Here’s a fun dichotomy we’ve created in our dating culture: You must do everything on the planet earth in order to seem chill, or you are seen as needy and over-emotional.
And this is a two-way street. Some people truly do harbor unrealistic expectations for their partners. Some are asking for too much and delivering too little. Others are asking for too little and delivering too much.
But in any case, the line between asking for what you want out of a relationship and being a whiny, co-dependent mess has become hopelessly blurred. So it’s time we stopped gaslighting each other and cleared up a few distinctions between what we can classify as reasonable and what we can classify as ‘needy.’
It is never needy to state what you’re looking for.
The dating game is complicated enough as it is. Why throw another wrench in there by failing to be upfront about what you want? Telling someone outright that you are looking for a relationship/fling/fuck buddy/life partner is not a ‘needy’ move. It’s an assertive one – you’re laying your cards on the table, and it’s their choice to match you or fold.
It is needy to expect everyone to be looking for the same thing as you are.
If you’re exclusively a long-term relationship person and you’re angry at a short-term relationship person for refusing to change their ways, you’re imposing your personal needs on them – and deciding that theirs are unimportant. This is – and always will be – unfair. You, too, have the choice to meet them where they’re at or fold it in.
It’s never needy to let someone know what’s not working for you in the relationship.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable, unfulfilled or unhappy in your relationship, it’s never unreasonable to let your partner know. Healthy communication is a cornerstone of healthy relationships – you should never be afraid to openly bring up your needs or desires with the person you’re dating.
It is needy to expect someone to magically know what’s not working for you in the relationship.
Sulking or resorting to passive-aggressive behavior because your partner can’t tell that you need to hear ‘I love you’ a little more often is a disaster waiting to happen. Nobody can read our minds, and if our needs aren’t being met it’s our job to let our partners know – not to assume that they should be able to just tell.
It’s never needy to talk to your partner about making compromises.
In a perfect world, we’d all find someone who has the same quirks, habits and routines as we do – but we don’t live in a perfect world. Relationships require compromise, and talking openly to your partner about which compromises both of you are willing to make is an incredibly healthy practice. One that no relationship can – or should try to – survive without.
It is needy to expect your partner to compromise their core values for the relationship.
Expecting your extroverted partner to abandon their social circle because you aren’t really a people person, or asking your religious partner to abandon their church’s values because you’re an atheist are not reasonable compromises to demand of someone. Compromising small behaviors makes for a functioning relationship but compromising core values makes for a toxic one.
It’s never needy to want to move forward.
Planning for the future is a natural part of being a human being. And wanting to discuss with your partner what your relationship might look like in the future is not a needy or overbearing desire. You don’t have to be 100% aligned in your plans, but it’s not unreasonable to admit that you have them, and that you want (or don’t want) your partner to be a part of them.
It is needy to think you get to set the whole timeline.
It’s entirely possible for two people to be on the same page but be moving at different speeds – and if that’s the case, you need to acknowledge that your partner has a right to their vision of the future just as much as you have a right to yours. A little compromise may be needed on both your behalves to keep the pace – but you certainly don’t get to veto their timeline for the future and replace it entirely with yours.
It is never needy to want to feel loved.
Wanting to feel loved, respected and acknowledged are universal human needs. And if you’re lacking any of those feelings within your relationship, it’s never needy to bring them up. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to figure out how to make each other feel fully appreciated – but we’ll never figure that out if we shy away from talking about it.
It is needy to demand love from someone who didn’t promise it to you.
Wanting to feel loved is universal, but that doesn’t mean you can expect love from anyone you come across. Hating on your fuck buddy for not wanting to meet your mother may be a tad out of line. If you have never discussed your feelings for or relationship to one another, it’s unreasonable to expect that the other person is naturally on the same page as you are.
At the end of the day, ‘needy’ people and ’emotionally unavailable’ people are usually just people we’ve slapped labels onto because their values do not align with our own. And if we’d all take a hot second to step back and consider the situation more objectively we’d realize a simple thing – that we’re all just searching for someone whose needs align with our own.
Because the moment our needs become mutual, the more willing we become to fulfill them.
And the more the word ‘needy’ fades from our awareness altogether.