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serenityNOW's avatar

I'm a needy person. How can I stop?

Asked by serenityNOW (3293 points ) December 9th, 2013

As much as I hate this, I’ve finally come to grasps with the fact that I am so goddamn needy. I always seem to need people’s affection: immediately. This affects both platonic and romantic situations, as well as work. With platonic, it’s slightly better because I’ve known most of my friends for a large chunk of my life, but I still get miffed by phone-calls not returned, texts not replied to, etc. Then, when it comes to men, I have zero tolerance for ducking phone calls, missing texts, etc.

I wouldn’t post about this if I didn’t think that its been tainting my days – it’s literally screwing with my daily life. I can’t afford a therapist right now, which I know is a mature avenue to go down, so on that issue I’m stuck. That leads to the word “mature.” I feel like a little lost boy. I am going for my 3 month visit to my psychiatrist tonight, but I feel this is more emotional and not treatable by medication. I hate being this way… it’s impacting my life. Does anyone have any tactics to fight this awful feeling?

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18 Answers

Lorna's avatar

We are who we are. I think the only thing we can change, is to possibly try and control the need. It won’t go away, because that is who you are. Just try and live with it better.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Take notice of tasks you accomplish without help and reward yourself for these.

Unbroken's avatar

Why are you needy? Ask yourself that, and what it means to you to have your needs met.

Then take your behavoirs you pointed out, acknowledge them and your emotions as they happen but don’t dwell or obsess just let it go.

I mean I forget to answer texts and phone calls all the time, though I love and appreciate people who do take the time, its just my sched is wonky and I could be busy, by the time I get around to it it may be too late or early or dinner time for the other person etc. People need some slack on occasion.

Most of all find fulfillment and self confidence in yourself and activities you enjoy. As Dr Lawrence said. If you feel like a bad familial relationship started this trend ask yourself if this is still the case and if so what steps can you take to bridge the gap. It doesn’t matter if things don’t turn out rosily just so that you are taking mature steps and are open to change when or if they ever are.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Work on yourself. Read up on it, get a book, etc…

I was super jealous as a teen with guys, then in my early 20’s I saw how destructive it was for my relationships and I just stopped. Not inside, but outwardly, I zipped it when the green-eyed monster wanted to rage.

You are the only one who can change yourself, and realizing you have a problem is the first step, good job. :)

marinelife's avatar

You need to love yourself more so that you are not having others meet all your needs. Get books on self-love and stopping negative self-talk, Self Parenting is a good one.

Juels's avatar

Find things to fill your time. If you’re busy with your own activities, then you will have less time to dwell on the negative. You may even be able to find free support group for your issues. It helps to talk with someone that understands what you’re going through. You can even ask your doctor for some support group suggestions.

zenvelo's avatar

The best way to fight this issue? Go do volunteer work for people less fortunate than you. Work at a food bank, a homeless shelter, a Goodwill, a hospital.

Do things for other people and you won’t be focused on yourself. And by helping out you will not only gain some self respect, but some satisfaction and a bit of love in return.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Accomplish something significant and meaningful on your own. It feels good and it makes you. And, after awhile, it is addictive. Be a verb, not a simple noun or an adjective dependent upon a noun for definition. Go.

DWW25921's avatar

I think you described me in a lot of ways… I look at it in a different way though. Why not just own it? It’s how you are and if people can’t accept that than they’re not your friends. I wouldn’t chance who I am to meet your needs so why would I expect you do it for me? There are compatible people out there, sure, if they’re like us than they’re a little strange. Why is that a bad thing? Why do you need to be “fixed?”

I think the only thing you need help with is self acceptance and encouragement. Why would you expect others to accept you when you don’t accept you?

Haleth's avatar

It sounds like you’re really extroverted and don’t have enough of an outlet. It sounds like your life is full of positive relationships already, but is there anything you can do to be more engaged, or to be around people more?

This would be a great time to tackle a big, challenging project or to find an engaging hobby. But you could also look for ways to channel the energy that you seem to get from being around people. Like, take a public speaking class, find a debate group, learn a foreign language, or get involved in community theater. You could also do volunteering; mentoring/ tutoring students is meaningful and challenging.

You said you’re very close with your friends, and have known them most of your life. Can you have an honest talk with any of them about this?

hearkat's avatar

You see your psychiatrist quarterly, but what about a therapist? Medications can stabilize your brain chemistry somewhat, but it takes considerable effort to change behavior patterns and thought processes. You say you can’t afford one – but there are self-help books, support groups, and Doctors with sliding-scale fees. ( If you want to change, you have to be your priority.

I find that neediness is just an expression of insecurity… when we don’t like ourselves and can’t imagine what others see in us, we hope for signs of approval and validation from them. When they come frequently, as in a new friendship or relationship, we can get addicted to the rush of feeling like we matter to someone. Over time as newness wears off, behavior falls into a more typical give-and-take, and we miss that ego boost. Then we start to do attention-seeking things, like trying to do favors and be useful or at least be cute, and when that doesn’t work we create drama. Eventually, the other sees that we’re insecure and trying too hard and not being genuine, and they move on. Then we have reinforced our low self-esteem by proving that we’re not likable. It’s a vicious cycle.

