Neediness is one of the most common problems preventing people from getting back together with their ex. Roughly speaking, I estimate 80% of my readers broke up with their ex and have difficulties getting them back solely because of their neediness. Chances are, you’re in the same shit-stained boat.
I define neediness as prioritizing your ex’s perception of you over your perception of yourself, and that this prioritization leads to all unattractive behavior, whether directly or indirectly.
Let’s take Needy Nelly, for example.
When talking with her ex, Needy Nelly will expend her effort in trying to piece together what her ex’s perception of her is and cater her behavior to what she thinks he wants.
If he thinks poorly of her, she will feel as if she has low self-worth. If he thinks highly of her, she’ll think she has high self-worth. Essentially, she’ll allow her ex’s perception of her to have complete control over her moods and self-worth.
She’ll also try to get her ex’s affection, approval, and validation to compensate for the lack of affection, approval, and validation she fosters for herself. Even her goal of getting back with her ex will be rooted not in love but her abiding fear that she alone is not enough.
Assuming your ex already reached out to you at some point and shown initial attraction, your level of neediness determines how much or how little your ex will be (re) attracted to you. The more needy behaviors you display, the lower their attraction becomes. The less needy behaviors you display, the higher their attraction becomes.
The Source Of Neediness
Neediness stems from a) undervaluing yourself, b) overvaluing your ex, or c) a combination of both.
The “undervaluing yourself” problem stems from low self-esteem and self-worth and is consciously realized by a series of negative beliefs about oneself and then manifested through needy, unattractive behavior.
The “overvaluing your ex” problem stems from some sort of complex or neurosis surrounding the opposite sex. These people can have high self-esteem and self-worth in many areas of their life (i.e., business, education, social life, etc.). However, when confronted by their ex, they instinctively subjugate themselves to their opinions and desires and become needy.
These two causes of neediness often appear simultaneously. However, they may also appear separately in certain cases.
The “overvaluing your ex” issue is usually the easier fix. It’s just a matter of re-orienting some of a person’s unhealthy over-estimations of their ex and getting them to respect themselves a little more in their presence.
It’s the “undervaluing yourself” issue that’s difficult to fix, mainly because low self-esteem and self-worth individuals are often piss-poor at accurately interpreting their own experiences and behaviors. Until they learn to do this, their progress occurs slowly — or there is no progress at all.
How Neediness Looks Like
Below are some of the most common ways neediness manifests itself. By discovering how neediness looks like, you’ll hopefully grow more aware of it when it starts seeping out your behaviors, and thus, increase your chances of managing it successfully — that is, before it sabotages your love life.
- You frequently try to impress your ex and get their admiration and approval.
- You frequently seek validation, attention, and affection from your ex.
- (Men) You start acting emotionless, domineering, or brash because you want your ex to view you as an “alpha male.”
- (Women) You start acting overly submissive and (too) agreeable because you want your ex to view you as a “proper woman.”
- You keep overanalyzing or are trying to figure out the hidden meaning behind your ex’s words and actions.
- You call or text your ex with the intention of figuring out whether they still like you or not.
- You keep taking your ex to the fanciest and best places in town.
- You’re treating your ex as a celebrity and frequently try to prove yourself to them.
- You keep checking your phone every few minutes or hours to see if your ex called or texted you back.
- You’ve made your ex your primary source of happiness, fulfillment, and life meaning.
- You keep stumbling over yourself by constantly buying your ex gifts.
- You keep analyzing your own neediness-level while you’re talking with your ex.
- You’re trying to change yourself for your ex or you keep trying to change your ex.
How To Spot Needy Behaviour In Yourself
Any behavior you display can be needy and non-needy. What determines whether it’s needy or not, and the degree to which it is needy, are your intentions behind the behavior.
You could tell your ex while you’re on a first date after your breakup how much they mean to you and propose you get back together out of sheer curiosity. Or you could sit there, act indifferent — like you don’t give a shit about them when you actually do — and have them propose the idea of getting back together.
