Some of us just can’t help it — we need a bit more attention than the average person. When it comes to maintaining functional relationships that are actually self-serving and make us happy, though, acts of “neediness” or consistent insecurity can get in the way.
But what exactly does it mean to be needy in the first place? According to experts, it’s constantly wanting more from the other person in a relationship. After all, nothing scares off a potentially perfect partner than an overly clingy, suspicious individual. Here are some key indicators that you might be inching a little bit too close to being seen as “too needy.”
1. You constantly question their love for you
If you find yourself repeatedly asking your partner the question, “Do you love me?” you might be headed for trouble. As endearing as it might sound, that’s about as needy as it gets. Of course, you want to hear that they do, in fact, love you, but they have the right to say it of their own accord.
“When, no matter what they do, you never feel secure in the relationship, it might be because the person is cheating on you or uninterested, or you’re being too attention-seeking,” says Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship.
2. You find it hard to make decisions without them
If decisions like choosing a pair of jeans or whether or not you should see a certain band next Friday night are tough calls when your partner’s opinion isn’t factored in, you may be too needy. “This may be a sign that you’re letting your own needs dissolve into the needs of your partner, without any defining clarity between the two,” Celeste Holbrook, Ph.D., sexual health consultant, tells us exclusively. If it feels uncomfortable for you to voice your own feelings or requests, you may need to assess how to detach your worth from their approval.
3. You guilt them into doing things they don’t want to do
If an individual doesn’t want to engage in a specific type of physical activity (this can include sexual activity), and the other person in the relationship continues to persist, it can appear as being needy. If you agreed to this upfront, then you should respect that the other person simply doesn’t want to engage in it and stop asking it of them, Dawn Michael, Ph.D., clinical sexologist, relationship expert, and author of My Husband Won’t Have Sex With Me says. If the subject has never been brought up and is an issue for you, you’ll want to discuss it. However, you don’t want to pressure the person into doing something they’re not comfortable with.
4. You hover over their social media accounts
If you know the password to all their accounts, and you frequently sign in to see what they’re up to — especially if it’s behind their back — you may want to rethink your intentions. The same goes for constant commenting or liking everything they do. While they might enjoy your approval and frequent interactions, it’s healthier for the relationship if you give each other space on social media as well as in life.
5. You constantly change your plans to spend more time with them
If you find yourself doing more than just making a simple schedule to establish time together, you might be going overboard. “Trading other valuable aspects of yourself and your life, like hanging out with friends or partaking in hobbies you enjoy, in order to be with your partner more often, this is a sign that you actually need more space, not less,” Dr. Holbrook says.
6. You expect nothing short of wildly romantic gestures
While over-the-top gestures can be stunningly romantic, if you’re planning these elaborate schemes for your partner every other day, it may be a sign that you’re seeking attention instead of sending a loving signal. Remember that those butterflies you felt when you first met will naturally fade away, and that it’s OK if your partner doesn’t wine and dine you or buy you flowers every week. Try and be rational instead of emotional when it comes to these things, Dr. Holbrook says.
7. You text your partner constantly
Similar to being in physical proximity, the need to be in close proximity to your partner all the time is destructive, Dr. Holbrook explains. You most likely do this because you want to hear how much that person is thinking about you and/or missing you throughout the day, even during work or school hours. But learning how to distance yourself when you both need space will only make the time you do spend together that much richer.
8. You need constant validation
If you get upset when your partner doesn’t rave about the new pair of skinny jeans you just purchased or the funny animal video you shared on your Facebook wall, you may need to reconsider how you’re gaining your value as a person, Dr. Holbrook says. She also adds that “you will always feel a sense of lack if you don’t learn to get your value from your own inner voice.”
9. You frequently surprise them at their work
“I think that if a boundary is established at work then the other person needs to respect that,” Dr. Michael explains. This becomes an even bigger disturbance when the needy person’s partner travels for work, leaving him or her feeling left out of not going. What it really comes down to is choosing to be in a relationship with someone whose work-life balance is acceptable to you. But if you’re with someone who travels for work or has to stay late at the office from time to time (and this has been discussed and agreed upon in the past), then the “needy” person does need to respect that, Dr. Michael says.
