Did your ex leave you because of your neediness? Or maybe you left them but still recognize that your needy tendencies probably contributed to the breakup.
Whatever the case, I’m not surprised.
You see, one of the most common reasons why a romantic relationship fails is due to neediness in one or both participants of it. At least that’s what I’ve recognized during my years of helping people with various love-life challenges.
However, note that it’s not the sole neediness that causes breakups, but more so, the needy tendencies it gives birth to. These tendencies include a person’s excessive calling, texting, gift buying, jealousy, clinginess, pleasing, or the inability to stand up for themselves.
In this article, I will explain what neediness is, how it impacts your romantic relationships, and in the end, I’ll share ways on how to stop being needy, so you save yourself from a future breakup.
What is neediness
We can define neediness as an emotion with the potential to bring any relationship to a bitter end in a heartbeat. Neediness shows up as your desperate longing for intimacy, love, and affection and can make a person exasperated, miserable, or even mad.
Generally, being needy means being emotionally invested in another person with such intensity that you begin to sacrifice your thoughts, opinions, and feelings for them.
With that said, let me clear up one common misconception that people tend to have.
Emotional investment is required in any healthy relationship. You should be affected by your partner or anyone who means a lot to you. In fact, you should even be influenced and moved by them. That’s a sign of maturity.
However, what’s toxic and a sign of immaturity is to dismantle and reconstruct your thoughts, opinions, and feelings for your partner. Or anyone for that matter. Put differently, changing your very essence for another person is a big no-no.
Unfortunately, this self-betrayal is surprisingly what many people struggle with. I even found that it’s usually the reason why their relationship didn’t last.
And here’s another peculiar finding I came across recently. Needy people regularly exhibit a myriad of codependent tendencies. Most commonly, they resort to making their partner their primary source of happiness, fulfillment, and life meaning.
In general, neediness impacts your behaviors like cocaine impacts your dancing abilities, that is, in such a significant way, you can’t hide it from others.
Neediness will reveal itself even when you try to pretend you’re secure. It will slowly ooze out the cracks of your idiosyncrasies and subtle disconnects between the actions you do and the words you say. And the more you try to push your neediness away or pretend like it’s not there, the more it prevails.
Below are some of the most common behaviors neediness makes you perform when you’re in a relationship. Can you spot yourself in any of them?
Take this list as your first step to overcoming neediness, considering you have to spot it before you can deal with it successfully.
- You frequently tried your best to “wow” and surprise others to keep their attention or affection intact due to your fear of them losing interest.
- You went on countless shopping sprees to buy your ex a ton of fancy presents because you think that would get you extra “relationship points.”
- You gave your ex anything they asked for because you were afraid that if you stop pleasing them, they will stop loving and caring about you.
- You continuously made up false stories about yourself to impress your ex and get their admiration.
- (If you’re a dude) You started acting overly dominating and brash because you wanted your ex to view you as an “alpha.” Again, this is just another way to cover up your insecurities and lack of self-worth. Hell, maybe you’re a woman, and you’ve done that. Gasp.
- You would feel a tsunami of negative emotions if your ex didn’t call you back in a period that was reasonable in your mind. Maybe you’re still struggling with this problem today!
- You called your ex three times a day just to check (get reassurance) if they still liked you.
- You went through your ex-girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s phone to see if they’re chatting with anyone else while you were together.
- You put your ex on a proverbial pedestal. Meaning, you began treating them like a celebrity or thinking that they were a god/goddess to who you had to prove yourself.
- While you were still together with your ex, you were obsessively wondering if they were cheating when meeting friends at the bar and imagining all kinds of icky, worst-case scenarios.
- You kept looking for your ex-partners’ approval in everyday situations like picking the TV channel. The thoughts of a needy person would go, “I’m worried that my partner doesn’t like this TV channel? Maybe I should pick something else.”
I hope these examples expanded your awareness on how your neediness might’ve influenced or totally sabotaged your previous relationship and how it can undermine your future ones as well.
Ultimately, your overall attraction as a person will be mostly determined by how needy you are. The more needy behaviors and tendencies you display, the less attractive you will be to your dates and future partners.
