by Catherine Pratt
Being too needy, is this something you feel you may have an issue with? Recently, I was asked the following question about being too needy. I thought I'd share her question and my response as I'm sure there are many people who feel the same way.
I have a question. My boyfriend, during some arguments, has told me that I am emotionally needy and dependent upon him beyond what he considers healthy. He says I am driving him crazy by being so sensitive, and that he feels like he can't just be himself and let things flow in the relationship. This devastates me. But I think he may be right. I don't want to be needy or to feel so dependent. I think I used to be stronger. He says it's always been this way with me and he doesn't think it will ever change. But I want it to change and I want to feel better about myself.
Can you recommend a place for me to begin this work? I'm overwhelmed with how far the journey back to my stronger self may be.
I think it will start with looking deep inside yourself and trying to figure out why you feel this way. By the way, awareness is usually the hardest step. Once you’re aware of the problem then at least you can do something about it. So, the good news is that you’re well on your way.
You need to figure out why you’re feeling this way. What is the underlying reason? For example, is it because:
• You’ve lost who “you are”? What I mean by this is that
sometimes when we’re in a relationship we start focusing so much on the
other person, we forget what we were like when we were single. So, you
suddenly find that you no longer know what you like to do and what you
want from life. You don’t know who “you” are because you’ve given up a
part of yourself for the relationship.
• Are you afraid of abandonment or that he’s going to leave you?
• Is there a past relationship or event that is causing you
baggage in this current relationship (previous boyfriends, family,
• Does your boyfriend make comments or do things that chip away at your self esteem?
• Do you really want to get married and he doesn’t?
Try to figure out where the feelings are coming from. Once you know what the underlying issue is then it makes it easier to look for a starting place to work on it.
For example, if you found that you have lost who you are then you could start with figuring out what it is you want to achieve in your life. What places do you want to travel to, what skills do you want to learn, things like that. This would be things that you want for yourself. Not things you hope that the two of you together will achieve.
You’d ask yourself what do you like to do and then start doing them on your own. So, if you liked gardening for example, you could join a horticultural club or take gardening classes or even start reading books on that again. You could spend time doing what you love which would build up your skills and confidence not only in the area that you have a lot of passion for but also yourself. You’d be focusing on yourself sometimes as well which is important. In a relationship, it’s really important to know what makes you happy and to be “complete” whether the other person is there or not. I think it's also really beneficial to have some of your own interests.
I wouldn’t worry about it being a long journey. A lot of the times as soon as you figure out what the underlying issue is, then it’s fairly quick to work through it.
You need to know “why” first before you can start looking for a solution. If it’s a self esteem issue then it’s going to have a different solution than if it’s really a conflict between what you both think a relationship means.
Also, figure out "how" it happens. What I mean is that you need to pay attention to when it happens. What kind of things trigger the feelings in you? Then, what do you do in response? Watch yourself like you're a witness to the event. By paying attention to the "how" it happens will be valuable for you.
If you discover that it happens whenever he says he's going to go out with his friends, you can use one of Byron Katie's techniques and ask yourself if it's true what your feeling. Here's an example. He says he's going out and you feel that this means that he doesn't love you. Ask yourself, "is it true that because he's going out with his friends that he doesn't love me?" Most likely you'll realize that it doesn't mean that at all. That's just a belief you've added to the event. Work through the emotions.
You'll also learn by doing this whether it's a belief you have about yourself as well. You might be feeling that if you stay home by yourself it means that no one loves you. You could easily change this belief by writing down the old belief and then a new one. Then every time you catch yourself thinking the old belief, say your new one ("I love having the place to myself for a little while so I can do some things I love to do"). It's just a matter of re-programming your thoughts.
Anyway, there's some ideas to start you off. I hope they help.
It may take a little while before you truly do know why you feel this way. The first thoughts you come up with may not even be the real answer. Just start exploring and don't be afraid of the emotions it may bring up. Think of it as a good thing because you'll be understanding yourself better and becoming a much stronger person. Keep digging until you have that "aha" moment when you truly know the answer.
Byron Katie's book, "I Need Your Love - Is that True?" is an excellent book to read on this issue. She's able to get you to work through the real issues behind your feelings just by asking yourself 4 questions. It's a valuable tool to use.