Relationships are about connection, closeness and companionship. Wanting to share our time, space and life with someone we love is a healthy and beautiful expression of love.
But when our need for connection, closeness and companionship makes the person we love feel uncomfortable, pressured or suffocated, we are no longer expressing love, we are needy.
Nobody wants to be needy, unfortunately, you can’t say to yourself, “I am going to stop being needy” and just like that, you are not needy anymore. Even where one succeeds in controlling needy behaviour in the short term, very often the behaviour comes back again, and again.
The big question is how then does one effectively get of rid neediness on a permanent basis?
1. Work with a therapist
Working with a therapist to disable the triggers that make you needy (e.g. fear of rejection and/or abandonment) is one way to get rid of neediness.
The processes that trigger needy behaviour are driven by our subconscious. These triggers are different for each person. The most common trigger we know of is the fear of rejection or abandonment. But sometimes the trigger may not be the fear that we will be abandoned, but instead the fear that the person you love doesn’t love us back as much. Other times the trigger may be a memory from childhood in which we felt unappreciated, were treated as second-best or were passed over for someone smarter, more athletic or better ‘looking’. We become needy and clingy because we feel that what happened to us may happen again or is happening again.
Working with a good therapist will uncover many of your hidden triggers. Hopefully a good therapist can also help you disable your triggers and learn better habits.
The problem with therapy is that it takes a while before one can see the benefits of therapy. If you are trying to get back your ex, you realistically don’t have that kind of time.
2. Do it yourself
It’s cheaper and you have more control of your own self-work. But like many DIY projects, if you don’t know what you are doing, you are bound to make so many mistakes or even make things worse.
For example, it’s easy to fall into the trap of simply reading a book or listening to a podcast about fear of abandonment and thinking that because you know enough about the subject you have changed.
While knowledge is a necessary first step to changing behaviour, it is not enough.
We all know at least one person who knows what to do to lose weight but never loses the weight, an addict who knows all about addiction but can’t kick the habit, a friend or relative who keeps saying they will change but the change never happens, or an ex who has a list of behaviours they say they want to change but never do anything to change. It’s no wonder that many people think people don’t change.
Just knowing that you should not send too many texts is not going to get rid of neediness. Under extreme stress or anxiety, the old behaviours will re-emerge because these are the behaviours you know. Same as learning to communicate better. You can’t say, “I want to communicate better” and think that’s going to make you a better communicator. It’s like someone who wants to win the lottery but doesn’t buy any tickets.
Also, if you don’t know what you are doing, you may focus on one single behaviour and miss other equally unhealthy behaviours and triggers.
I have worked with men and women who are convinced that the reason their ex thinks they are needy is because they sent their ex too many texts or acted needy when their ex cancelled a date. They think it’s that one incident and can’t understand why even after they apologized, and things seemed to have been resolved their ex still says they are needy.
When I point out some of their behaviours that were just as needy or needier than that one single incident, they are devastated that they didn’t see their needy behaviours in time to stop them.
I have also worked with men and woman who say they had a secure and happy childhood and don’t understand how they are called needy when they have no abandonment issues. Like many, they think that fear of abandonment or rejection is the only trigger of needy behaviour.
Neediness can be triggered by many internal processes that are interconnected. Maybe you have been dumped so many times that even if you were not abandoned as a child, you try too hard to hold on to a relationship and end up acting needy and clingy. You want to be in a relationship but because you have internalized past rejections you act in ways that are opposite to what you want or need.
Maybe you are a control freak who pushes too hard to have things your way and end up suffocating partners. Maybe you are a people-pleaser who instead of asking for what you want smother the people you love with the attention and affection you want for yourself. Maybe you don’t know how to take “no” or “wait” for an answer and keep sending your ex texts hoping that you will upset then enough to respond.
You cannot help yourself because this is what you have always done and how you have always acted when your needs are not met.
Something Must Change
Effective behaviour change requires more than awareness of the behaviour, and more than the desire to change.
If you want to change a behaviour, you must have other go-to behaviours. You must learn news skills, have new tools and new healthier ways of loving and being loved.
If you are thinking, “It takes time to change. My ex will move on”. That’s true, but your ex will also move on if you don’t stop being needy.
Work With Me
I work with you to do more than you might on your own. My goal and measure of success is a specific behavioral outcome.
Childhood origins of a needy behaviour isn’t necessarily my focus, but if it helps guide the work we’re doing to change a specific behaviour, we’ll go there (only to the extent you are comfortable with).
I sign-up 20 clients a month and coaching is limited to 8 weeks.
We speak on the phone for 1 hour once a week. Each week, I send you a podcast on what we will be working on the following week. From time to time I will give you a field assignment to reinforce the new tools, skills and behaviour.
How to Sign-Up
Sorry. Due to clients illegally posting course podcasts online, we have suspended this course until we can figure out a better way to deliver it.
In the meantime… try not to be that needy ex!