Neediness is something that damages relationships. I think that’s something that we can all agree on and understand intuitively. Yet it’s an issue that many people have a lot of difficulty with. There’s also a lack of understanding, at a
So in this guide, I’m going to cover the main causes of neediness as well as the ways it hurts you and the people around you. Of course, I will also cover how to overcome neediness in your life!
If you stick with me, you’ll understand the psychology of being too needy better than most people and you’ll be able to help yourself overcome your neediness if that’s an issue for you.
What is Neediness?
Let’s start with the definition of neediness:
Neediness is the state of excessively needing affection, validation, reassurance, and attention from other people. In some cases, people have a desperate craving for attention and affection to the degree of not feeling whole without it.
Neediness is not the same as wanting or needing certain things.
We’ll look into a couple of examples later on, but one of the main differences is a degree of clinginess. If you’ve ever been on a first or second date where the other person (or yourself) came of strongly about needing you and about being together, then you know what I’m talking about.
Oftentimes someone who is needy doesn’t get a lot of affection and attention from people around them. They are starved for it. To someone in that situation, getting attention from someone is like getting food from someone when you haven’t eaten in 5 days.
Picture that and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what neediness means.
In the case of just starting to date someone, you may be the first person in a long time who has taken an interest in someone romantically. You instantly become the most important person to them. But of course, that neediness is one of the biggest attraction killers there are…
You can rest assured that nothing good will come from neediness.
What Are the Main Causes of Neediness?
It’s nearly impossible to solve a problem you don’t understand. This is one of the main reasons why so many people are miserable. They don’t have an understanding of the way their mind works and so they can’t solve their issues. Or worse, they don’t even know what the real problems are!
So let’s start with understanding where neediness is coming from.
Evolution & Loneliness
Let’s start with the root, our brain.
One of the main causes of neediness is the deeply rooted psychological drive for survival. This need for survival has been deeply rooted in the unconscious part of our brain from even before the first cavemen. There are certain systems in this unconscious part of the brain that are the cause of many of the issues that we’re facing in our lives.
One of the issues it causes is neediness.
Back in the day, our ancestors needed to stick together in order to increase their chances of survival. A person who didn’t belong to a group and was out alone would be susceptible to the attacks of animals as well as other people. It is because of this that we have a tendency (sometimes obsession) with getting other people’s approval, of fitting in and of needing to be liked by other people.
You can see how this leads to neediness.
When you are feeling isolated, lonely or like you’re not fitting in, your brain turns on the survival instincts. In order to protect you, your brain gives you this urge for seeking out the approval of others. In other parts, one of the causes for neediness is to fit in for your “survival”.
Of course, this threat is no longer there in modern society, but the instinct is.
This is another main cause of neediness.
You know the kind of messages:
“You need to have your life figured out and have found your life partner when you’re 30 years old. You also need to have a stable career by then and have your own home. If you don’t you are the biggest loser to mankind, your entire world is going to crumble down, you’ll die alone and miserable and all the kittens will die as well!”
It’s complete and utter garbage!
However, because you hear those kinds of messages from all around you, they become real in our minds.
So whenever someone starts to subscribe to that idea and notion, they’ll become needier as time goes on. They want to avoid the social pressure of “being a failure” in the eyes of other people. This kind of pressure is something that needs to stop, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
The next best thing is to know that there is no given timeline for anything.
Don’t let others rush you, do things at your pace!
Low Self Esteem
One of the key characteristics of neediness is the need for validation from other people. One of the reasons for this is having low self-esteem. Because someone doesn’t regard themself highly, they desperately need that validation from other people to feel like they matter, are good enough or deserving of attention.
Without people around them, they feel like they’re nobody.
Or to reverse it:
If you are confident and know your worth, you won’t be needy because you know that you are more than good enough by yourself. You feel good just being (by) yourself and if someone isn’t right for you or doesn’t improve things, you don’t need to keep that person around to feel like you matter.
Dependency or a Lack of Options
When you have few options, you get more attached to the ones that you do have. This situation gets you in a mindset of scarcity, the idea that there is not enough to go around for everyone. A scarce mindset causes you to clutch onto whatever you can get because you don’t want to be left out.
It comes in many forms:
- Having only 1 interview after months of applying
- Having your first date in 9 months
- Not having enough potential clients in business
- Sticking with people you don’t really like because you have nobody else
- Only being accepted into a single college out of all the ones you wanted
The list is endless, but the pattern stays the same.
It intuitively makes a lot of sense:
When you have a lot of options, you generally feel more confident and less needy because you don’t need the other person. If things don’t work out, you don’t get that job, you don’t end up doing business. or you don’t get your first choice then you have the feeling that you will be perfectly fine because of all the other options that you have available to you.
Not having those options brings out the needy side of many people.
This is not always the case as some people aren’t needy at all even when having little to no options. This pairs directly with self-esteem and confidence. The higher those are in a person, the more it drowns out neediness. The issue with many people is that their confidence and self-esteem depend on the number of options they have.
In other words:
Knowing that someone has 5 more interviews lined up in the next week gives them the confidence to go into today’s interview boldly and optimistic. This is a double-edged sword because it is borrowed confidence, not their own. As soon as that person gets into a situation where they lack options, they will feel extremely insecure and cling onto whatever they can get.
Neediness in Different Situations
Being a needy person is never a black and white situation.
A person can have neediness or even desparation in certain areas of their life, but be completely fine in others. It’s always situational, so in order to understand how neediness works and affects one’s life, we need to look at some of the most common areas where it shows up.
Neediness in Relationships
This is probably the one that comes to mind immediately.
You see this when someone comes from a dark place or when they are not feeling great mentally and then enters a relationship. Most of the time they will start feeling a lot better because of that relationship. And in some cases, their partner actually makes them heal those wounds of the past. However, in many others, the relationship is more like duct tape in the sense it keeps things in place and prevents a person from falling apart.
The second case is dangerous!
In this case the person feels much better, but because that effect only came from the relationship, they will be desperate to hold onto it. In some cases the entire idea of feeling good is linked to the other person or being in a relationship in general.
It’s a dependency not unlike a drug or alcohol addiction!
Neediness in Dating
Another area where some people are incredibly needy.
Looking at the main causes of neediness above, you’ll see that most of them come together in dating. There’s pressure from society to be in a relationship, there’s the feeling of loneliness when you’re not, and because many people predicate their self worth not on themselves but on these kinds of things, it leads to low self esteem as well.
Ever dated someone who was needy or desperate?
Then you’ll know how this affects people in a pretty significant way.
Neediness Among Friends
Ever had your mind become a conspiracy theorist when it comes to your friends?
“I’m sure they only tolerate having me around, but they don’t really like me.”
“They probably have a text channel for everyone except for me.
“Everyone is very close to one another, but not to me.”
These thoughts often stem from a combination of both low self-esteem and our evolutionary drive to be part of a group. In this scenario someone would be a bit clingy in their friendship. They want to stay top of mind with their friends because they fear they’ll be forgotten about or left out if they don’t.
Neediness on Social Media
This is a pretty big problem for many people these days.
There is a huge need for social validation among many people. Ever posted something to Instagram or TikTok and then continued to spend every minute of the day to constantly check how many likes and comments you got? You’re not alone! Lots of people do that, and they will get bummed out when they only get 80 likes instead of the 110 the get on average.
They will feel like people don’t like them or that they are not good enough.
In reality, it is something incredibly small that has literally 0 impact on your life! However, when you get attached to these stupid numbers on your phone, that’s when you base your own worth on them. In constant, I’m in business to get attention. And while I do want to reach more people, I am not emotionally attached to any of the numbers.
Neediness at the Workplace
This starts even before you have a job.
When it comes to one’s career or business, it’s less about the emotional connection compared to the other kinds of neediness. And so the psychological factors that are in play shift mostly towards dependency. After all, people need to have income to feed themselves and their family. There is also some societal pressure since certain jobs are generally looked down upon.
Neediness in the workplace takes many different forms.
The person looking for a job might be desperate for money or they might only have a single interview. The entrepreneur’s world (in their head) might fall apart if they don’t get the contract they worked months for. People might work desperately for a promotion and feel resentment if they don’t get it.
What Are the Symptoms of Neediness?
Now that we know the major causes of neediness, let’s look at the symptoms.
