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 make sure you have plenty to keep you busy and make a solemn vow to yourself that YOU are ultimately responsible for your happiness, your sense of well-being and your self-esteem.
It’s easy to become wrapped up in a new relationship, but it is extremely important to maintain your own life. When a woman is independent and has a lot going on she becomes more appealing to the guy because her time is more scarce and therefore if he wants to see her, he needs to put in effort to make plans with her.
As I’ve said in other places, when someone puts effort into a relationship, the person putting in the effort becomes more invested in the relationship (not the other person).
I think a lot of conventional relationship advice says that always being available is a bad thing and will make your value plummet – I actually don’t think availability is really the problem. I think the problem is that if you’re always available, it probably means that you’re not doing anything interesting or fulfilling in your life to make you feel good, so your relationship is the only thing filling you. And with all your eggs in one basket, it’s no wonder that you’d become extremely needy and dependent on the guy entertaining you – he’s all you have!
As a result, all of that pressure and dependency ends up crushing and smothering out the life from that relationship! This is why it’s very important to get fulfillment, entertainment and love from many different areas of your life, not just from one lone man.
Also, having a full and fulfilling life makes it much easier for you to extend only as much effort towards the relationship as he’s extending. Generally speaking, this is a good strategy.
To take that a step further, whenever you put effort into a relationship with someone, you are investing in them. Whenever they put effort in, they are investing in you. If you are waiting by the phone for him to call and to make time for you, then you’re probably the only one doing the investing.
Hope that helps!