I once had a relationship with a man who, for a while, I thought was the perfect match for me. Then something started to feel off. At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, because in many ways it was an amazing relationship…
Most of the time he seemed very loving and giving, though there were other times he was quite disconnected and thoughtless in his behaviour. He would suggest and then commit to do things with me and then act like he never said them. There were times when he seemed comfortable for me to meet up with my friends, yet other times his insecurity would surface and he’d sulk by texting and calling me to find out what I was up to without him.
Over time I realised that this man was running his own race. He was affectionate and loving when it suited him; the relationship was never about partnership, it was all about what he could get, not give.
Basically, his actions were conflicting because he was deeply conflicted. Why?
Well, it wasn’t until after I broke up with him that I could truly see what was going on. It was crystal clear, the man who seemed like the perfect match did not love me. He needed me.
You might think “What’s wrong with being needed?” Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the one needing you is a child and not an adult who’s supposed to be a fully functioning adult.
You see, while a relationship of need is perfectly fine between parents and their children, it is the opposite between adults who desire a healthy relationship. Sure, couples with varying emotional awareness can have a long-lasting relationship, though the less evolved couples are miserable and unhappy. Not what I advocate.
The reason that neediness is not a foundation for a healthy commitment is it’s the offspring of fear, and any relationship that’s based on fear is not a pleasant one. To clarify, neediness is differnet to having needs. It’s okay to desire affection, support and kindness, we do depend on a partner to satisfy some of our wants ands needs, which can overlap with our core values. This article is highlighting when a person’s needs become “neediness needs” and in a way that can negatively impact a relationship.
So, how do you know if you’re loved or needed? Here are five questions to ask yourself.
#1 Does he need you to boost his ego?
A needy person is often ego-driven and will display narcissistic traits. The perfect example of an ego-based connection is one that is often called a “rebound” relationship. Someone is heartbroken and feeling rejected, maybe their last relationship was devoid of love and affection, so they go out and find someone to boost their esteem. They seek a new partner to feel validated and wanted, they have little to give, yet they are happy to receive. They will suck you dry without even knowing that they’re doing it.
Also, a person who’s on an ego mission will often have double standards, what’s okay for them may not be okay for you. When you explain this to them they may understand how you feel though they won’t change their ways – they can’t. Why? Because their priorities differ to yours in a way that doesn’t suit true intimate love.
Yet, not all need based relationships are the same. Some people’s neediness shows up more like submission – they would move mountains to make you happy and at the expense of what they authentically want. You say “jump” and they say “how hi?”.
In fact, a man may even say “I need you,” which can sound very romantic and very heart-warming but need is not love. Need is wanting. Love is giving.
Now, do these situations sound like a healthy relationship? Of course they don’t.
#2 Happier without him?
A needy person can, at times, be very affectionate, which can feel like love, but how do you feel as a whole? Do you look after each other? Do you also feel supported? Were you happier without him or is your enhanced with him?
Yes, all relationships have their challenges, and we all have a need to belong, and that’s why we often mistake this need for love. We so often find ourselves in relationships we’d much rather break off, but we don’t because we mistakenly believe it’s better to have someone who needs you than live alone. It’s not better. Especially if you’re miserable in it.
Getting attached to the idea of someone is based on need, not love, and when you’re not happy in it. Nobody is.
#3 Do you feel loved?
In other words, do you feel like your partner accepts you as you are? Acceptance is the foundation of love, and can be absent from the need-based relationship. People who love feel no desire to change the object of their love. People who need can put a lot of effort into molding the one they think they need to their wishes.
Love is not about saying “I love you” a hundred times a day and in the meantime criticizing everything you do if it falls short of his high expectations. Love is about having, for example, heated political arguments and not letting these affect your relationship because even if you disagree with each other’s views, you accept them.
Sure, we’re all a work in progress, life is about learning and changing, though in a truly loving relationship both people are committed to understanding themselves and the other person. It’s a partnership. A joint effort, a co-creation.
#4 Does he trust you?
Is he okay with you going on a trip with a group of friends or with colleagues from work or is he pretending he’s okay? Does he ask a lot of questions about your day under the pretense of caring about every single thing that happened to you? I’m sure you can see where I’m going.
Needy people don’t like to share. They especially resent having to share their “caretaker”. This is a pretty easy way to spot the difference between love and need. If your man needs you, he will not be fine with anything you might choose to do without him. If he loves you, he would have no problem with anything you do because he trusts you. Trust is one of the clearest “symptoms” of true love.
#5 Can you feel your wings?
If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the “We all have wings, but some of us don’t know why” verse by Michael Hutchence. We do all have wings, but when you feel needed rather than loved by another, you often can’t feel them. That’s because they’re tied down to the ground by their partner’s many insecurities and fears.
People who need other people don’t really care about anyone else’s needs or desires. Their agenda is all that matters, because they don’t value a relationship they need it to feel okay about themselves. Because of this, you may become so focused on your partner’s needs that you forget yours, you forget your dreams and desires. That’s how great it is to be needed.
But love makes you fly. If someone truly loves you, he will encourage you in everything you do, when challenges arise he will help you to keep believing in yourself, and he will never tie you to the ground.