There are some common signs and patterns that needy people often show in one combination or another. It’s important to recognize these symptoms so that you can recognize neediness both in yourself as well as in people around you. If you don’t know what to look for, it’s going to be harder to recognize.
The thing with neediness, as the term implies, is that you need someone (or something).
If you ever find yourself feeling empty when you are not with somebody, that’s a pretty good warning sign. It pains me to see when people think they can’t be without a certain person or that they need to have a special person in their life to feel complete. For that signals that you don’t believe you are whole as a person because of low self-esteem, loneliness or both.
And frankly, it means you’re not ready for that kind of person in your life.
This is something that you will have to overcome.
It’s not an easy thing to do either, I know that. It is going to take time and effort to get through this, but once you can accept yourself, without the need for someone else, that’s when you’ll feel so much better. Part of it is from knowing that your happiness in life depends on you. It is a choice and that choice is your to make and yours alone!
Jealousy isn’t a bad thing per se, when used in a healthy way.
For me, jealousy comes in the form of looking at people like Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, Gary Vaynerchuk and others with admiration. I am jealous in the sense that I can tell myself “I want that.” but I do not have any negative emotions associated with it. For me, it’s just a goal in the far future that I’d like to work towards, something that is important to me.
However, with needy people, it’s generally different.
Needy people can get extremely jealous when their partner is talking to someone (attractive) of the opposite gender. They might be angry at a friend when they go somewhere with someone else without inviting them. Or they could feel terrible if they feel left out.
You’ll see this one in action regularly.
Have you ever rejected either someone or an offer they made you? Most people will kindly accept it, wish you the best and you part ways. However, sometimes you’ll notice that people go into desperation mode. They’ll tell you all of the amazing things they will do or the great benefits you get when you don’t walk away from them. In those instances they’ll do almost anything to not have to lose you.
This happens in various situations.
For example, when you are buying a new car, don’t ever take the first offer they give you. When you tell them you don’t feel like you’re getting a great deal and that you want to look around elsewhere, you’ll notice the salesman turn around quickly to give you a better deal. Partially it’s because of their job, but it’s also the case that their commission or bonus depends on their sales.
Or what about a breakup?
Someone decides to break up with the other and if that other person is emotionally needy, they’re likely to make their pleas. They’ll tell you about all the ways in which they’ll change or how you belong together, etc.
This is linked tightly to low self-esteem.
Confident people generally don’t go out there to seek confirmation of how good or worthy they are. However, those who aren’t as confident will probably go out there looking for reassurance. They need others to tell them that they’re good enough, that they matter and those kinds of things.
You often see this in combination with negative self talk.
Someone will tell you that they are terrible, ugly, feeling terrible, etc. It is human nature to comfort someone like that and they know it. If it happens only occasionally, that’s not too bad. Someone could be having a bad day. However, for emotionally needy people it’s often constant and no matter how many times you reassure them that they’re overreacting, they’re not going to stop it.
They just won’t accept it and need that reinforcement to feel good.
Note: One of the other factors (because it’s almost never just 1 thing) is the confirmation bias. If someone beliefs they are ugly, they will pretty much automatically disregard any signal that tells them they are not. No matter how many positive signals they get. Contrary, the mind takes even the tiniest signal that confirms their belief and goes “See, I told you so!”.
I think we can all agree that this isn’t a problem in itself.
However, the issue with needy people is that they agree way too much. It’s like they’re walking on eggshells and are afraid to go against anything that someone says. That’s neediness in action. Someone is trying too hard to earn and keep someone’s approval that they agree to their every opinion and argument.
In turn, they start losing their own identity because they don’t stand up for their own opinion.
Likewise, you’ll see a similar pattern with regards to tolerating certain behavior. Someone will tolerate certain kinds of behavior that they dislike because they are afraid to speak up about it. They may laugh it off but inside they are feeling hurt by it. Yet, they feel that if they speak up, they’ll lose the person they speak up against.
This is the other side of bargaining.
While you will see someone bargaining to other people, desperation is what is happening internally at that very same time. Desperation is the internal emotion that causes neediness and in turn that causes the behavior. Desperation happens when you feel like this is a last chance or when you feel you absolutely need to make this work.
When you’re feeling this, it’s a signal to start shifting your mindset towards more abundance and start creating more options.
Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing or a surefire way to tell if someone is needy. Wanting to stay in touch is a sign of affection (both for love and general friendship. However, needy people often show this kind of behavior as well. Don’t draw any conclusions from this alone, but if you withness this in combination with some of the other signs of neediness, that’s an indication that someone might be affected by it.
With texting one of the more obvious cues would be the scenario where you’re out with the guys or girls and you get constant texts to ask how it is. Even more of a warning sign would be when you stop replying and you get the “Helloo??” kinds of messages afterwards.
How to Overcome Neediness
Please note that in order to stop being needy, you first need to figure out yourself.
There are multiple things that cause neediness and even more emotions that people experience. In other words, you will need to figure out what the core reason is for you and then you can start solving your issue. There are multiple methods for overcoming neediness, but what might work for you might not work for someone else and vice versa.
It comes down to self-awareness.
Read about these ways of overcoming neediness and go for the one(s) that you think suit you best. Apply these methods consistently and if after a couple of months you notice no difference, try something else.
Know Your Values
Knowing your values is crucial not just to overcome neediness but for your life in general. One of the main issues is that people don’t know what they stand for and what their values are. People will accept anyone out of neediness or desperation when they don’t know their values. All because they want someone, anyone.
Knowing your values is powerful!
When you know qualities you value in yourself as well as in other people, you kill neediness. After getting to know somebody, you will be able to understand if someone matches the thins you deem important for a person. And when you figure out that someone is not a right fit for you, you can more easily justify that.
On the flip side, you know when you found someone that IS your perfect match.
Most people pick their friends and partners by instinct because society tells you to “follow your heart”. If you go into business you have a plan, you have a plan for your studies, if you go into a new sport or hobby you will learn how things work. You have plans and strategies for every area of your life and you know how to know when you’re on the right track, so why not this area?
Your values not only make sure that you are in line with what you think is true, but also know to recognize these in others.
Boost Your Skills and Have More Options
Let’s be real here for a moment.
One of the reasons why you may be feeling needy is because you’re just not good enough yet. If you don’t have a lot of options in any area of your life, you’re probably incompetent in that area. When you have amazing work experience and education, finding a good job is easy. When you’re good with people, making friendships and dating becomes 10x easier.
There’s a good chance you’re just not good enough.
I know that this may sound painful, but it’s the truth!
Note: Know that I don’t mean that you aren’t worthy of love and respect, a bad person, or that you are a loser. It has nothing to do with you as a person, but rather with your actions and skills. There is nothing wrong with you, but you just haven’t learned the right skills yet and have not been doing the right things.
One of the best ways to improve your self-esteem, self-worth and your life in general is to level up yourself.
When you accept that you currently are not living up to your potential, you can start to improve. But that first crucial step is to accept that this is the case. You need to sit down and evaluate where you are in life and where you want to go. Then you can figure out the skills you’re lacking and can work on building those.
Again, yes I know it’s harsh to say, no I’m not sorry!
Deal with it and live up to the person you could be!
When you do build up your skills and build strong new habits, you’ll be feeling way more confident and competent. Plus you will have the skills to back it up and reach your goals!
Love Spending Time With You
There’s a huge difference between being lonely and being alone.
Being alone is definitely not a “cool” thing in our society, but I can tell you that it’s a superpower when you can be all alone by yourself and feel happy as fuck! When you learn how to cultivate hobbies and interests so that you don’t need to be around other people to feel happy, you’ll achieve a new level of freedom!
Of course, other people can still enrich your life while you enrich their’s, but you won’t be dependent on others for your enjoyment and happiness in life. You’ll be able to drop any neediness because you know that you’re perfectly fine even if you’re all alone.
You time is important!
Increase Your Self-Esteem
I’ll be the first to admit this is way easier said than done.
On one hand you have self-improvement. Improving your skills, working out and getting in shape, getting a better job, creating something you’re proud of, etc. Doing those things will help you increase your confidence and your self-worth because you are actually becoming a better version of yourself.
There is also the mental side.
I don’t have time to go into details here, but one of the best ways to boost your self-esteem and become a less needy person is to change your limiting beliefs. You may not be aware of them right now (as they live in your unconscious, but once you grasp those and begin to change them, your view of yourself will shift.
