Being needy is a story of my life. Feeling like you always need to get your partner’s time, attention, and reassurance. Constantly.
It is exhausting for you and suffocating for them.
Eventually, you never feel satisfied with what they give you, and they feel pressured to always be there for you. To become your everything, really.
But knowing you’re needy is the first step of healing and getting back to the normal balance in the relationship. When one gives and takes pretty much the same amount as the other.
So, how do you know if you’re being needy? Can you ask your partner to help you with that? More importantly, how can you help yourself to approach it in a healthier way?
Let me share the 14 signs of a needy person with you and some more tips on how to overcome this state of mind.
14 signs you’re overly needy for affection
1) You incessantly seek validation
No one is free of doubts and insecurities. It’s just human nature.
Asking for validation and appreciation from your partner is totally normal. I’m a fairly insecure person myself—I know what you’re going through, trust me.
But doing it too often and too intensely can be exhausting for your partner.
Eventually, they might feel frustrated that they’re not doing enough for you, even if they’re doing your best.
It’s something I didn’t even realize until I broke up with my first boyfriend.
It’s unhealthy if your partner’s compliments and opinions of you are your main source of self-esteem. That should come from within you first and foremost.
2) You’re desperate for constant reassurance
If you’re always asking for validation, then you’re probably also asking for constant reassurance.
Do you regularly blurt out things like…
- “I’m so ugly;”
- “I’m not good enough for you;”
- “What if we’re not meant to be?”
…as a way to elicit reassurance from your partner?
Then they’ll say something like:
- “No, you’re not! You’re the most beautiful to me:”
- “You’re all I ever wanted;”
- “I believe we’re made for each other.”
But soon enough, you’ll be asking for reassurance about your attractiveness, their loyalty, or their love for you once again.
And it never stops. Because as much as your partner gives you reassurance, they’re ultimately just band-aid solutions to a much deeper problem.
3) You overprioritize your partner
Doing so erases your sense of self-identity because your life revolves around your partner. It’s almost as if it’s defined by your partner.
While the whole “I want to be with you all the time!” thing can be cute at first, remember that your partner fell in love with you as an individual and the life you led before them.
I understand that you might be trying your best to please your partner. But it’s absolutely crucial to have a life outside of them too.
4) You lack boundaries with them
Because you overprioritize your partner, you become too accommodating of them. It may even get to a point where you are sacrificing your own needs and wants just to meet every single one of theirs.
Or to a point where you are being manipulated, abused, and taken advantage of—even if you clearly know what’s happening.
And I don’t want that for you, right? So tell me…
Do you always cancel plans with your friends just to take care of something they should’ve done themselves?
Do you always agree to sex even if you’re completely not in the mood?
Do you spend money on them in the blink of an eye?
Girl, if you answered “yes” to at least 2 out of 3…you need to rethink your choices.
Because being unable to establish and maintain boundaries is a serious side-effect of being too needy.
5) You think you’re all they need
Thinking that their life should be all about you is also a sign of neediness.
Do you feel like your partner should always prioritize you?
Do you feel like you can provide for all their social, emotional, and entertainment needs?
Do you feel upset when they set boundaries with you?
If you think all you need is each other or that you should have the right to everything in their life, you may have an overly idealistic or romantic view of love.
I knew I definitely had such a view during my first relationship.
6) You’re always jealous
You know what’s probably causing you to think that you’re all they need? Jealousy.
If you think this way, you probably have difficulty letting your partner spend time alone with their family and other friends. You want almost all their time and energy to be devoted to you.
Either that, or you’re way too controlling about their social life. Here are just some of the many things extreme jealousy might cause you to do:
- Not allowing them to be friends with other members of their preferred sex;
- Incessantly asking for updates when they’re out with friends;
- Or demanding that they should always bring you when they go out
- Thinking that they should share their accounts’ passwords with you;
- Feeling entitled to all their time, energy, and money;
- Feeling jealous of their exes even if they haven’t anything.
Again, some level of jealousy is normal. As the significant other, you want to feel special. But being special does not mean being entitled.
7) You feel depressed when you’re away from each other
Tell me if it sounds about right for you. When they’re away, instead of taking the time to focus on yourself as an individual, you’re constantly texting or calling them about where they are or what they’re doing.
After all, you want to be with them as much as humanly possible. It’s completely normal to miss your partner, but acting like this can be suffocating for them.
Feeling emptiness and not knowing what to do when your partner isn’t by your side is a strong side of neediness.
8) You have issues with self-worth
Do you always need validation? It’s because validating yourself isn’t enough.
Do you always feel the need to prioritize your partner’s needs and wants over your own? You might subconsciously think too little of yourself that you always compromise your needs.
Feel entitled to all your partner’s time and energy? It might be because you feel insecure that your partner might leave you for someone supposedly better.
When it comes to fixing issues. It’s always essential to know their root causes.
9) You rush things in a relationship
If you’re in a newer relationship and have a tendency to rush things, this can also be a sign of over-neediness. I mean, if you’ve only gone on a handful of dates but you’re already talking or thinking about…
- Marriage and kids;
- Meeting each other’s families;
- Moving in together;
- Getting super physical immediately.
Then you’re definitely rushing it. Here’s why you’re doing it.
The light, preliminary flirting of a young relationship just isn’t enough to satiate your neediness.
Instead, you’re desperate for the more frequent and more intense expressions of affection that are usually only reserved for longer, more serious relationships.
However, moving too quickly in the relationship is actually counter-productive. You’re not allowing yourselves the time and space for your love for each other to grow authentically.
10) You think they should be able to read your mind
People who are too needy for affection are often anxious—especially about being neglected by those they love.
They have very particular needs when it comes to attention and affection. They often want their partner to know just exactly how and how often they should attend to those needs.
In my experience, this usually isn’t out of malice or an intention to “trap” their partner and find an opportunity to accuse them of not being a good lover. It’s usually out of immaturity.
This study demonstrates this trend and also shows how this can generally lead to other negative patterns when it comes to communication and anger management.
But, as you should know, this is unhealthy for the relationship and unfair to your partner.
11) You feel the need to overshare details about your relationships
Oftentimes, these intense needs just cannot be met by your partner no matter how hard they try. (After all, these needs are quite unhealthy).
This is why some people turn to social media to vent about their relationship issues.
And in my experience, the people who do this are also the ones to frequently post-romantic, intimate photos with their partners.
So their timeline will be a confusing mix of complaining about their relationship but also celebrating it.
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
The positive posts reflect the idealized version of the relationship they have in their heads. But the complaints reflect the unhealthy reality that they are likely at least partially responsible for.
12) You stalk your partner’s friends and exes on social media
If you’re active on social media in the way stated above, then you’re probably also actively stalking your partner’s friends and exes.
Out of anxiety and jealousy, you constantly check their profiles for any signs that your partner might be cheating on you with them.
You might even be demanding your partner’s passwords so you can read their messages.
Doing so damages the trust between the two of you—something essential for a truly healthy relationship. You cannot claim to love your partner if you don’t trust them.
13) You’ve become co-dependent
If you’ve been too needy for too long, you’ll run the risk of being co-dependent on your partner.
You won’t have a life of your own because you rely on your partner for virtually everything. You won’t even remember the feeling of missing each other anymore because you’re always together.
You’ll spend every day together. You have all the same friends. You do the same exact things together. This might sound romantic at first, but it’s actually incredibly unhealthy and suffocating.
In fact, you just might be staying together because you feel like you need to, not because you want to.
That’s not love now, is it?
14) You have unrealistic expectations of your partner
You want your relationship to be picture-perfect. Like the ones in movies or romance novels.
You begin to expect your partner to…
- Read your mind;
- Always be sweet to you;
- Always be available for you;
- To not make any mistakes;
- To not have insecurities and doubts of their own (because they exacerbate yours).
…and a whole host of other unrealistic expectations. When your partner inevitably fails to meet these, you feel disappointed, upset, and resentful toward your partner even if they didn’t do anything wrong.
Trust me, this is a recipe for disaster.
Why are people so needy and clingy?
As we’ve said above, the root cause is often insecurity. People then act clingy and needy to feel more secure.
They keep their partners (or even friends) in incredibly close proximity to minimize the chances of them cheating, neglecting, or abandoning them.
Clinginess and neediness can stem from either childhood experiences or learned adult behaviors. In my experience, they’re actually a chaotic mix of several of these factors.
- Abusive or neglectful parents;
- Helicopter parenting;
- Abandonment issues;
- Inability to deal with being alone;
- Unresolved childhood or teenage trauma;
- No models of secure attachment and proper love.
Adult experiences and behaviors:
- Lack of attention;
- Lack of self-esteem;
- Fear of the future;
- Underdeveloped social skills;
- Lack of life purpose;
- Incomplete self-identity.
How do you define a “needy” person?
Labeling someone as “needy”—or too needy, specifically—is quite subjective. What is “needy” for one person can be completely normal for another.
After all, everyone has needs for regular affection, validation, and reassurance. And these people from different cultures might have different standards. Plus, some people are just naturally more affectionate than others.
For example, here are some behaviors that some see as normal or acceptable while others see as controlling or needy:
- Always wanting to talk (texting, calling, social media activity);
- Unprovoked jealousy;
- Always wanting to see each other;
- Consistently asking for reaffirmations of love;
- Mistaking criticism for hate or lack of love;
- Fishing for compliments;
- Always wanting their partner’s input for decisions;
- Jealousy or disappointment when their partner spends time with others;
- Cycling between optimism and cynicism about the relationship;
- Seeking reassurance even for things outside the relationship.
Here’s my take on it: the main criterion if you’re being too needy is what causes your behavior.
Whenever you seek affection, validation, and reassurance:
Do you usually do it out of a desire to feel loved and connect with your partner?
Or do you typically do it out of anxiety, jealousy, and insecurity?
Now, this might be a hard question to answer. Some people will have a hard time telling the difference between the two, but you need to reflect deeply and answer honestly.
If it’s the latter, then you’re probably being too needy and are likely doing it too often and too strongly. Also, consider if your partner is trying but still feels suffocated and exhausted.
But if it’s the former, then you’re probably okay. And your partner will often be willing to give you that validation, affection, and reassurance because they want to make you feel loved too!
…it’s also possible that you’re doing it in a healthy way, but your partner still feels suffocated. In my experience, this is fairly rare, however.
If this is the case, then maybe you just have different needs and wants. This means that you’re just sadly romantically incompatible.
How can I stop being too needy?
The main way you can do this is by determining your attachment style. Knowing your attachment style will allow you to understand why you act the way you do.
Then, you’ll be better equipped to form healthier habits and behaviors.
While psychologists used to think that your attachment style was solely based on your childhood experiences, we now understand it to be the result of a complex interaction of many other factors.
However, aside from determining and working on your attachment style, we’ve listed down seven other strategies that can definitely make a difference.
1) Determining and understanding your attachment style
This is the first thing you should do if you need to be less clingy and needy. After all, this clinginess and neediness stem from your attachment style and how you might take your style too far.
Attachment styles are based on the Adult Attachment Theory created in the 1950s by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth.
In short, your attachment style is how you interact and develop bonds with your loved ones. It is the result of your childhood experiences with your parents in addition to other factors.
There are 4 major attachment styles, and we’ll give you a succinct description of all of them below.
This is the healthiest attachment style. Typically, people who had parents or caretakers who were available, present, and able to meet their needs grow up to have secure attachment styles.
As the name implies, people who have secure attachment styles are secure in their relationships. They are able to deal with their insecurities and temper their jealousy, enabling them to generally be less “needy.”
Broadly speaking, this allows them to truly love their partners in healthy ways.
As you might have guessed, people with avoidant attachment styles tend to avoid people. They’re typically emotionally unavailable and distant, and they have difficulty being vulnerable and intimate with others.
In fact, this actually makes them the opposite of clingy or needy. Rather, they tend to attract clingy people instead.
When a clingy partner tries to become closer to their avoidant partner, the avoidant partner tends to withdraw. The clingy partner is then further incentivized to pursue the avoidant partner (because people tend to want what they can’t have!). A vicious cycle is then created.
Also called the ambivalent attachment style, people who develop this style usually had unavailable caregivers as a child.
Generally, they feel anxious about their loved ones abandoning or leaving them.
They often doubt people’s love and appreciation of them. Thus, they’re stereotypically the needy or clingy type as they often want reassurance to remedy their anxiety.
People who have traumatic childhood experiences or had chaotic, unpredictable experiences with their parents or caregivers tend to grow into adults with disorganized attachment styles.
This attachment style is also called “fearful-avoidant” and can somewhat be considered a mix of anxious and avoidant. While they want to develop close bonds with people, they’re also quite fearful and might retreat when faced with intimacy.
