Social Question

higherground's avatar

How do you guys deal with people who are needy?

Asked by higherground (1148points) December 14th, 2009

Okay… at the moment, I have a group of friends who are very needy by nature. And when I say needy, I mean that they expect me to be there all the time / do things for them . And if I give them ‘no’ as an answer, they will get upset. Like for example, I am having my school break at the moment so I got myself a vacation job which takes up most of my time (bear in mind that I have to spend time with my family too). But at the same time, I have a group of friends from school (not that close to begin with) who keeps asking me to hang out . And when I say that I do not have time, they get upset and say things like ‘oh so, we are not important ?’, or things like ‘oh, so you prefer to hang out with your other friends and not us ?’ . I feel that this kind of attitude is really juvenile, but I can’t help but feel bad when they say such things.

At the same time, I feel my boyfriend is very needy too, although I’d like to think that such attitude is caused by the distance between us . He will be coming over to my country for good next June , but he keeps mentioning about ‘not being able to wait so long and expects me to fly over so we could countdown to the new year together . Unfortunately , I have a good friend’s birthday which falls on New Year’s Day itself . So I explained to him about it and he got upset , saying that I’d rather spend time at a friend’s party rather than spend time with a guy ‘who loves me’. Of course I got upset , because the reason for me wanting to celebrate the birthday of my friend’s instead , is because I think that birthdays only happen once in a year , whereas I could always go over to see him anytime .

(Anyway , we took 10 minutes to cool down and finally resolved this problem . He finally saw that he was not being understanding enough – I think!)

* takes a deep breath *

You can skip the details above , question starts here (=

I’d like to ask you guys out there . How do you guys deal with needy people ? Do you counter attack by saying things like ‘if you expect me to understand you , who is going to understand me ?’

Or even better! Any advices on how I can deal with such people ? I am very tired of taking care of so many people at once, that I don’t have time for myself!

Thank you !

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

33 Answers

colliedog's avatar

Everyone’s needy. The trick is to find a balance between their needs and yours. It sounds like you’ve been giving those close to you a bad impression of your willingness to take care of their needs. Maybe you have made more commitments than you are capable of maintaining. When you make a commitment to be someone’s friend, they have a right to expect certain things from you in return. If you’re not able to keep these commitments – and that’s what it sounds like – then perhaps you have been creating an unfair and perhaps unreasonable impression of your ability to be there for others. And perhaps you are actually more needy yourself than you have been willing to admit. It sounds like your neediness comes from wanting to have lots of friends around you who assume that you are closer to them than you actually feel. Am I right?

higherground's avatar

Yes , people are all needy by nature but every thing ought to have its limits. Plus, if I were to ask a few friends to hang out, it is just a proposal and not an obligation. It is just really selfish to get upset just because they can’t. (Not that I did not spend time with them, just that it never seems enough for them)

Mmm yes, I actually have an inability to say no to people because I have this mentality that ‘if I am able to help, I will help as much as I can.’ I have talked to a few people about my problem with this, and I know that I should learn to say ‘no’ but I wish I knew how to do it when it happens.

HighShaman's avatar

You have to learn to say ; “I’m sorry, BUT I just can’t help.” ... or come out and say “NO” .

It gets easier each time you do it…

gailcalled's avatar

I could not read all the details, but in general, relationships are always a balancing act. You come first.

Alrook's avatar

Everyone has specific needs and it is rather hard to find “central ground” in the amount of attention every person you know (family friend for example). I suppose the most a person can do is set priorities and try to find out the level of importance one person means to you when compared to others (for me its family first everything else second). I usually do not deal with many people, but when I do meet someone who is needy (and befriend them), I usually make it known off the bat that I will not be capable of helping them 24/7 and I don’t expect them to do that for me either. Sometimes I’ll find someone who tries to guilt trip me, and at that point I always say that I have other things to do (albeit in a polite manner).

higherground's avatar

@HighShaman Yes, I am aware of that. But at the moment, I am just not able to say ‘no’. Like when a friend expects me to do something and I try to say no, they will try to get under my skin. I just have no idea what to do. Maybe I need a bit more confidence to say ‘no’ ? I don’t know , I am not sure where to start.