And as you change your beliefs, everything else changes in turn.
Have a Goal in Mind
Ambition is cool, both having huge audacious goals and having more humble ones.
However, you should have at least one clear goal for what you want to achieve with your life. If you don’t have a goal in life, you’re just drifting through it, you’re going through the motions. Without a clear direction, life becomes dull and meaningless because as humans, we get much of our satisfaction from growth.
Without a goal of your own, you’re more vulnerable to neediness.
Since you lack that kind of fulfillment and satisfaction from your own internal desires and goals, you start looking for some other way to get your fix so to speak. Meaning you’re finding something or more often, someone to fill that void.
Build More Trust
Neediness is a killer of attraction in a relationship mostly because of a lack of trust.
It is distrust (leading to paranoia sometimes) that strengthens the problem. What’s happening is that someone feels that they need someone else in their life. They also feel insecure and that they’re not good enough. Those two combine to create distrust, because someone thinks that they’ll leave you as soon as they’re not with you and find pretty much anyone else.
Which is why people show behavior as wanting to be with someone 24/7 and texting them constantly.
Building trust is something that takes time and consistency. I could write entire articles on building trust, but that would be too much for now. For starters, begin with being open and honest yourself meaning: stop the lies (even the little white ones), talk openly about how you feel, show you trust them and things like that.
Showing trust, being open and being vulnerable leads to others being more open as well.
However, the most important part of trust is what happens inside of you. One thing you can do is think back to all the times when you assumed the worst out of distrust and nothing happened. You may have a single experience that caused distrust, but when you think about it, you probably have 236 experiences where your trust was not violated.
Moreover, that negative experience might have been with a completely different person.
That should give you a better perspective.
Quit Social Media
Note that this is just a duct tape method.
Know that if social media is a problem for you, it is NOT the problem. It’s just a symptom of your real problem(s), which I described above. So by quitting social media, you’re not actually solving your issue, you are just changing your environment a little bit. It’s running away from the problem rather than solving it.
That said, it can help you feel better at least.
If you want to stop wasting your time on social media, check out this guide.
There is a lot that you’re doing on social media that is caused by your neediness while at the same time reinforcing it. Posting on it and then getting attached to the damn number of likes trains your mind to seek validation from others. Stalking your partner further develops your paranoia. Stalking a crush is fucking desperate and reinforces the idea you need someone else to feel happy!
All of which can be devastating, so take a detox from it altogether!
Start Living Today!
There is a famous quote from Tony Robbins:
There is one small detail he left out…
That is the fact that for most people this quote is bullshit, yourself (most likely included)! Your past does equal your future because you’re constantly living in the past! You’re hanging on to what has happened and what you cannot change! You’re clinging to people that have already left your damn life!
You are unable to create a better future in the present because you’re living in the fucking past!
Let that sink in for a moment.
Living in the past like this is a terrible mindset to be in and one that only causes misery! Start actually living your fucking life in the present moment rather than hanging on to what could have been and you’ll live a way happier life!
Be Willing to Accept Help
I firmly believe that any problem you created in your mind can be solved by your own mind!
You are both the problem and the solution.
However, it is very well possible that you are so deep in your own shit that you don’t see a way out, in which case looking for help is a pretty darn good solution. Think of it as being stuck inside a maze and having someone look at it from above to guide you.
You’re going to have to take the steps yourself, but others can guide you in what those steps are.
Next Steps in Overcoming Neediness
Let’s be real here:
Chances are that right now, you feel like you’ve just been hit by a truck filled with information. You may feel overwhelmed after reading all this and don’t know where to start at all. So where do you start with overcoming neediness?
If there are parts of this guide on how to overcome neediness are unclear or you don’t understand them, go and reread those. Reread the entire 5000 words if you have to, Like I said before you cannot solve a problem you don’t understand! So start there.
Next, look at your life and the symptoms of neediness.
The crucial steps you need to take are to first identify what patterns and symptoms you have and follow. Once you know that, you need some introspection to figure out what is going on in your head. Why are you being so damn needy?
And finally, if you want to overcome neediness, work on your flaws with the right methods I’ve taught you.
And that’s how to overcome neediness.
It won’t be clean, it’s going to be ugly.
It won’t be easy, but you can do it.