Caitlin was mortified. The reason? The guy she had been seeing for the past few months had tarred her with the one of dating’s more humiliating brushes. She had been tarred as needy. Over breakfast, we all bit on our fists as we prepared ourselves for the embarrassing story to unfold. Preparing for a tale of Fatal Attraction proportions, we all feared the worst. What came was slightly anti climactic. “I asked him if he was still seeing other women”. Oh. “He told me to stop being so needy”. Hmm. “I think I blew it”. Right. Was it my imagination or was Caitlin’s question to her beau residing in the field of …. perfectly rational?
Neediness, in both men and women, as a characteristic, is a well known source of ridicule, embarrassment and fear:
Feeling like you have to constantly be there to prop someone else’s ego up is draining at the best of times, and we have all borne witness to incidents of partners carpet bombing their wearier halves with texts, emails, phone calls, pigeons and every other form of communication at one’s disposal. But is asking whether a relationship is exclusive or not a needy crime? Is asking whether someone is looking for a potential relationship a needy crime? Is expecting someone to be interested in the potential of a relationship before you sleep with them a needy crime? More than once I’ve heard people use the phrase, “Don’t worry. I’m not expecting a relationship” as if to ease the other person’s mind, or to appear uber cool, and low maintenance. I’ve felt that pressure myself, and realised that not honouring my needs, even if they’re at odds with the other person’s, has never led to anything other than heartache.
My cousin Martin threw another perspective into the mix. He announced that if he felt his wife Sue didn’t need him, the relationship would fall apart. Even in such simple terms as fixing a fence, or massaging her stresses away, all these things made Martin feel needed, and like The Don in his world.
It could be that we have an overactive pride-o-meter, but being branded ‘needy’ can produce heart palpitations of shame. And both sides of the gender fence can attest to the fact that feeling responsible for someone else’s self esteem can turn the attraction stakes to Power Level 0. However, is the word needy too often used to fend off the fact that sometimes men and women have perfectly reasonable, perfectly understandable, and perfectly natural needs?