YCLYHO's avatar

me personally? by avoiding them like the plague lols!

higherground's avatar

@Alrook Thank you for your advice. And yes, guilt trips always happens to me, especially when they talk about ‘importance’ , I just don’t know how to retaliate.

gailcalled's avatar

@higherground: One technique is to bargain. “I can’t do this, but I will do that.”

New Year’s Eve is my birthday also; tell your friend that this year you are obligated to celebrate with me. (Then send me a cookie.)

Clair's avatar

This reminds me of a question I once asked that began with ‘What’s up with…’ and it was modded saying that ‘that wording isn’t even cool for Jerry Seinfeld.’ That still makes me giggle! And I’m not sure what it has to do with this question!
To answer this question: Neediness is not tolerable for me. You need a friend to be there every minute and lick your ass 24/7? Go buy a dog. Friendship and immature unnecessary neediness is another. If it’s logical then it’s understandable. But neediness for the sake of neediness… get real. The real world isn’t about one person and all of their specific requests.

HighShaman's avatar

@higherground You C A N say “NO” ; it just takes a litttle Practice…

IF you are Always there , you are only enabling that person to be needy… by saying “NO” once in awhile, you teach them to be self reliant .

butterflykisses's avatar

For me, my friends know me well enough. love me, and respect me to understand when I say no, it is for a reason and don’t take it so personal. Perhaps it may be time to rethink your friends, who you consider a friend and who deserves your valuable time.

My husband doesn’t need me, he wants me. It makes for a wonderful relationship, one that allows me to have my own life and gives me the chance to want him back..;) He would never tell me what is or should be important to me. He knows and trusts I will tend to my needs the way I know fits me best.

trailsillustrated's avatar

from a distance

higherground's avatar

@YCLYHO HAHA ! But these kind of people are the most clingy, they will stick to you whether you like it or not ! Scary !

@gailcalled Hey ! That’s a good idea , thank you (= I hope it will work on them !

@Clair Thank you (= It is true , I just don’t understand why they make it as though I do owe them a living. It is just plain selfishness.

@HighShaman Yes, you are right! By saying ‘yes’ all the time doesn’t necessary mean that I am helping them. Thank you (=

@buttkisses Hi there (= Thank you for sharing, and I agree that mutual understanding is important for a relationship. Guess I will have to talk to my boyfriend about this.

@trailsillustrated LOL ! Thank you (=

Shemarq's avatar

Great question. As a mom, wife, and manager—believe me I know the feeling! LOL!!! You just have to set boundaries. I’ve found with friends who become a bit clingy, that if I have to turn them down, I’ll put a spin on it like “lets do something Saturday instead” or something like that. People need to understand that you are only one person and that you aren’t there for their beck and call. Don’t feel bad if you have other plans and they get upset – that is their problem. If they truely care about you as a friend they will understand. They are used to having you there when and where they want. They will get used to you having other interests as well.

Medlang's avatar

just say “bitch no! i aint your freaking mother. suck it up”

higherground's avatar

@Shemarq Thank you (= That is true, thank you for understanding! I used to be unable to say ‘no’ to people but when I managed to do it, they bring me on a guilt trip! Which is very horrible, because it never feels to make me feel bad. I agree with you.

lfino's avatar

Don’t let the needy friends give you a guilt trip. You’ll only enable them each time by giving in to them. You know how others in previous answers have said that if you start saying ‘no’ now, it gets easier? When your ‘friends’ started making you feel guilty, it got easier each time for them, and now it’s a piece of cake to make you feel guilty and give in to them! Don’t let them do this to you! If they pull the ‘you don’t love us’ card, just look at them, smile, and say, “Nope!” and then WALK. And DO NOT feel guilty about doing this.

higherground's avatar

@lfino Thank you (= I will need to practise on that , thank you so much . I guess it is all about learning to say ‘no’ and be firm .

