As a woman, the worst thing you can be is needy.
Neediness is embarrassing. It’s a huge turn-off. Guys avoid needy women like the plague.
No woman should expect a man to “complete” her. She should be independent, self-sufficient, and perfectly happy without a man.
Only then does she have any hope of attracting an equally independent, self-sufficient man, with whom she’ll form a tasteful interdependent relationship. They won’t need each other; they’ll choose each other. There’s a big difference, you know.
So you’d better not be needy.
And if, deep in your heart, you really DO need a man to be happy, for goodness sake don’t let anyone know. Especially not him.
That’s all great advice, don’t you think?
But have you wondered why all this advice is directed to women … and only to women?
Neediness appears to be a female problem.
No one tells men not to be needy.
In fact, it’s wonderful when a man admits he needs a woman. He’s a romantic hero. A man comfortable enough with his own masculine strength to admit he has a woman-sized hole in his life? Swoon-worthy!
So why should we be ashamed of needing men?
Is it possible that the vitriol heaped on neediness is, in fact, a way of keeping women down, by shaming them for the natural feminine desire to connect through love?
Neediness is not inherently bad. If it were, then we would find babies—those tiny red squalling bundles of neediness—appalling.
Instead, they’re the most adorable beings to grace our planet. Babies need us, and we love them for it. Nothing feels better than to know this small, vulnerable being depends on you completely.
As adults, we are unbelievably needy as well. (We just pretend we aren’t.) We need other people in ways we can’t comprehend.
Do you eat every day? Then you’re needy.
You need a vast network of people just to get food to your plate. The farmer who grows your food, the laborer who picks it, the trucker who ships it, the office staff who orders it, the checkout person who sells it. They all have a purpose in life because people are needy.
Marketers create new needs in us all the time, and they’re not ashamed of it. They want us to become needier. Our needs drive the economy, create jobs, and spread wealth. We need each other more than we know.
That’s why I’m proud to admit that, yes, I am a #NeedyWoman. Having needs doesn’t make me less of a woman. It makes me human.
Some dating coaches will make a distinction between neediness and vulnerability.
They say it is good for a woman to be vulnerable in small doses, because love requires emotional risks. But vulnerability should never be confused with neediness. Needy women look to other people to get their needs met, while strong women meet their own needs.
I’m not so sure there’s a difference.
Part of vulnerability is accepting that you do have needs, and that it’s okay to lean on other people.
If a woman is not comfortable with her own needs—because she’s been taught that neediness is unattractive—she’s going to have a hard time letting a man in. Leaning on a man threatens her independence. She doesn’t dare need him. Because if she falls for him, it will ruin everything. He’ll leave her if he finds out how much she needs him in her life.
At least, that’s what she’s been taught.
If we’re going to believe that vulnerability is okay, then we’ve got to extend the same acceptance to neediness. We’re all #NeedyWomen.
Having needs isn’t anything to be ashamed about. Our needs remind us how deeply we’re interconnected with everyone else. We need each other to survive. We need love to thrive. And that’s a good thing.
Men miss being needed. There’s a sadness in feeling that their particular brand of masculinity is superfluous. Sure, women can do it all themselves, but isn’t partnership so much juicier? And how can men partner with us if we don’t need them?
The key is to drop the shame.
As long as there’s shame, neediness will bite you in the butt. You’ll have to hide it and use manipulative or controlling tactics to get what you need.
Without shame, needs are just opportunities to lean on each other. They’re open spaces that invite other people in. They’re challenges for the right kind of hero.
And maybe there’s a man out there right now who wants more than anything to be someone’s hero.
Do you need a hero?
I NEED to FEEL LOVED by my husband of 20+ years. I also NEED to have shared goals, emotional and physical intimacy, open lines of communication, trust and a feeling of connectedness with him. I understand that there’s a difference between shared dependence and dependence. My husband doesn’t feel as strongly as I do about the needs I listed above. He is likely to think our marriage is fine, even great, as long as we don’t argue too often, I don’t ask him too many “difficult” questions and he’s getting what he NEEDS from me in the bedroom! Oh, and that we take turns saying, “I love you” first!
Because my needs are more complex feelings (that often go unmet) and his needs are simpler, the basic components of most functional marriages: does that make me NEEDY? I’ve certainly been led to think so, via therapists, articles, books and sometimes my husband himself! I would argue that the things I NEED are basic things that make a GOOD marriage and the things that make that marriage LAST.
Amy Waterman says
I’d say you’re right! It’s not a balanced relationship when one partner can expect his needs to be met but doesn’t reciprocate. Claiming that women are “needy” is a way to dismiss their emotional needs. Imago therapy suggests that the real work of relationship comes in meeting each other’s needs, even if you don’t understand or agree with them. Through serving each other, you heal yourself.
But here’s an interesting twist: to what extent can you get some of those needs met outside the relationship? One valid criticism of modern relationships is that we expect our partners to fulfill ALL our needs, something that’s not humanly possible. We cannot expect our men to be our best girlfriends. We need a posse, a community, a support network to step in when our men simply can’t do what we need them to do.