In my personal journey, I broke everything down to the base issue of Fear. Insecurities, jealousy, controlling, anxiety and depression can usually be broken down to fear of being alone. Once I came to this conclusion, I reminded myself of the fact that we are born alone and we die alone. Even if we’re identical twins, or even if my beloved and I die simultaneously in each other’s arms – we cross the threshold to and from this existence as a single entity. Once I accepted this fact, I realized that I only have to answer to myself and my own conscience (in my case, I am also obligated to the being whom I brought into the world, since he didn’t ask to be born). The other fact that I came to accept was that control is an illusion—we can not change the past, we can not control other people, we can not determine what will happen next in our lives… the only thing we can control is what we think, say, and do in this very moment.

I found these realizations to be very liberating. I stopped pining for a happy childhood in a healthy family because it just could never be. I stopped worrying about what others think of me or trying to manipulate them into liking or needing me. Instead, I focused on the moment I was in – observing what was happening, finding the positives to enjoy, and dealing with the negatives (even if that means just letting them go, like water off a duck’s back). My only goal is to choose actions in the moment that allow me to go to bed at night with no new regrets.

I learned to accept myself as I was – chronically depressed. I thought about how my shitty childhood and chronic depression helped me be more compassionate and a deep-thinker. I realized that it wasn’t “wrong” to be the way I am. I then learned to forgive the mistakes I’d made while I struggled with fear, insecurity, and control issues and let go of the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘should-haves’. I learned to like myself… and thus I became less needy of validation from others. I found my happiness within – just like all the clichés said I would. Once I started liking me, life became more enjoyable, I became more comfortable and confident and I found myself with new friends who genuinely like the genuine me, and are OK with me when I forget to reply to a message, or if I’m feeling tired and grumpy. I now respect myself, so I have found others who also respect me and won’t tolerate disrespect.

What we see in the mirror is what we find in the world around us… like attracts like. Once you become your own best friend, you’ll find more friends who reinforce that belief in you. It really does start from within.

janbb's avatar

^^^What she said.

DWW25921's avatar

@hearkat You know a lot of fancy words and your answer was much better than mine… Feeling a little intimidated now…

hearkat's avatar

@DWW25921 – It certainly wasn’t my intention to intimidate anyone… I’m just speaking from my personal experience of how I changed my outlook on life. I did use a lot of words, but I’m not sure how fancy any of them are…

DWW25921's avatar

@hearkat I was being silly but you did bring fourth a lot of solid wisdom to the table.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

@hearkat has really laid it all out nicely.
I think you should gift yourself, to help you get to a place where you can be happy. Choose what would appeal to you most. Perhaps a huge container to place money. Maybe you treat yourself to a favorite restaurant or dish. Perhaps shopping gadgets is your thing. Whatever your faves, write up a menu. For shrugging off an unanswered text, you get this. If someone promises to watch a movie with you (Etc.), and doesn’t show up, you get that. If the text comes through, just late, you have to pay back the prize, or make it a freebie for the next one. Your greed will help you appreciate some of those times when you’ve faced your tricky moments bravely. Note: If someone promises to help you move and they don’t show, you are entitled to come down on them.
If you stick to your menu rigidly, without bending, you will soon hear yourself saying, “That’s fine, now I get a six-pack of my favorite muffins.” It won’t even hurt. Know this, I seriously don’t believe you will get over it completly. That’s okay. It is who you are. My suggestion is simply for helping you to face certain moments of your life less painfully.
I can see you honestly want this change in your life. From what you say, I really believe you have the strength to make it work.

serenityNOW's avatar

Thanks all… sorry I asked this question and then fell off the site for a little bit. A couple of you guys recommended books. Are there any books you all could recommend, or authors? @marinelife – That book sounds interesting; unfortunately it’s out of stock and my public library doesn’t have it. @hearkat – Thanks for the sincere answer…
I did see my psychiatrist: he made an interesting point that I’ll try to convey: there’s only so much that meds can do, and when I’m stabilized on the meds, and my moods are “kind of” even, I start looking for a relationship. So, when I’m level, I start dating, and in a way it’s a good thing. Then this vicious pattern starts up again, but thanks to him I’m self-aware of what’s going on. It is a pattern, and it sucks, but in a way maybe it’s a good thing. I think I will take up a hobby @Haleth – I’ve been meaning to teach myself to teach guitar, so I can give lessons over the weekends. It’s something I’ve put off, but I’m thinking that if I can just fill up the time, that may work. Guys, thanks for the support during this trying time…

hearkat's avatar

@serenityNOW – Thanks for the update. Please do keep checking in with us here. Again, I suggest finding a support group or psychologist with a sliding-scale fee.

Books can be helpful, but only if they ‘click’ with the reader, which is why I don’t like to make specific recommendations. There are the classics – which have become so for a reason – I’ve read The Road Less Travelled and The Art of Loving more than once.

I find many current ‘self-help’ books to be too oversimplified or trite, while others praise them highly. Therefore, I suggest going through Amazon an Barnes & Noble’s sites and reading the descriptions and reviews of different books to see which might be a good fit for you. Personally, I liked the few Deepak Chopra books I read – he intersperses case studies with the theoretical discussion and some do-it-yourself exercises.

Several years back, I found a Cognitive Behavioral Workbook that I gifted to an ex after we broke up. I have no idea whether it was used, but I liked the idea and thought that I’d have liked to have had one earlier in my own journey. I’m sure there are numerous options available these days, so again I suggest going through the descriptions and reviews to help you choose the one that seems best for you.

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