Thank you all for your time and thank you for sharing your advices, I really appreciate it !

higherground's avatar

@gailcalled I will send you not just one cookie, I’ll send you a jar of cookies :D

wundayatta's avatar

I’m a needy person, and what I would like is to sit down and have a talk about our bottom lines. Ask me how much contact I want and of what kind. I’ll tell you, and then we’ll negotiate something that we can both live with. I believe I’m actually fairly easy. All I need is to know when we will next be in touch with each other, and then to have that schedule kept to. If it can’t be kept, I want to get a text or an email telling me that it’s off, but everything is ok between us.

Someone gets angry with me and I assume they want to break up with me. That’s because I don’t believe I will get a second chance. I don’t believe that love is constant. It depends, I believe, on how good I am. If I fuck up, it’s curtains.

Intellectually, I know these things are pretty unlikely, but the feeling is more powerful than I can handle. Once I start brooding, I’m lost. No, it’s even sooner than that. As soon as I have the thought, the delusional thinking takes over.

It’s such a fucked up way to live. This is why I don’t like conflict. It just stimulates that fight or flight instinct in me and everything goes to hell in a minute. I keep hoping that if people know what it feels like, then they might be willing to give me what I need to keep that reaction away. Of course, it doesn’t help that I don’t feel like anyone should pay any attention to what I want, so why should anyone try to make me feel more comfortable?

If I could find space in someone else’s head, I’d definitely rent out mine in a second. I would seriously consider a lobotomy. I wouldn’t end up doing it, but I’d wonder if I could be helped. None of this makes sense because I’m in the middle of a scenario right now. I can’t see straight. It makes me unfocused when I’m with people, and I’m sure people wonder what the hell is going on with me.

It doesn’t help that I hate this about me, and I feel guilty about it, and I can’t understand why anyone put up with me. Especially when I fall apart like this. I never used to be like this. Even so, I was quite insecure. I guess some things explode on you, and like Pandora’s Box, once it’s out, you can’t get it back in.

higherground's avatar

@daloon Yes I understand, but I guess that makes things complicated. Like I mentioned in the question, ‘if you expect me to understand you, who is going to understand me?’ and vice versa, and it goes on and on and on. Somehow, one of them has to learn to compromise, and that is the difficult part.

wundayatta's avatar

@higherground I can understand you. We just need to negotiate. Either we reach a workable agreement or we don’t. If you tell me you need your distance, and that does not mean you are dumping me or seeing someone else or whatever, and that you will send me a text every day letting me know you know I exist, and if we part on a good note, then I’ll be ok. It’s the uncertainty that makes me crazy. I wish I was like you.

higherground's avatar

@daloon Your point of view made me understand my boyfriend better, because he is always filled with a lot of insecurities (gotta thank the distance for it). To be honest, I’d prefer to negotiate for a balance, 50/50. Anything off that, I think either party will be unhappy.

May I ask, what causes the uncertainty? Being alone and wandering thoughts?

higherground's avatar

@La_chica_gomela HAHAHA ! That will be so scary . But I’ll prefer not to be, because I know how it feels to be around (too many) needy people.

* invisible hands strangling me by the neck *

wundayatta's avatar

@higherground Part of it was that, as a child, I was expected to perform (except I was never told the expectations) in order to receive what little love there was to hand out. No matter how hard I tried, I just wasn’t good enough to be loved. I guess I figured that’s the way it is. Love can be withdrawn at any time, and I’m left homeless, so to speak. It’s weird because I know I’m bringing the destruction down on my own head, and yet I keep doing the same things, over and over. I guess I don’t believe the story is or can be any different from the one I grew up with.

