The trap of neediness is something that most people often try to avoid. Think of those scenes from the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” If you haven’t seen it, you may have already guessed by the tittle itself that the majority of the how-to’s involve Kate Hudson being overly needy. We fear that asking for what we need may end up pushing someone away or seem like “too much” for our partner. But the truth is, we all have needs in relationships. The key to success here is being able to own, and clearly express your needs.
The battle between needs and neediness stems from the myth of independence and success in our society these days. In a world filled with messages to strive for more, to be more, to do more, the blinders can go on and get us lost on that path. But as we’ve discussed in the past, all signs end up pointing back to relationships and the vulnerability of emotionally depending on others.
Sue Johnson’s research shows us that human beings are hardwired to desire closeness and intimacy. When we learn to honor this truth, we allow ourselves to step into healthy relationships where our needs can fully be met. The catch? We have to be able to express those needs!
If you follow these 3 tips, you’ll more easily be able to do so, and in return show up for your partner when they share their needs (without seeming needy!)
1. Be Consistent and Reliable.
These words may be familiar if you’ve read my previous piece on Trust. To build, maintain and keep trust in a relationship, we need to experience consistency and reliability. Without trust, relationships of all kinds deteriorate.
Be consistent and reliable yourself, but also don’t hesitate to express the importance of these things to your partner. The challenge in this is asking for these things without adding the weight of criticism. Think about it this way: would you listen better if you were being told what you’re doing wrong, or what you’re doing that you could do more of?
2. Accessibility and Responsiveness
Feeling heard and seen. When our partners are emotionally accessible and responsive, we experience being understood and connected. If this connection is lacking, we start to wonder if we matter or are important. This can often lead to comments like, “You just don’t care” or “Why don’t you make me feel special anymore?”
Avoid these needy passive bids for affection, and practice being calm and clear. Approach your partner from those deeper emotions and try writing down what you really need. Are you really angry, or are you hurt because you’re lonely? Then tell your partner directly that you need some time together.
3. Be Present and Engaged
In our technology-filled, sensory-overload world, we are more easily distracted and less present to the humans living in the world around us. It’s essential to give and appropriate to need your partner’s mindful attention. Dismissing this need will lead to less connection. Sit down with your partner and express your desire to be more present with each other (And repeat that sentence back to yourself. See how I didn’t say, tell your partner they’re not being present with you?!) Also, be aware of giving back what you’re asking for: If you want your partner to put down their phone to engage with you, but you’re still glued to yours, it won’t work.
First, practice being reliable, accessible and present yourself. Then, move toward requesting the same from your partner. Following these tips have the potential to bring you closer to having your needs met. So, what’s getting in the way of you expressing your needs? Not sure? We can help with that.