That’s why they’re called disorganized: they’re inconsistent. Sometimes they’re avoidant, sometimes they’re anxious. But they’re usually both!
An important disclaimer
After reading the past section, people might think that only people with anxious styles can be needy or clingy.
This is not necessarily always the case! It’s not as simple as that.
Remember that this is just a psychological theory. These four types are not boxes in which you can neatly put people. Human psychology is incredibly complex, after all.
We’re all human (and so were our parents!). We all have insecurities and can have unhealthy habits and behavior. If anything, I personally believe we all exist in a spectrum of these four attachment styles.
No one has a perfectly secure attachment style in the same vein that I don’t believe anyone is hopelessly anxious that they’re always going to be a needy partner no matter what.
It’s true that people with anxious styles tend to be the ones that are too needy. But people of all attachment styles can be needy in one way or another, at some time or another.
Knowing and understanding your attachment style is crucial, but it is only the first step to becoming a less needy partner! Here are other further steps you can choose to take in becoming a better, more secure partner.
2) Have an “us vs. the problem” approach instead of a “you vs. me” one
Perspective is everything.
If you keep seeing your partner as someone you should “win over” (like, say, in an argument), then trust me, you’ll get nowhere.
Instead, you should be a team who is trying to tackle the problem together. This is an infinitely better approach.
A technique I love is referring to yourselves as a plural unit—”we”—instead of focusing on yourself (“me”).
For example, when you’re seeking reassurance instead of saying:
You don’t love me, do you?
Say this instead:
We still love each other, right?
The first one puts some pressure on your partner. While the second asks for reassurance while also expressing love. Essentially, you’re not just putting all the emotional responsibility of the relationship on your partner, but on both of you.
Similarly, focus more on your needs (“I”) than the flaws you perceive in your partners (“you”).
You’re so clingy and needy!
I need you to believe me when I tell you I love you.
Language is powerful. Trust me; it makes a massive difference.
3) Seek professional help
Sometimes, however, there’s only so much you can do yourself.
And that’s okay! Relationships really are tough. That’s why there are relationship coaches, people specifically trained to actually handle these sorts of interpersonal problems.
I, too, was doubtful of just how legit these relationship coaches were. But I have zero regrets about trying them out.
Yes, very few of them actually say something unique or helpful.
But Relationship Hero is one of those few exceptions. They’re one of the most reputable sites for relationship coaching because they’re made up of actual professionals, highly trained to help you tackle even the most complicated of issues.
In fact, being too needy is one of the most common issues they face. And while they’ve encountered this problem countless times, they are still able to delve deep into the core issues of the unique situations people are in, ultimately helping them save their relationships.
And that’s why I love them: they sincerely want to help and take the time to come up with tailor-made solutions to your problems instead of spouting generic advice with zero empathy.
Plus, it’s so easy and accessible. It only takes a few minutes to speak to someone.
4) Have a life of your own
The idea of sharing everything in life might sound romantic for young adults, but such codependency is not only toxic but also impractical.
Especially having the same exact friend groups and hobbies. If every aspect of your social life heavily involves your partner, you will not grow as a couple and as an individual.
You need your own social circles to have a separate life outside your partner. You’re limiting your life experiences by not doing so.
You will eventually get tired of each other, and you don’t want that. The saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is very true.
You both need ample and regular amounts of time and space away from each other, not only for the relationship but also for both of your individual mental health.
5) Take social media with a (huge) pinch of salt
Even better? Take a nice long break from it. I just had a social media detox last month, and it was so refreshing.
Countless studies show the various negative effects social media can have on our mental health.
We’re constantly bombarded with:
- Fake or curated snapshots of the lives of wealthy people;
- Faces with filters;
- Photoshopped bodies;
- The best highlights of other people’s lives.
The lives they portray are unrealistic and unattainable for the vast, vast majority of us. Immersing yourself in the fake, curated world of social media can worsen your insecurities and therefore make you even needier.
Plus, you’ll always be tempted to stalk your partner’s exes and friends. Or constantly police your partner’s online interactions.
It’ll only fuel your suspicions, paranoia, and anxiety—even if your partner has not given you any reason to feel that way.
Do yourself (and your partner) a favor and take a social media break. You might find yourself noticeably less insecure, needy, and controlling even after just a few days off.
6) Accept the uncertainties of life
Now, this point might be a bit counterintuitive but hear me out.