higherground's avatar

@daloon My boyfriend had a bad childhood too, I guess that explains it. I am sure it hasn’t been easy for the both of you. But I believe that irregardless of what life gives to us, we all definitely deserve to be happy, especially you (=

wundayatta's avatar

Deserving has nothing to do with it (although I use that language all the time). We choose to be happy or not. Apparently I enjoy being unhappy, since I never choose happiness. I always try to make it stop. I destroy it instinctively. I guess I’m trying to see if I embrace unhappiness, give in to it utterly and completely, would I ever find a way to relieve myself of these imagined punishments I think I deserve? But that has nothing to do with your question. Sorry.

higherground's avatar

@daloon But anyway, I always had difficulties understanding why my boyfriend is like this. I never really thought it’ll be connected to his past. He’d always talk about ‘not being someone who deserves’, yet he expects me to give him my utmost attention all the time. It is just confusing. He pushes me away yet he begs for me to be close. Sometimes I just don’t know what to do at all.

Anyway yes, we are all given a choice to be happy or not but IMO, happiness is the most important element to being alive. But I can understand your stand on finding comfort in unhappiness.

Sorry to sidetrack.

wundayatta's avatar

Push you away, beg you to be close. I don that, too. I’m doing that right now, in fact. In my case, it’s not just upbringing. I’m also bipolar. I’m going to speak for all of us, only because when I’ve said these things in the past, no one has objected. When we push you away, it is a test. If you truly love us, you will stay despite the pushing.

The problem is that sometimes we can’t stop pushing. We take it to your limit, and you break, and that confirms our unworthiness. It’s crazy. But that’s why they call it a mental illness. Our self-doubts can be huger than you can possibly imagine. We know that only love will fix it, and yet we put every barrier in the way of love that we can think of. It’s the only way we know how true the love is.

As to what to do. I don’t know if your boyfriend exhibits any other symptoms of bipolar disorder. I tend to see the world through bipolar eyes these days. But if he gets depressed, and then has periods full of energy and ideas; or if he abuses alcohol or drugs; or if he gets impulsive and buys you a lot of presents or buys stuff he can’t afford; of if (this one is hard) he has a number of affairs, or many serial relationships that last only a short time; or if a parent or other relative has bipolar disorder or even some other mental illness; then you have to wonder if that is part of his problem. You’d want to encourage him to see a psychiatrist to get diagnosed.

I hope that none of these things are there. It may be another kind of problem entirely. Low self-esteem on its own, if it is chronic, is worth getting help for. Seeing a therapist could help. You can serve as a mirror, giving him feedback about what he is doing, and letting him know it is worrisome and asking him to see a doctor or therapist to check on whether there is something that should be treated.

You must be a caretaker to have so many needy friends. You must need to be needed. Does that sound right? It’s not good on either side. What we all need are clearly established boundaries. There has to be a balance between space and reassurance. With your friends, I think that you can try to explain that you are taking some time to do this, but you still care for them and are there for them. Your priorities are different, but don’t read it as abandonment. You love them, and nothing will stop that. Right now, you need space to be with other friends, who are just friends, and not rivals in any way. Promise to call during the course of the night and do it. Don’t promise if you won’t do it. There’s a good chance that he’ll be sitting home alone, worrying and stewing and constructing a story in his head that you have abandoned him or you hate him, and he is just not worthy of you, anyway.

It sucks. I know. I’m in it. I wish I could tell myself this same advice. I wish I could calm my fears. I wish I could trust myself and trust that the people who say they care for me really mean it. I don’t want to push away people who love me. I don’t want to wall away that knowledge that they love me in some corner of my mind where I can’t feel it.

I want to let it out. I want to stop hurting people. I want to feel the love that people have for me. Fully and completely. I want to stop feeling scared to let it in because, like a soap bubble, it is doomed to pop. I want to understand this idea of unconditional love, and learn to trust it. I want to be held in it and believe that I don’t have to keep on proving myself, over and over. I want to stop being afraid that my next mistake will get me thrown out on the street.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther