Monday, June 23, 2008

On Being Emotionally Needy

My weekend was very low key. I decided to be totally self centered and give myself the gift of a weekend without obligations or tasks. Most of the weekend I only did what I wanted. I ran one small errand, and went out to dinner with my wife and son, but much of my time was spent in my little Hobbit hole reading, napping, listening to music, and reading some more. Most weekends seem as busy as my workdays so a weekend with minimal activity and obligations was a blessing.

Recently I received an email from a friend asking for advice concerning a problem she and her husband were having with communication. Last Friday I had some interesting dialogue with another friend about how men are from Mars and women from Venus and how most men and women find the opposite sex a mystery. Yesterday I read a Top Ten List of signs that you are an emotionally needy person. All of this has had my mind going in many directions as I pondered the often rocky landscape of relationships and communication between men and women and people in general. As I read the Top Ten List I was disappointed but not surprised that I showed some of the behaviors of a needy person. Because I think of myself as a fiercely independent person, it is difficult for me to accept this about myself. I admit, however, that I feel I have lived much of my life without many emotional needs being met. Living like this gives me the false belief that I have overcome any potential neediness. I must be in denial. Am I really needy or has my life truly been lacking in the basic emotional fulfillment that all people want? I am not unaware that there are many people in this world who truly like me. In spite of that, like many people I have sometimes felt ignored, forgotten, overlooked, or taken for granted. Feelings, of course, do not always reflect reality but our perceptions often become our reality. I believe my feelings have, in part, contributed to my solitary and withdrawn personality. My love of solitude is not spiritually or emotionally pure. Part of my love of solitude is because I find it safe. When I am alone life seems much easier and there are fewer disappointments. Is a person needy because there are feelings or experiences one wants in life but feels they are not having? What desires are normal? When does one cross the line between legitimate wants and being needy? Are you being needy if you are assertive about satisfying emotional wants? I really don't know. This is tricky territory for me. How much should I reach out? Sometimes I am tempted to fall into my passive aggressive tendencies and think "I am going to ignore everyone and not reach out to anyone until they acknowledge me on their own. I will stay in my Hobbit hole and be safe. I am not going to reach out because I do not want to be disappointed or hurt". All of this makes me realize how complex we human being are. Each of us is a tangled mess of personality traits, emotional needs, wonderful gifts, dysfunctional behaviors, as well as contradictory, sometimes conflicting, and often surprising actions. I suppose this is what makes humans beings so interesting and occasionally maddening.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I am wondering the same thing. I also don't know if I just pick people who can't be emotionally available for the long haul, or if I am just a bottomless pit and no amount emotional attention will ever be enough to satisfy the hurt child inside, so I end up pushing good people away. Either way, I tend to retreat into solitude, where it's safer and there's less disappointment. It seems I go from one extreme to the other: I'm in relationships that are emotionally intense for a while, but then the other person pulls away because I am too needy, or I am completely alone. There's no in between. I wish I had answers. You're not unique in this, though. I am going to a counselor and to Codependents Anonymous, which is helping.

Anonymous said...

I too like to be alone because it's so much easier. I'm not close to many people at all. I like it better that way. This is how I manage the rejection I've experienced due to this "neediness" thing that seems to show its ugly head and scare away relationships. Recently I have found that in relation to an office mate, I have a very difficult time keeping myself closed off because I must interact with this person as well as compromise. As a result, I find myself vulnerable and unable to process the feelings that come up when I feel rejected. This person called me extremely needy. Believe me, I don't want to be needy. I'm ashamed to be needy. My mother and sister are needy too. I don't want to be in the situation at all. Now I'm looking for ways to understand this neediness that follows me around like an ugly shadow. Needless, that's what I want to be.