Our reader response to last week’s Ask a Guy feature was really great, so I decided to drill down deeper into one of the areas I discussed, namely neediness.
When I write dating tips and relationship advice for a new mode, I am writing to a female audience. But neediness is not gender-specific – guys make the mistake of being “needy” too! So I want you to know that I am putting this out there to help and inspire everyone to have more dating success, not to point fingers.
I can tell you from a guy’s perspective that when a woman says things like: “Why didn’t you call?” “Why don’t you have time for me?” “Why don’t you ever compliment me?” and pretty much any sentence that begins with ‘why didn’t you,’ it’s like nails on a chalkboard. Those kinds of statements will immediately put a guy on the defensive rather than motivating him to change and he’ll probably withdraw emotionally as a result… at least, for the moment.
I would say the core reason of this is that it attacks a guy’s sense of freedom and feeling of acknowledgment. What do I mean here? Well, when a woman starts down this chain of “Why didn’t you…” it feels to a guy as if she isn’t noticing all of the other things he is doing for a relationship.
I can’t go into as much depth as I’d like to in this post, but men and women have different senses of how they’d like to be noticed for things (and what they’d like to be noticed for.) At the root of it, when a man feels like he can’t make a woman happy, he will not want to be in a relationship with her (or if he stays, he will not want to deepen it). On the other hand, when a woman acknowledges him for all the things he’s doing well, he will almost certainly want to deepen the relationship and stay in it. I discuss this in-depth in the link below.
Back to neediness: When a woman starts acting needy, especially in the beginning of a relationship, it shows up as the ultimate red flag. It’s not even a logical decision. Neediness is synonymous with ’emotional dependency’, as in: “This woman is dependent on the guy in order for her to feel good.”
Now, sometimes when I start explaining this, I’ll get a comment saying, “Oh so what? We’re supposed to be emotional robots with no feelings or desires and just accept anything a guy is doing without complaint?”
Jeez… calm down… no, that’s not what I’m saying at all.
It’s perfectly normal and healthy to want a relationship with all the good qualities: connection, chemistry, understanding, intimacy, attentiveness and on and on.
You can have it all, too, but what I’m trying to explain in this article is that you don’t get it from wanting it. You create a relationship with those qualities by inspiring those things within the relationship.
The problem with neediness is that instead of inspiring all of those positive relationship qualities, the “needy person” acts as if their partner is denying them those good relationship qualities… like they’re entitled to them and their partner is cruelly withholding it.
Put simply, a needy person doesn’t feel good inside and then saddles the other person with the responsibility to make them feel better…
(FYI, we have a whole chapter on this in our new book “He’s Not That Complicated: How to Crack a Man’s Romantic Code to Get the Relationship You Want“)
Even the kindest, most well-meaning, most empathetic guy won’t be able to satisfy a woman who acts needy the majority of the time.
But hey, it’s the same the other way around. I would be pretty surprised if you never had a needy guy around you. Could you imagine what you would want to do if that needy guy was texting you right now?… and you didn’t want to be mean… but… whoops, “my battery died, sorry I didn’t call you back last night.” Nobody’s perfect.
When you boil it all down, neediness is not some set of behaviors. Neediness is a mindset.
When a person takes on the belief that another person is responsible for their happiness, their sense of well-being and their sense of self-esteem, then it’s guaranteed that they’re going to act needy as a result of that mindset.
Making someone else responsible for your emotions is a key ingredient in creating a toxic relationship type dynamic, so it’s very important to guard against doing that (as well as recognize when others are doing that towards you).
The best way to not be needy is to