My Neediness Is As Big As The Grand Canyon

Just before my 40th birthday, my ex-girlfriend Holly, who was throwing me a party, said to me on the phone about her shopping for my gift, “What do you get the guy who has nothing?”

She had looked into the abyss of my neediness and knew it wasn’t a pretty site. She’d felt my fear of abandonment. She had tired of propping me up.

My second girlfriend (1993), Diana, would take a bus up from San Jose to see me on weekends and she said she always left my place exhausted because I was just so needy. She eventually gave me the book, “The Givers and the Takers.”

I love FamilyTreeCounseling.com. Here are some highlights from their podcast on neediness:

There is a healthy level of neediness or we wouldn’t be in relationships. If we didn’t have the need to be needed, the race would die out, but there can be too much neediness. I had a client who said that him meeting his wife’s neediness was like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with a garden hose. It feels like a never-ending pit that our spouse cannot fill.

We want our spouse to fill our void but they can’t. Only we can fill our void. It’s not our spouse’s responsibility to fill our void. Religion won’t heal our emotional wounds. It can only cover them up and distract us.

Neediness means too high expectations of people.

Ask yourself, why am I so needy that I can’t find a life outside of this relationship?

The needier you are, the more you are likely to have self-worth issues and fear of abandonment.

If you feel like people are avoiding you, your partner is avoiding you, you likely have unhealthy neediness. Because you’re neediness is likely too much for your partner and they need space.

The needy person ends up pushing their spouse away when they’re trying to bring him closer.

It’s a healthy thing to be able to see yourself outside of your relationship. If you can’t say that you would be OK without this, then you’ll do anything to stay in it and you are really needy because you depend on the relationship.

Think about your friendships. If you don’t have close friendships, if people tend to not call you back or if you seek people out rather than it being 50/50, chances are you have some unhealthy neediness you need to address.

If you have a needy partner, what are you getting out of it? Are you getting your own self-needs met by being needed too much? Why did you marry such a needy person? It’s not random. You chose this. Do you need this approval? Do you have so much shame that you are constantly needing to be needed? Do you need to be up on a pedestal? You should feel like you’re on the same plane as your spouse.

The needy person is the minus in the relationship and the caretaker is the plus and that imbalance is going to destroy. If your needy spouse is reactive and angry, what’s the root cause? Neediness/abandonment. It’s a dance that people do, they need the drama and reactivity. Negative attention is better than no attention for some needy people.

If your partner is excessively needy, the problem isn’t all with her. You sought this out to feel better about yourself.

DR. CRAIG MALKIN WRITES: At the heart of attachment theory is the assumption that we all — all of us — have a basic, primal drive to connect. It’s wired into us, after millions of years of evolution, because on our own, we humans are weak, relatively defenseless creatures. That’s why emotional isolation registers in one of the most primitive areas of our brain — the amygdala — as a life-and-death situation (scientists call this the “primal panic”). The anxiously attached lack any faith that emotional closeness will endure because they were often abandoned or neglected as children, and now, as adults, they frantically attempt to silence the “primal panic” in their brain by doing anything it takes to keep connection. In short, they become needy. (The avoidantly attached shut their dependency needs and feelings off altogether to escape the pain of having their longings ignored or rejected.)

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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