Here’s the truth: if your partner wants to cheat, then they’ll cheat. If they want to leave you, then they’ll leave.
Your partner can and probably will hurt you, in one way or another, intentionally or unintentionally.
And you won’t be able to do anything about it!
But that’s the point of loving someone! You love them because you trust them. Because you want to go through life’s challenges with them.
My volleyball coach once told me: you need to give yourself permission to lose in order to gain the confidence to win.
In the same vein, you need to trust your partner and learn to live with that uncertainty. If it is constantly on your mind, you will be anxious and paranoid all the time. You’ll be needy all the time, further jeopardizing the relationship.
7) Try couple’s therapy
While it is ultimately your responsibility to help yourself, a loving partner would also be willing to help in ways they can.
That’s why couples therapy can be extremely valuable even if only one person has issues.
By engaging in couples therapy, your partner will know the steps you’re taking to get better. And with that, they’ll also know how they can be involved in that process.
Plus, you’ll also just generally better understand your dynamic as a couple and how you can improve it to tailor it to the needs and wants of both of you!
This is another thing Relationship Hero is extremely adept at. They have experts for individuals as well as therapists for couples.
Part of their staff’s training is to analyze not just a person’s individual psychology properly but how a couple’s psychologies interact with one another. By doing so, they’re able to give deep insights into your unique dynamic as a couple.
They’re able to understand where each person is coming from, even if the couple is in serious conflict with one another. Then, they’re able to facilitate reconciliation and healing.
So whether you decide to go to individual relationship coaching or couples therapy, Relationship Hero has you covered with experts in both.
What counts as needy, and what doesn’t?
If you’re still not sure if your behavior counts as needy, consider your past relationships aside from your current one:
- Have you acted similarly in all your relationships?
- Is your behavior motivated by the same thoughts and emotions?
- What were your previous partners’ attachment styles?
- Did you experience abuse, manipulation, or infidelity?
Each relationship is unique. You’ll have different dynamics with different partners who also have different personalities.
So what may seem needy in one relationship might not seem so in another.
For example, my sister’s husband is a construction worker—a somewhat dangerous job. So it’s just natural for her to be quite concerned and text him how he is several times throughout the day,
Or let’s say you’re with a partner with an avoidant attachment style. Because they’re more averse to emotional vulnerability and expressions of affection, your behavior might come across as “needy” to them even if it won’t for the vast majority of people.
So once again, being “needy” is quite subjective.
Determine what level of clinginess is healthy for you and compatible with your partner.
I have a needy partner. Help!
It can be difficult and exhausting if your partner is needy despite your best efforts to reassure and validate them. Or even if you have different attachment styles.
It’s paramount that you be open to each other about all three of these things:
- Your needs;
- Your expectations;
- Your boundaries.
While you should help your partner fulfill their needs, you are also entitled to your own boundaries. Emphasize this firmly but kindly.
Then, tell them that you understand where they are coming from. Tell them that you love to help them get through unresolved trauma or internal struggles that might be fueling their behavior.
Encourage them to open up about such things.
However, this requires them to acknowledge that their behavior is unhealthy and might have deeper underlying causes in the first place. (If they don’t, why don’t you send them this article?)
They also need to know that you will be as empathetic as you can with them—but they also need to be kind and empathetic to you.
If they are open to it, encourage them to get help. Or suggest that you go to couples therapy together. That might be a less daunting option since you’re going together.
Finally, let them know that you want nothing else but the relationship’s success and that is the main reason you’re doing what you’re doing.
Don’t leave! (just yet)
It’s completely normal to be insecure and anxious at times since we’re all human. A healthy relationship requires consistent affection, reassurance, and validation from both sides.
However, too much of anything is always a bad thing. Being overly needy and clingy can suffocate your partner and be detrimental to your relationship.
I hope that this article helped you understand the underlying mechanisms behind your own or your partner’s needy behavior.
While every situation is unique and the issue won’t be fixed, consistently employing the tips I’ve listed above can make significant differences.
Most times, neediness stems from self-esteem issues. Thus, it’s crucial to learn how to spend time with yourself. Both you and your partner need and deserve a flourishing life outside of each other.
Finally, trust and believe your partner. If they do cheat or leave you (knock on wood), then that is not a reflection on you, but of them!
Essentially, the key here is to practice self-love. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t truly love someone else without loving yourself first.