10. You always ask what your partner’s thinking and feeling
Space is one of the best things you can give to people in relationships — and that rings true for friends and family, too. “Discovering what makes your partner tick is one thing, but over-asking about their feelings and emotions because you’re looking for validation, or simply to spark a conversation about yourself or your relationship, is a sign that you may be too needy,” Dr. Holbrook says.
11. You force them to jump into a relationship before they’re ready
Rushing into a relationship when both people aren’t completely ready only creates problems for their future as a couple. “Just because you might feel ready to take the plunge, doesn’t mean your partner is ready, so you have to be patient for your relationship’s sake,” Dr. Michael says. “If your expectations seem reasonable and this has never been an issue before for you, then perhaps that person is not relationship material.” You always have to weigh the circumstances.
12. You expect them to change for you
Getting into a relationship and then expecting that the person is going to change to meet your needs is needy. You chose that person for who they are and trying to change them is not productive. In fact, it will most likely lead bigger problems down the road. “Many couples fight about the little things that can be adjusted, but if you’re talking about a bigger issue then either you’ve chosen the wrong person or you need to change your expectations,” Dr. Michael explains.
13. You feel like you need them around you every second
It’s undoubtedly romantic to feel like you’ll never, ever get sick of someone — especially in the beginning of a relationship — but remember to consider that the other person might feel differently. “You should be able to do your acts of daily living with or without your partner,” Dr. Holbrook says. “If you’re feeling like they need to be by your side 24/7, it’s time to learn some independence.” You will ultimately feel much more confident and much more attractive if you learn how to cope and handle life solo.
14. You constantly want to call them and hear their voice
Wanting to talk to someone every hour on the hour is a bit much. “It’s important to always be respectful of the other person’s boundaries,” Dr. Michael says. “Remember that some people need more space than others, so constant calling — either just to say hi or to actually communicate something important — can make the other partner feel claustrophobic.” Try to find a balance of communication that works for you both, and be sure to establish a schedule that feels comfortable.
15. You never feel like you can trust your partner
This type of behavior may very well stem from the fact that you have a justifiable reason to distrust them. For instance, if you think (or know) they’re cheating on you. But it also may be a feeling that you’re carrying over from a previous relationship. “Maybe you come from a broken household or you’ve been cheated on before,” Dr. Holbrook says. “Of course, mistrust is warranted if, in fact, you think there’s something going on, but if you’re freaking out when your partner’s a couple minutes late or out with friends, you might be a bit too clingy.” Try giving your partner some room to be themselves and trust that they have your best intentions in mind.
16. You get frustrated when they’re distracted by anything but you
Whether it’s a phone call from his mom or an innocent round of video games, if you’re feeling insecure when he’s locked into an activity that has little or nothing to do with you, “needy” just might be your middle name. If you are noticing this type of behavior, a good strategy is to question what, specifically, your partner is doing that’s making you feel less “sought after.” If it is, indeed, something silly, you can try to calm yourself down, or even distract yourself with an activity or hobby.
17. You’ll do almost anything to please them
If you’re feeling so desperate for attention that nothing is off-limits so long as your partner is happy, think twice about the values you hold dear. An example could be going up to his apartment on the first date when you’re not comfortable, only because you’re afraid to disappoint him, or going along with anything he suggests, from movies to restaurants. You’re entitled to your own opinion about things — and if your partner’s a good person, he will be happy that you can stand your ground.
18. You’re afraid to take opportunities for fear they’ll leave you
If an exciting career or personal opportunity comes your way — for example, studying abroad or taking a job a few hundred miles away from home — and you’re too afraid to take it based upon your relationship status, you might be too dependent on your partner. Life is so much sweeter because of these sometimes once-in-a-lifetime chances we get. Consider having a serious conversation about the future of your relationship before you say no to something that could change your life for the better.