The former behavior is non-needy. You’re speaking your truth. You intend to unabashedly express what you feel and accept any response your ex gives you.
The latter behavior, however, is needy. You’re acting like you don’t care whether or not your ex gets back with you, while in reality, you do care. So much, in fact, that you intend to manipulate them to get them back.
Now, before you start thinking, “can’t I just fake my intentions?” the answer is no — you can’t do it. It’s impossible, at least for the long term. Sure, it may work for some time, but eventually, neediness will always find a way to seep through your behaviors and sabotage your reconciliation efforts.
The Right Way To Go About Managing Neediness
First of all, let’s be clear. We’re all human. We all look for validation from our ex if we still like them. We all care what they think about us to a certain degree. Neediness never really goes away. And that’s fine.
Your goal should never be to eliminate neediness. Not only is that unrealistic, but it’s also impossible. The more you’ll try to get rid of your neediness, the more it will expand. Besides, eliminating it would also mean gutting yourself of all emotions and empathy. And that’s not a healthy way to live your life.
Instead, your goal should be to better manage your neediness — to re-prioritize your perception of yourself in relation to the perceptions of your ex. You want to focus on validating yourself more and less on receiving validation from them.
External validation will always exist and will always matter, but the more internal validation we create, the less the external validation will matter. So it’s a relative goal you’re looking for, not an absolute. And it will shift from interaction to interaction.
For instance, it’s healthy and normal to exhibit a higher need for validation and occasional neediness from your partner of 10 years. But it’s not healthy or normal to need a lot of validation or to display repeated neediness if that partner just dumped you.
How To Better Manage Your Neediness
The root cause of why you’re having neediness problems is because you feel bad about yourself, and are unable or unwilling to take care of yourself. Again, maybe that’s because of low self-esteem, self-worth issues, childhood trauma, or some toxic complex around the opposite gender.
Regardless, to overcome your neediness (and consequently get back with and keep your ex), you must start taking care of and investing in yourself — your health, finances, career, social life, personal values, well-being, spirituality, etc. This translates into your run-of-the-mill self-improvement.
Now, the topic of self-improvement is beyond the scope of this article. In fact, it’s a topic I’m wrestling with throughout the majority of articles on my website. So rather than regurgitating everything they say, here are links to some of the best ones.
- The Inferiority Gap: An article explaining how high self-worth makes a person attractive and how to build up yours so you become attractive.
- How To Get Your Ex Back The Right Way: Apart from the obvious, this article will give you a solid foundation of where to start investing in yourself to become a better person.
- Attachment Styles And How They Keep You Heartbroken: A theory explaining why your relationships fail and succeed and why you respond to your breakup the way you do.
- Your Ex Is Not Special (No One Is): A short riff on why you shouldn’t put your ex on a pedestal and treat them as a celebrity.
- Fuck Indifference (Re-attract Your Ex With This Instead). Inspired by my favorite book, this article argues that to get your ex back, you should start caring about something more important than getting back with your ex.
- Change Your Mind About Getting Your Ex Back: This article is a look at how getting an ex back might look like if you weren’t constantly worrying about what they thought of you — a.k.a. if you weren’t being needy all the time.
Your ex will never see your value as a person if you don’t value yourself first. And throwing yourself into self-improvement is the only thing that will demonstrate that value to them. However, coming back to intentions, there is a fine line between improving yourself for the right and wrong ones.
If you’re trying to improve yourself because you genuinely want to — you’re doing it solely for the sake of personal self-improvement — then your attempts at doing so are non-needy and attractive.
But, if you’re trying to improve yourself for your ex, or anyone other than yourself, then your attempts at doing so are needy and unattractive.
Think of it in terms of the classic Wayne Dyer quote: “Loving others starts with loving myself. If you don’t love yourself, nobody else will. Not only that – you won’t be good at loving anyone else. Loving starts with the self.” (1)
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