Many of us do not know that we are needy and clingy, let alone can accept that we are. If anyone even remotely suggests that we are needy or clingy, we get defensive about it. But if your desire to get closer to someone only makes the other person want distance or if you require constant validation and reassurance from a relationship partner, chances are you are needy. You may not be needy all the time and to all people, but needy and clingy with that particular person.
And if you score high on attachment anxiety (anxious preoccupied or fearful avoidant), you may worry about being underappreciated or abandoned and act in ways that are seen as needy and even clingy.
However, there are times when one is called needy but a closer look at the relationship reveals that the problems in the relationship have little to do with one being needy, and everything to do with being with an inconsiderate and insensitive boyfriend/girlfriend, partner or spouse.
This will sound very familiar to some of you. You have plans to go hang out later in the evening, your boyfriend/girlfriend, partner or spouse says they will meet you, come over or pick you up at 8 p.m. You get ready and all pumped up, but 8 p.m. comes and they are no show. At 8.15 p.m., you give them a call, they don’t answer. So you send them a text and still no word from them. At 9.45 pm, they finally respond to your text saying, “My boss called, and I had to go to the office” or “My friends X and Y dropped by, and we went out”.
Now you are really ticked off. You send them a text back saying, they should have at least called or sent you a text to let you know that plans had changed. Their response, “Why are you upset?”. You text back and forth for a while, you mostly trying to get them to acknowledge that their actions were insensitive, and you have the right to be upset, and then BOOM! They say they need space because they feel suffocated (translated: you are needy)
Really? They changed plans and didn’t think to let you know and somehow you are needy for asking for some sensitivity?
Genuine reactions to inconsiderate and insensitive actions and/or habits should not be dismissed as irrational, needy or clingy.
1. You’re not needy or over-reacting when you ask that someone respect you enough to tell you when a change in their plans affects you. You’re needy when you expect them not to have any change of plans or not have a life of their own where you are not involved.
2. You’re not needy if you tell someone you love them or how you feel about them. You’re needy if you keep telling them over and over how much you love and care about them with the hope that they’ll return the gesture.
3. You’re not needy when you send a text or call to let the other person know that you are thinking of them, or ask how their day has been. You’re needy if you send a text or call someone just to reassure yourself that they are thinking of you, want to be with you, or care about you.
4. You’re not needy or suffocating when you point out that someone spends more time with their friends than do with you, their partner. You’re needy and suffocating when want them to spend time with them all the time and get upset when they need time to themselves or jealous when they spend time with friends and family and you are not invited.
5. You’re not needy when you get upset that someone dismisses your feelings or shoves your need for healthy communication back into your face. You’re needy when you try to force emotional closeness when someone isn’t ready or doesn’t want it.
There are so many other examples of when you may not be needy but reacting to a partner’s insensitivity to your emotional needs. But when you have attachment anxiety which often leads to being needy, you may have a hard time differentiating when you are being needy and when you are reacting to the fact that the relationship does not meet your emotional and relationship needs.
Next time you are accused of being too sensitive or think that you are being needy and clingy, ask yourself: Am I really being needy or am I just being sensitive to the fact that my needs are not being met?
Maybe you are being needy, or maybe the other person is being insensitive and/or disrespectful. There is a difference.