But the same concept also goes the other way around. The less needy characteristics you display, the more attractive and magnetic others will perceive you. This is why it’s paramount to learn how to stop being needy.
How to spot needy behaviour in yourself
If you think you were or still are displaying any needy behaviors but are not sure, consider the intention behind your actions.
Interestingly, what makes a behavior needy and unattractive is solely the intention lurking behind it.
Let’s say you surprise someone with a gift, with the aim of wanting to gain their validation, approval, or maybe even a gift in return. By attaching this specific intention to the simple gesture of handing out a present, you’re signifying neediness.
But when you do the same action without expecting or wanting anything back, you’re signifying non-neediness.
Here’s another example. For instance, you call your date something cute and funny, like “sweetheart.” If the intention behind that statement is to hear, “aww, that’s so cute. You’re so sweet. Or, I love spending time with you.” you’re conveying neediness.
Conversely, if your aim when complementing your date was unconditional, meaning that you’ve said it for the pleasure of saying it, you’re conveying non-neediness or confidence.
Now, your neediness won’t instantly become apparent to your partner or date, however weeks down the line, it will begin to stick out like a sore thumb. And if you don’t overcome it, you’ll be rejected. Or in the scope of relationships, you’ll be dumped.
Till now, we went through many definitions and examples of neediness. We talked about the tendencies it makes you do and how to spot your needy behavior. But one thing we haven’t done yet is explained how neediness plays out in the real world. So let’s do that now.
Below is a more in-depth and thorough (and somewhat extreme) example, or story, of how a needy person shows up and goes through life. Its purpose is to help you identify even more personal needy tendencies, which you will learn to overcome later.
Luke just sprang into his first relationship with Janice, who is a bombshell 10 in his eyes. She’s highly ambitious, intelligent, caring, and holds no toxic hang-ups, potential red-flags, or inclinations to cause drama in relationships. He adores her to the stars and back, and vice versa.
One afternoon, when they were cuddling on the couch, Janice got a call from her supervisor, who asked her if she would like to attend a two-week workshop aimed at improving her work performance. As an eager purpose-driven woman, she unhesitatingly accepted the supervisor’s offer.
At first, Luke was thrilled for her, they even celebrated together, but after a few days, he became concerned.
“What, you have to fly to another country,” he asked, bewildered?
“Yeah, isn’t that great? I get to experience a whole other culture, answers Janice, and then adds, “It’s going to be a blast, aren’t you happy?”
Luke hesitates for a moment, puts on a forced smile, and lies, “Yeah, totally!” Janice, already bouncing in glee, asks, “anyway, would you drive me to the airport when I go? The taxi’s here are damn expensive?” Luke agrees.
After a few days, a random thought cuts into Lukes’s head, “what if Janice forgets about me?” Confused about where the idea came from, he disregards it and tells himself it’s probably nothing. But somehow, similar thoughts began assembling in his mind.
At first, they softly uttered,
“What if Janice meets someone else?”
“How could she not take me with her?
“She’s so selfish.”
“Doesn’t she like me anymore?”
“I want her at home with me!”
At first, these thoughts were like a crowd of rustling fans, eagerly waiting for their favorite singer to show up on stage. Luke tried silencing them, but they prevailed and soon multiplied and grown louder and louder until they became so intense that they resembled a Metallica concert.
After Luke spent days engulfed in negativity and his obnoxious thoughts, the day finally came. The day when he needed to drive Janice to the airport. While on the road, she was excited and curious about the surprises her trip holds, while Luke was gaining new forehead wrinkles by the minute.
When they arrived, he stiffly helped her with the luggage, and they slowly made way to the entrance, where he gave her a rigid hug followed by an awkward farewell kiss.
When Janice arrived at her hotel the next day, she mediately called Luke to tell him how everything was fine and that she landed safely. But instead of hearing something nice from him, he mostly whined how he misses her. It felt like he needed to release all the icky stuck emotions that piled up in him.
The couple’s conversation was somewhat disheartening and ended with a quick “I have to go and get some sleep Luke, I have quite a long and harsh schedule tomorrow. “
Only 9 hours went by when Luke initiated yet another text conversation with his girlfriend. He sends a message saying: “Hey, what’s up, what are you doing?”
