When You’re ‘Too Needy’ in Relationships: How to Get Your Power Back

by Dr. Seth Meyers - March 7, 2017

Has anyone ever told you that you’re too needy in relationships? Have you ever felt like you’re too needy? Self-disclosure alert: This is a problem I used to have, so I know it well. In the past, I had relationships where I felt like I was always dependent and needy. Thankfully, I got therapy early in my adult life –starting at age 24 – so that I could correct the emotional problems I was dealing with. But if you feel needy and you’re already in your 30s or 40s, or even older, it is never too late to set out on a course of change. Neediness is something that you can change, though it will take time and effort. Are you willing to do the work? To begin, let’s start with some questions and then we’ll move to what you can do to make your life different.

Do you worry how much the person you’re dating likes you?

Most people don’t overthink this issue. Their thinking goes like this: I don’t need to worry if they like me because they wouldn’t still be with me if they didn’t. Needy people fret and worry, and they are always expecting to be abandoned or shut out.

Do you want to spend almost all of your free time with the person you’re dating?

It’s not normal or healthy to spend all of your free time with the same person. Everyone has different emotional needs, and we all have different kinds of people in our lives to suit the various parts of our personalities. Most people understand that they can’t be the only person to make their date happy, while needy people try to be The Only Person Who Matters.

Do you feel insecure when the person you’re dating wants to go out with other friends and doesn’t include you?

If you want to be savvy and protect the longevity of your relationship, never, ever make the person you’re dating feel claustrophobic. When the person you’re dating tells you they made plans to go out with their friends, support them and accept it. Needy men and women feel threatened and insecure in these situations, and the person they’re dating feels frustrated and overwhelmed when they sense this neediness.

Do you try to lock down the relationship status as soon as possible and make the relationship monogamous in the first few weeks?

Most people take relationships a little slowly in the beginning, and this is a healthy and cautious approach. Needy men and women, on the other hand, live in fear that the person they’re dating will walk away, so they put pressure on the other person to make the relationship official as soon as humanly possible. Their thinking suggests that making it monogamous quickly will make the relationship last, but that doesn’t work, so don’t try it!

Do you try too hard to forecast the future and figure out whether the relationship will last or end?

It’s normal to think about the future and wonder what the future of the relationship will be. Will the two of you stay together or will it end after a few months? Most people wonder about these things from time to time, but needy men and women can fixate on these questions. They get so caught up in anticipating the future that they don’t enjoy the relationship or feel peace of mind from day to day.

How to create a plan to change if you are too needy…

As I mentioned earlier, being too needy was a problem I used to have. In my teenage and young adult years, I had parts of my self-esteem that were low. For me, therapy changed my life. But therapy isn’t the only way to become less needy. If you’re needy, it means that you don’t feel like you are interesting or appealing enough to attract good partners. It also means that you aren’t keeping busy and stimulated enough. Aside from therapy, stimulate your brain and focus your mental energy on self-improvement projects. Get a couple of self-help books on how to raise your self-esteem and build confidence; start a new hobby or two to keep yourself interested in the world around you; do more activities alone (movies, go out to eat) to remind yourself that you don’t need to wait on anyone else to make you happy; and add a few things to the calendar to give you something to look forward to (visit a special restaurant, plan a weekend trip).

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The bottom line:

The more you like your life overall, the less needy you will feel. People feel needy because they feel like they are not interesting or happy enough on their own, and they need someone else to come make them happy. This is a terribly dependent position to put yourself in, so catch yourself when you’re doing it and try some of the self-improvement activities I mentioned above. By setting out on a course to change, you will be focused on developing yourself and maturing, not on waiting for someone else to fill those nagging emotional voids.

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