Needy people: 6 things they do (and how to deal with them)

Know someone that is in constant need of approval, attention, and praise?

Then you might be dealing with a needy person.

While all of us have needs, particularly socially, needy people struggle to control these needs and become overbearing for the people around them.

According to couples therapist Julie Nowland, neediness is a range of behaviors that centers around the belief: “I am unable to see my worth, and I need you to make me feel better about myself and my world.”

In this article, we’re going to go through 6 behaviors of needy people, and then we’ll discuss how you can deal with them.

1) They need to be around people all of the time.

You may be dealing with someone who is very needy if you find that they can’t be alone for a long period of time.

They feel the urge to be around people to feel happy and entertained. Aside from also being an extrovert (someone who derives their energy from other people), they could also be a needy person.

According to Marcia Reynolds Psy.D., in Psychology Today, one of the main reasons people tend to be needy is that social needs fuel our drive to “connect with others and succeed.”

After all, Reynolds suggests that “your needs emerge from your ego identity, which was formed based on what you discovered would help you survive and thrive.”

It’s likely that needy people subconsciously believe that being around other people all the time is crucial to their survival.

And to the extent, they’re right, but perhaps they’re just being a bit over-zealous about it.

Obviously, his isn’t a bad thing if they surround themselves with people who also want to be around a lot of other people all the time, but it can be a problem if they are hanging out with the wrong people who just want to be left alone.

So try to cut them some slack. We all have social needs, and they might just have more needs in that area than yourself.

2) They need others to approve of what they are doing.

Needy people generally ask a lot of others, so if they are always running ideas by friends or family members before they do anything, it might be that they are, in fact, needy.

It’s not the end of the world though, this is just a confidence issue.

According to Beverly D. Flaxington in Psychology Today needy people often struggle to make connections with others, so when they do meet someone they can connect with, they tend to hold on tightly:

“Some who have been hurt before don’t have the easiest time making new connections, so when they do find someone they can trust and rely on, they might end up clinging too tightly to their new relationship for the fear of being hurt or left alone again.”

Támara Hill, MS, LPC in Psych Central says that needy individuals will “strive, at the cost of their own self-worth, to be accepted by others in some way.”

This can result in needy people acting in ways they typically wouldn’t.

What needy people don’t tend to understand is that it’s not really possible to be liked by everyone, and it’s a goal that will likely leave them very unfulfilled.

We don’t need to please everyone all the time.

3) They ask the opinion of others before making decisions.

A person’s neediness might shine through when they are faced with having to make a decision.

If they are looking to everyone but themselves to tell them what to do, it could be that they are trying to make sure that they aren’t going to let anyone down.

It might also be due to the fact that they don’t trust themselves and need others to tell them how to act or direct their choices.

Then, if they turn out to be wrong in your pursuits, they can blame other people for having influencing that decision.

Not only do they get to play the victim in the story, but they get to claim ignorance about what happened as well.

Again, at the heart of attachment theory is the assumption that every human being has a basic, primary drive to connect and to feel like they are part of a social group.

When someone has a hard time making a decision, it may directly point to the fact that they fear to make the wrong decision on behalf of the group, which may lead to rejection.

As we mentioned earlier, this may be because they were rejected as a child.

Craig Malkin Ph.D. explains in Psychology Today:

“The anxiously attached lack any faith that emotional closeness will endure because they were often abandoned or neglected as children, and now, as adults, they frantically attempt to silence the “primal panic” in their brain by doing anything it takes to keep connection.”

4) They need others to say they are right.

Needy people have a unique ability to prove themselves right. If they can’t be wrong, it might be that they are a needy person.

Even when they know they’re dead wrong, do they still work to prove some element of their debate correct?

This is because they will lose confidence in themselves if others know they are wrong. It’s a pride thing.

5) They need to be front and center.

Neediness plagues us all from time to time and there’s nothing wrong with needing to lean your head on someone’s shoulder for care and compassion.

But if that’s their deal 24/7 and they seem to have run out of said shoulders to cry on, they might need to look at what you are doing to drive people out of their life.

According to Beverly D. Flaxington in Psychology Today, some needy people become so overbearing that you can’t possibly give them all the time attention they crave:

“You may have a person whose neediness seems to have no end. No matter how much you comfort them or support them, the well never seems to be filled.”

If they need to be the center of attention all of the time, it’s time to reflect on why that is and do some work to improve their outlook and interactions with others.

It’s not a curse and it can be reversed so that they can not only turn to people during their times of need, but they can also be there for people who may need their help as well.

If they are the ones always looking to be rescued, it’s time for an attitude adjustment.

Start by offering help to other people and then take it one day at a time and recognize when they are just letting themselves be the victim.

Because a needy person needs to realize that if you force yourself to be the center of attention of everything, then you inevitably push people away.

6) They are very jealous

If you’ve ever dated a needy person, you may have noticed that they were incredibly jealous whenever you spoke to someone who was the opposite sex.

According to psychologist Nicole Martinez in Bustle:

“People who are jealous and insecure will tend to cling to their partner as a means of keeping a closer eye on them.”