Janice saw the text but was at a meeting in her hotel’s lobby and couldn’t answer. So she said to herself: “I’m going to reply as fast as possible. Let’s just take care of this first.”
Unfortunately, the meeting was long and extensive, and Luke didn’t get his response for over 3 hours, so his needy tendencies got the best of him. He quickly “fired off” another text saying: “Hey, I got something for you, are you excited?”
Translation: Now, the only reason why I’m contacting you is to see if you still like me. And, after a few minutes, Luke sent her another text saying, “By the way, was everything alright with the plane food? You’re not having any issues on the toilet, right? LOL.”
Now it’s just getting desperate.
After the end of the meeting, when Janice came to her room, she takes out her phone, browses Facebook for a minute, then turns her attention to Luke’s texts. She swiftly begins typing a reply, however, before she could press “send,” the phone dies. She mutters and starts looking for the charger. The only thing is, there is no charger. She left it at home.
She angrily makes her way to the hotel’s reception and asks for a spare charger. Unfortunately, none of the employees have the same one as her. And buying one is not an option since it’s already nighttime, and the stores are closed.
Exhausted from the meeting and irritated by her forgetfulness, Janice walks back to her room, lays on her bed, promises to herself that she will buy a new charger first thing tomorrow morning, and then she falls asleep.
After a long night’s rest, she gets dressed and bolts to the market, where she buys a new charger. Then she makes her way back to the hotel room, where she begins charging her phone. Her face muscles and back lose tension, and soothing relief envelopes her as she turns it on, but when she unlocks it, she notices a barrage of texts that changed her whole outlook about her chosen man. They went something like this:
“… talk to me?”
“I just saw a movie which reminded me of you; we’re so watching it together when you get here!”
“Why aren’t you replying? Weren’t you supposed to arrive yesterday?”
“I can see you’re ignoring me. Facebook shows you had been active a few hours ago.”
“What’s the problem? Why aren’t you talking to me?”
“OK fine, maybe I overreacted, but you can at least have the courtesy of replying.”
Do these examples hit too close to home for you? Maybe they cause a little twinge in your gut, or they emotionally trigger you in some bizarre way?
Relax. Don’t blame yourself if you ever acted as Luke did. Surprisingly most people I know and helped got themselves in remarkably similar situations as our fictional character. Most cases are less extreme than those of Luke’s, but surprisingly, some can be even more absurd.
Ultimately, anyone can get swamped by neediness and begin doing dumb shit. Male or female, young or old, smart or stupid, in a relationship or out of it, we’re all vulnerable to the bitch called neediness.
HOW TO STOP BEING NEEDY
Overcoming neediness can be done in various ways. Down below are 6 of them you can try out. I recommend going through all of them and deciding which ones work for you and actually provide tangible results.
After you selected your top ways, I advise sticking to applying them as frequently as humanly possible. In other words, once you find the button that gives you the desired result, keep smashing the shit out of it.
1. Overcome your limiting worth-based beliefs
Have you ever wondered where your neediness comes from?
The answer is simple. The thing that makes all people around the globe manifest neediness throughout their being is the following belief system:
“I feel as if I’m unlovable, I don’t value myself and believe I don’t have much to offer, so it’s only a matter of time before anyone I love leaves, rejects, or discards me.”
These sets of beliefs can be conscious, somewhat conscious, or completely hidden from your awareness. But no matter the form, the solution to changing them is the same as with changing any other belief.
Luckily, I’ve written a full article on overcoming limiting beliefs, which you can read right here.
2. work on overcoming your codependency tendencies
To fend off your codependent tendencies, you should primarily focus on three things.
Firstly, you should work on giving up your miѕрlасеd ideas, оf love and ѕuрроrt. Give up the idea that you need others, be that your ex, future partner, or anyone else, to make уоu feel better, appreciated, and secure. It’s not their responsibility to keep you in a good mood.
Secondly, you learn how to motivate, validate, and fill yourself up emotionally (without other people’s help), so you don’t base your actions from a place of lack or need but a place of unattached giving.
