below.
Normal, valid, and important
Present in healthy couples and individuals
Necessary to thrive and have a good life
Best met by taking responsibility and initiative
Most effectively met by clear communication
Ability to voice needs clearly tends to attract others
Unmet needs stimulate action, while met needs result in contentment. The ability to voice your needs clearly tends to attract others. Being open and honest about your needs is key to a healthy and successful relationship.
Driven by emotional issues that are not often conscious
Born from desperation
Blaming your own issues on others
A result of being in a helpless/victim position
Never being satisfied and always needing more
Neediness is often a major turn off and can repel others. Having needs in a relationship is normal and healthy, but constantly needing reassurance, always placing blame on your partner, and always needing and wanting more is not.
We are not often taught to have needs, let alone voice our needs, so often times we deny them. This denial leads to us becoming needy. If you partner with me for relationship coaching, we can identify signs of neediness and also explore your needs – and how to ensure they are met in a relationship.
Sue De Santo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a therapist in private practice for over 20 years. A graduate Loyola University with a Masters Degree in Social Work, Sue is also holds a certification in Relationship Coaching from the Relationship Coaching Institute. Sue has extensive experience in women’s issues, anxiety and depression, substance abuse, grief counseling, relationship issues, divorce recovery and couples counseling. To learn more, visit: suedesanto.com.
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