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How Neediness Can Damage a Relationship

by Karen Kleinschmidt, studioD

While everyone needs reassurance at various times throughout their lives, needy people have a chronic need from their partners for love, satisfaction, appreciation and attention that seems to never get its fill, according to Dr. Phil McGraw, mental health professional and daytime talk show host. Chronic neediness along with the inability to self-soothe or value themselves can cause the partners of needy people to feel intense frustration which may weaken or possibly end the relationship.


It may be difficult for a needy person to see the damage he is doing to the relationship with his neediness, but he is neglecting his own needs by waiting for his partner to fulfill them. Distrust may be one of the causes of neediness in a relationship. The needy partner may fear being abandoned by his partner or shunned by his group of friends. Examining his feelings of neediness and insecurities can help him to find the source of it. Perhaps his neediness stems from being cheated on by a previous partner, or he has unresolved abandonment issues from childhood.

Old Wounds

Old wounds have a way of creeping up and wreaking havoc in current relationships, and when they do it can be difficult to stop the insecurity from making the needy partner appear desperate. They can also drive a needy person to have a desire to control every aspect of the relationship as she attempts to avoid getting hurt. For example, she may call her boyfriend every time he goes out with his friends because she feels lonely and abandoned, rather than going out with her own friends or engaging in an activity she enjoys. Her boyfriend may feel suffocated and react by spending even less time with her. This type of insecurity can cause a great deal of stress and tension between partners, warns therapist Mark Tyrrell. A needy person's partner may withdraw, which will likely increase her neediness and insecurities.

Stifling a Partner

Intimacy is built on sharing with each other and allowing each other to grow as individuals. Often, the more the needy partner pushes for closeness, the more the other partner will pull away. For example, if a needy partner constantly asks his partner what is wrong when she is quiet or constantly tries to touch or hug his partner just to calm his own insecurities, his partner may pull away. Tyrrell notes that insecure people look for what isn't working in their relationships, rather than noticing the positive traits that can help them learn and grow. This can put a damper on the relationship, especially if a partner grows tired of constantly reassuring the needy partner.

Stay Present

To combat neediness in current relationships, the needy partner needs to pay attention to her thoughts so she is able to catch herself when her mind says things like, "Why didn't he text me back right away?" or "Why doesn't he want to hang out tonight? Who is he with?" These are thoughts based on what she is imagining could happen. These thoughts are not facts, although the needy partner may quickly find those needy, desperate and clingy feelings rising to the surface as she attempts to avoid imaginary abandonment. Writing her thoughts down on paper as a way to take note of what is really occurring can help foster self-assurance.

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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