And lastly, try to develop a healthy dose of narcissism. Meaning, learn to stop yourself when you notice you’re in the “people pleaser” mode and ask yourself, “Is this really what I want to do?” and then act accordingly.
3. Become aware of the intentions behind your actions
As we mentioned earlier, you a great way to learn how to stop being needy is by growing more aware of the intentions behind your actions and also stay brutally honest about them.
So, this means you stop yourself before you do something that you sense could be needy, then you ponder the aim behind whatever you wanted to do, and finally, you change your action if necessary.
For example, let’s say you’re on a stroll, and at some point, you stumble upon a crossroads. All of the paths lead to your home, but one of them takes you through the neighborhood where your ex lives.
Now let’s pretend you want to go down that path. As soon as you sense that inclination, it’s your job to stop yourself and explore what’s behind it.
People will most often purposefully put themselves in their ex-partners’ orbit with the hopes of “stumbling upon them,” and so having an excuse to start a conversation and so, rekindling things.
Therefore it’s your job to identify this lousy intention and correct your action, aka, chose a route that will lead you home, but not through your exes neighborhood.
4. Develop sturdier boundaries
The next method on how to stop being needy is heavily rooted in setting solid boundaries in your relationships. I’ve written a 7000+ word article on this topic that you can read right here. But if you’re in a hurry, here’s the gist.
Think of boundaries like a fence around your psyche. They dictate what behaviors you will accept and which ones you won’t. But here’s an amusing fact about them. You don’t need to erect them only for other people. You can also make some for yourself!
For example, if you sense you’re always worried about where your ex is and how they are making out with some other dude or chick right now, you can set a boundary in place to help you manage those thoughts.
It would go something like this: “It’s not important where I think my ex is, or what they are doing right now. They are not my responsibility anymore.”
This boundary helps you become more detached about the sexy adventures your ex might be going through, and so it enables you to take power back. It allows you to move on and focus on yourself instead of them.
Despite the controversy, setting self-boundaries and therefore limiting yourself in many life areas does not constrict your freedom but gives you more of it.
Take these examples into consideration:
- Deciding that you’re not going to chase after someone who doesn’t want you anymore or who wasn’t a good fit frees you from their rejections and opens up the doors to other, hopefully, more suitable partners.
- Committing to one person frees you from the uncertainty and chaos dating life brings and gives you a chance to form a more robust and deep emotional connection, instead of hundreds of weak or shallow ones.
- Only dating people who are genuinely interested in you and who you find fascinating liberates you from wasting time with all kinds of mediocre dates that would 99% of the time lead nowhere.
5. Find something so meaningful that overcoming your neediness begins to feel like an absolute must
For example, let’s assume that you want a long-lasting and healthy relationship in the future. The only way you’re going to actually get and keep one is if you learn to manage your anxiety and overcome the limiting beliefs from which your neediness and desperation sprout.
So, you let that significant wish for a great relationship act as the driver of your commitment and discipline to overcome neediness. It’s that simple.
So what can you find so important that overcoming neediness becomes the only possible solution for you?
6. Work on changing your attachment type
If you’re exhibiting many pleasing behaviors, cannot say “no” to other people, or have countless tendencies to chase after your ex or your dates, you could have an anxious attachment type.
If that’s the case, what can usually help soothe your neediness is tweaking your attachment type to a more secure variant. You can read exactly how to do this in my article on attachment types.
The goal is to go from the person who obsesses way too much about how others perceive or think about them to someone who will be more concerned about his opinions, wishes, and feelings and motivated primarily by his beliefs, desires, values, and goals.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to be selfish. Learn to make healthy compromises too.
Ultimately, there are no quick fixes when it comes to learning how to stop being needy. Don’t get me wrong, you can do it, but it takes months of grueling work to pull off.
I mean, think about it. It’s about changing how you feel about yourself, how you perceive yourself, and how much you take care of YOURSELF. Your whole self-perception, the worth-based beliefs, and perhaps even some of your core values have to change. No shit, that it’s hard work.
Also, here’s another cheerful fact. You’re never going to get rid of your neediness entirely. It will always be a part of you, in some form or another. The best we can all do is learn how to manage it and not let it run our lives. So stop reading, and get to work. Good luck.