Needy and clingy?

Ever find yourself hanging on to certain people and just desperately needing their attention? In most cases, we become clingy and needy with people who tend to keep us at a distance or avoid us. How can you test this theory? Well, think about it. Think about someone from your past or present (a friend, an ex, a family member) who showed you lots of love and never let you down and was always there for you. How was your behavior then? Probably not clingy. Probably calm. Peaceful. Fulfilled.

The world works in yin and yang. It works to balance out loss or gain, closeness and distance. The more a loved one runs away from us, the more needy we suddenly become. The more we want their presence in our lives the more absent they seem to be. And vice versa. The more needy someone becomes of us, the more demanding of our time, the more we tend to want to avoid them.

I have a hard time believing that neediness comes from loneliness or desperation. That seems too easy of an answer. The truth is, neediness and clinginess is a Red Alert that the person or people you feel most needy with are the ones who are pushing you away. Who are avoiding you. Whether they are pushing you away because they don’t feel the same about you, or simply because they, within their nature, just can’t meet your needs  doesn’t seem to matter. What matters is that when you find yourself becoming too needy, clingy or obsessive over someone, there’s something wrong with your connection to that person. It’s off balance. This could be a clue to something simple: perhaps your hubby has been working late at night and you miss him. Or it can be something more serious: your partner is out every night and you’ve caught him in a few lies. Your neediness, then, could be an instinct that is warning you, something is not right.

Whatever the case, let your own behavior guide you. If you find yourself acting needy, this could be a good indication that your partner is moving away from you, or you sense he or she is moving away from you. Or–yikes– that you are in an unhealthy relationship to begin with and the very nature of your dynamic is not working the way it should be.

So? How do you fix your neediness? For starters, try to understand how it applies to you and where it might be coming from. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I needy and clingy with everyone, just certain people, or just one person?
  2. Am I always needy and clingy or is my neediness situational, temporary, and if so, what might the situation be?
  3. Is my neediness easily resolved through communication with my loved one? Or do I always feel frustrated, as though my needs are not being met? 
  4. Is my neediness reasonable (I need you to tell me you love me every once in awhile) or is my neediness excessive (I need you with me 27/7)?
  5. Could your neediness be based on trust issues? (We often become more needy and clingy when we sense dishonesty)
  6. Could your neediness be based on a sense of losing your partner? (We often become more needy and obsessed over people who do not yet or no longer belong to us)

Second, surround yourself with people who give you a good amount of attention, love and kindness. This helps you to better understand yourself and how you relate and interact with healthy, loving people in your life. It also helps to build confidence knowing that you are loved and appreciated. Finally, the people closest to you give you a model of healthy love. They show you what reciprocity in a couple should look like.  When you seek out a partner, you’ll know what to look for–someone who is available, kind, loving and present. Maybe not 24/7, but enough that you feel fulfilled.

Third, make sure you always enrich your life with people, places and things other than your relationship. You’ve heard it all before. Your partner can’t and shouldn’t be expected to fulfill all your needs. So, while a hobby may not cut it, or depending on the homegirls all the time, try to find deeper more fulfilling experiences. You might need to search for what makes you passionate (hint: search for ideas, beliefs, career paths, not people, etc.). My all time favorite advice was “work with your hands.” When you do that your brain becomes focused on something other than meandering thoughts. It becomes focused on the task (at hand).

Fourth, if you think your neediness goes way beyond what’s normal and healthy, you are very possibly trying to “fill the void” with other people. In that case: practice the art of “enoughness.” The next time you are with someone and they go to leave, let them. Practice being OK with their absence by saying, “I enjoyed what they had to offer, but now it’s time for me.” No matter how much it pains you, try to move on. Don’t try to push or force someone to stay or give you what you want when they clearly don’t want to give it at that moment. When they leave and you are once again alone, allow yourself to feel that emptiness and aloneness. Don’t rush to call someone. Don’t rush to find someone else to be with it. Sit with your aloneness. If it feels awkward, uncomfortable or scary, pay attention. Write it down. And then try to come up with ways to cope and pacify yourself that are healthy and do not require reaching out to the person you feel you need. And remember, don’t equate that feeling of loneliness with a VOID. It’s not a void. It is simply you growing and learning what “enough” means. Like hunger pangs to someone on diet…you are merely attempting to shrink your stomach and readapt to a smaller portion of whatever it is you think you NEED. Here’s more on “filling the void

Lastly, communicate your neediness to the person with whom you feel needy and clingy. Is he or she willing to work with you on this? Can you negotiate time spent together so you both feel comfortable? Healthy relationships are not without problems. But, when problems do arise, both parties try to work in equal parts to resolve those problems, in order to come up with solutions. Your neediness is not just some annoying behavior trait come out of the ether of your being. It’s there for a reason. Try to figure it out.

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