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Note To Self: Having Needs Isn’t Needy

having needs isn't needy

Subconscious programming is hidden in our society relaying the message that having needs is needy. Women in particular can be especially impacted by this toxic belief, largely in relationships with another person. Expressing needs and seeking to get them met in any relationship is vital to its health, and it is not needy. Human beings have needs, and once we accept and allow that, we can create healthier relationships with ourselves and with others. 

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Human needs can show up in a broad range of ways, including the need for nourishing food, water, connection, nature, quiet, and those desires that are specific to your own special brand of self care. All of these needs are vital to being a positive, well-functioning presence to be around. 

Take time to ask yourself what needs you have been stifling, perhaps in order to seem easy going or low maintenance.

Do you need alone time, space, or quiet to reconnect with yourself? Does your body need nourishing food, but you feel like you need to eat a certain way to fit in socially? Perhaps you just need a good cry, but the timing is inconvenient and you don’t want to make those around you uncomfortable by crying in front of them. Maybe you need more creative expression. You might need more communication, attention, or affection from your partner.

Whatever your fundamental needs may be, they are valid. Those around you will most likely feel more at ease when you clue them in to what’s going on with you and make what you’re in need of at the moment known, instead of leaving them out and letting resentment build. 

The difference between having real needs and being needy is boundaries.

Neediness is inventing needs that aren’t actually the core of what you desire, but rather created solely to get attention, and usually negative attention. Wanting attention in a relationship is not bad. However, being aware that attention is what you seek and stating clearly that you are in need of attention and affection allows your needs to be met without creating drama for negatively gained attention.

Voicing your needs sets up healthy boundaries in relationships. Boundaries can mean making it clear that you are in need of something, and it can also mean something does not work for you.

Boundaries In Real Life

Perhaps you want affection from your partner, a completely valid desire that is at the core of a healthy relationship. Yet, instead of vocalizing that you desire affection in that moment, you become clingy, whiney, or resentful that your partner isn’t giving you affection because they do not understand that’s what you need, since you haven’t told them and they cannot read your mind. If you just ask for what you need, your partner can make it happen. 

Another scenario might be that you are having a rough day, and you just feel like crying. However, you think you shouldn’t cry in front of your partner, friend, or whoever is around you at the moment. You think maybe it will make them uncomfortable, or it makes you uncomfortable to cry in front of others. Perhaps you prefer to let those intimate, vulnerable moments play out in the company of only you, even though vulnerability is beautiful and it’s extremely brave to let people you trust into your heart.

So, you’re trying to hold it all in and keep it together because maybe that’s what those around you would want. What ends up happening probably goes something like this: your mood worsens, leaving you less than pleasant to be around, and your resentment grows toward the person or people around you because you begin to blame them for the reason you can’t cry even though you’re the one imposing this imaginary rule upon yourself.

Vocalizing your needs in this moment could have made the situation much easier. “Hey, I’m feeling extremely emotional today and I feel like crying, so if you feel uncomfortable with that, then I would love some alone time, or you can be present with me and just know I’m having a hard day.” Healthy boundary set; need clearly stated.

This is a much healthier form of communication, instead of letting the emotion seep out in unwanted ways like snapping at the other person, getting mad at them for no reason, or being clingy. Voicing your needs clues the other person in to the situation, so they can understand what’s happening, decide for themselves if they feel able to be present with you in that moment, and act accordingly. This is a better outcome than feeling confused and trying to second guess why your behavior is as such, which only builds their own resentment as well. 

Your need in a moment may be a simple as hunger, but maybe those around you are focused on doing other things and you feel badly saying “I need to take a break and eat food,” even though it is vital for your health and your mood. Many of us are taught by unconscious societal wiring that we must be easy going, almost to a fault, and that having any sort of need or desire is too large an ask.

Being clear, forward and up front about your needs is the opposite of being needy. It’s setting proper boundaries, communicating clearly, and creating healthier relationships.

About the Author

Isabela Minogue

Isabela attended Lewis and Clark College, the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy. Her interests include ceramics, baking, being outside, poetry, and dancing. Her long term career goal is to do positive and loving work in the world to help people, and to inspire, lift, and spread as much light as possible to other humans.