Are you too needy?

October 28, 2021
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Brie Schmidt

This is a guest post written by Relationship Educator, Life Coach, CBT Practitioner, writer and podcast host, Brie Schmidt. Check out her website!

You may have heard people throw around words like “needy” and “clingy,” almost always with a negative connotation. Having needs in a relationship is often frowned upon. Some self-help and relationship experts even go as far as suggesting that you should be able to meet your own needs, completely independently. But this aspiration isn’t only unrealistic – it can be downright unhealthy.

The truth is, people are social creatures. We were highly dependent on caregivers as children, and many of these needs don’t vanish once we enter adulthood. But by ignoring these needs or trying to satisfy them all on your own, you may experience loneliness, depression, and sickness (yes, it sounds bleak, but it’s true).

The Needs Your Relationships, Um, Need To Build Connection

Part of having a healthy relationship is allowing space for interdependence. Though it can feel vulnerable and even scary to allow someone else to meet some of your needs, doing so allows for connection. And connection itself is a basic human need. Under the umbrella of “connection” are some needs worth honoring and asking for in your relationship, including belonging, acceptance, and compassion.

Belonging & Acceptance

Humans have long depended on group culture to survive. From caveman tribes to cliques in high school, people feel valuable and safe when they belong and are accepted into a group. Romantic relationships are no exception. You may struggle if your partner doesn’t prioritize time with you in their schedule, for example, because this threatens your feeling of being a unified couple, especially if they seem to belong to too many other groups. Naturally, most people want to feel important to their partner, and a struggle can ensue when one person in a relationship is busy with work outings, hanging out with friends, and family events. Similarly, being accepted by your partner is crucial. A healthy relationship is one that allows for growth and individuality, without trying to mold or control the other person.

Compassion

People need to feel heard and understood without judgment, and to be heard we turn to our closest relationships. Most people crave having a chance to speak honestly while someone listens, offers supports, and validates their position or experience. A relationship that doesn’t offer such compassion – or a lack of compassionate relationships at all in your life – can lead to feeling disconnected from others. Prioritize relationships with those who offer nonjudgmental compassion and understanding.

The Need for Authenticity

Authenticity is necessary so that we can express ourselves and make the decisions that best serve us. And authenticity is crucial in close relationships, too. If you’ve ever been in an environment or relationship where you struggled with being you, you likely understand how stressful and exhausting this lack of authenticity can be.

Authenticity allows for being honest and communicating your thoughts, feelings, and wants clearly. And this honesty is important not only for being yourself and getting what you want; this honesty also builds trust.

It’s important, then, to honor your needs for authenticity, honesty, and trust in a relationship, as they go hand-in-hand in building healthy and meaningful connections.

Safety & Physical Well-Being

Another valid and important need in relationships and life in general is a need for physical safety and well-being. While it may seem obvious to steer clear of relationships and situations where there may be physical or sexual abuse, there are other less obvious scenarios that may threaten your need for safety. For example, a less obvious red flag may be a partner who drives fast even after you’ve asked them to slow down. Or a partner or friend who pressures you to drink more than you feel comfortable with.

Remember, your physical safety, security, and well-being are important, and honoring your need of leaving dangerous situations is completely valid.

How to Get Your Needs Met

Needs for connection, compassion, and physical well-being are clearly valid and worth honoring. And these needs may, at times, depend on others to be met. For example, if you’re struggling through a hard time and craving compassion, it’s okay to open up to a trusted partner or loved one to be heard and supported. Similarly, it requires interacting with others in order to be included and accepted by them, meeting a need of belonging and acceptance.

You don’t have to meet your needs solely on your own. And if you are feeling needy in a relationship, chances are you’re experiencing needs that are completely normal and natural for humans to experience.

For more on being needy, communicating needs with a partner, and getting your needs met, listen to Episode 33 of Bad Girlfriend Radio.

Thank you again to Brie Schmidt for contributing this post!

Brie Schmidt
Relationship educator, mental health advocate and writer with experience working as a Life Coach and CBT Practitioner

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