Part of this obviously has something to do with insecurity as well. Perhaps they fear that they’re not good enough for their partner, or they don’t fully trust their partner.

The problem is that when someone is jealous they tend to act rather illogically, which can be a difficult burden to deal with if you’re dating a needy person that is jealous

Bustle explains why jealousy really doesn’t allow for logic:

“Jealousy may be a powerful emotion but it’s not one that allows for logic. When you’re in a jealous fog, you don’t think clearly, you don’t express yourself well, and, to get real hippy-dippy with this noise, you aren’t in the moment relating with other people, and that sucks.”

It’s important to keep in mind that emotionally stable people can also engage in the above behaviors. The above signs should only signify a needy person if they are consistent over a significant amount of time.

Also, sometimes it’s important to recognize the person you’re dealing with isn’t needy in terms of their personality, but it may be the dynamic of your relationship. For example, if you’re the boss, then it’s likely that they will crave your approval so they can get a promotion.

How to deal with a needy person

Whether you’ve just survived your first run-in with a needy person or you’ve been trying to ward off a certain someone for years now, you need a strategy for making this kind of relationship work.

You’ve probably noticed that the needy person in your life is mostly a “taker” and they don’t have much room left in their lives for helping you out of binds, dealing with your issues, or even just offering a kind word now and then.

If you’ve decided to support this person, or even just allow them to be in your life just a little bit, then you’ll need to set some rules, give yourself plenty of space away from them, and remember to put your needs ahead of theirs.

If you are dealing with a needy person, here’s how you can handle them and make sure you take care of you first.

1) Be clear about what is acceptable.

When you are dealing with a needy person, you need to be very clear about how much time and energy you can exert on them and their needs.

Even if you’ve just met someone and you recognize that they are going to be a big-time suck for you, but you still want to be friends with them anyway, you need to make sure that you don’t let them cross lines or put you in any compromising situations.

According to Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT, you need to fight against their power and assert your own area and needs when dealing with a narcissist. I’m not saying needy people are narcissists, but I do believe that this useful advice for dealing with needy people as well.

She says to use verbal put-downs that demand respect and push your mind to the forefront, such as:

“I won’t talk to you if you…”
“Maybe. I’ll consider it.”
“I don’t agree with you.”
“What did you say to me?”
“Stop or I will leave.”

Don’t go beyond your beliefs or make you do things you wouldn’t normally do so that they can feel better.

It’s important that you outline what this person can and can’t do. There will come a time when you may have to sit with them and explain these boundaries, but for now, set them in your own mind and make sure you stick to them.

2) Give yourself space when you need it.

Dealing with a needy person, you need to give yourself time and space to come back down from having to deal with them.

What you’ll find throughout all of this is that you’ll be exhausted from having to deal with a needy person.

They will take everything you have and it’ll be important that you give yourself time to recoup and recharge your own batteries.

The key, according to Beverly D. Flaxington in Psychology Today, is to have an honest conversation:

“Tell them that you would like to help, but the two of you need to establish some boundaries in order to maintain your relationship.”

It might seem selfish, especially if your needy friend isn’t doing well on their own, but in order to show up for them, you need to take care of you.

As your relationship continues, you’ll have to be clear about when you can and can’t help and don’t overexert yourself for their sake.

You can’t fill someone else’s cup from an empty jug.

3) Recognize that you can’t change this person.

One thing that you might find yourself doing is trying to help your needy friend or family member beyond the call of duty, which only makes matters worse.

You are not responsible for changing their life and you cannot take on the responsibility of trying to make them less needy.

And anyway, evidence is a little controversial concerning whether people can change personality traits.

I believe that people certainly can become less needy and clingy. But that’s about developing security and confidence within themselves.

The reason I advise to not try and “change someone” is because it’s extremely difficult to do, especially if you’re not a trained therapist.

As we mentioned before, you need to look out for yourself and be honest with them. You don’t want to extend yourself further than you can.

You can help them and offer them insight, but don’t get caught up in the drama that is their lives.

They might have always been like this or they might have just started showing signs of neediness, but whatever their history, you can’t take them on as a project.

It distracts you from your own life and needs.

4) Agree to disagree.

If there’s one thing that’s true about dealing with a needy person, it’s that they will want you to agree with them on everything because they need to be right.

Even if you know they are wrong, they’ll want you to agree with them. As part of your boundary setting, you’ll need to just agree to disagree with them.

I believe that it’s not your job to correct them or educate them on things. You’ll find it hard to let things slide, but you don’t have to set them straight.

5) Put yourself first.

Dealing with a needy person is going to take a lot out of you.

Even if you decide that you no longer want them in your life, the transition away from them is going to be difficult.

The residual effect of needy people runs deep and it makes you feel like you are a bad person for wanting them out of your life.

It’s okay to do what is right for you and make sure you are taking care of your own needs. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the lives of others and take on their drama without even realizing it.

Putting yourself first means that you do what is right for you, even if it means you can’t be friends with this person anymore.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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