If you were drawn to this post, I would be willing to bet that someone you care about has told you that you are too needy, too sensitive, or something along those lines. Or you may have been trying to find the kind of love and support in relationships that you need and struggling to find it. This may have caused you to start wondering if you are being too needy and if you should lower your standards or expectations.
I’ve been digging into attachment theory lately, and I stumbled upon a quote last night that really resonated with me. So much so that I still had it popping up in my head this morning, and I felt compelled to share. First I want to give you some context from the book, Attached.
Chapter 2, where I found the quote I want to share, resonated with me so much. For a long time I had started to believe that I was too emotional and too needy. I thought that I needed to work on myself to gain better control over my emotional needs and learn how to self-soothe rather than expect to receive emotional support from a partner. There is a relationship between two people described in this chapter that aligns with this same mindset.
Attachment theory teaches us that when we become attached to a person that we care deeply about, our brain becomes wired to try to establish connection with that person. They become our “secure base” and the person that we turn to in times of need as an emotional anchor. This is especially true in times of stress. If we are anxious or needing emotional support, we will seek that out from our partner. If they don’t give us the reassurance or support that we need, that programming will cause us to continue trying to establish that connection and closeness.
Current culture is riddled with the same mindset that I described from my own experience and the example from the book. You see it all the time in the self-help industry where people claim you need to love yourself and learn to be completely independent. To not need anyone before you go out and find a partner. So you go down the self-help rabbit hole trying to “fix” yourself because you see your needs and emotionality as a problem to be solved.
I do think it is important to love yourself, have your own life, continue to grow, and be content on your own. That said, it is natural for us to still want and need support from a partner. In the book they refer to this as the “dependency paradox”. This essentially means that though we are meant to have happy lives independent of one another in our relationships, we will actually become happier and even more independent when we have a supportive partner that we can count on by our side.
So are you really too needy? Too sensitive? Too emotional?
Probably not. Instead, you likely have needs that are not currently being met by – or are in conflict with – your partner. This is where attachment theory can help, along with other methods of self reflection and inner work. The key is better understanding yourself, your behaviour, what drives your emotions, and how you relate to others.
Attachment principles teach us that most people are only as needy as their unmet needs.Attached. by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
I love this quote because it shows us that we are not broken or “too much”, but rather that we need to deepen our understanding of ourselves, our needs, and how we relate to others. People that fall more on the avoidant side of the theory have completely different views on relationships and intimacy than those on the anxious side, and they have different needs too. If you resonate with this post, you may have more of an anxious attachment style like I have.
If you identify your attachment style, you will be able to learn about how that presents in you within your relationships. Having that awareness will enable you to communicate with your partner more effectively around how you feel and what you need. It also enables you to learn how you might interact with the other attachment styles, which is key if you are in relationship with someone that has a different style from you. You need to be able to understand how they view things and what they need as well.
So in summary, I don’t think anyone is “too much” of anything. Maybe you’re too much for some people, and that is okay. That says more about the other person than it does about you. It says that they are not willing or able to meet your needs, or that they have views and perspectives on relationships that conflict with yours.
That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with either person.
The more you work on yourself and build self awareness, the more easily you will be able to clearly understand and communicate your needs. Those meant for you will make an effort to understand and rise up to meet them. Otherwise, you can set them free with an understanding that it is not about you as a person. I’m not saying it will be easy or that it won’t hurt, because it probably will. It hurts a lot more, for longer, if you try to make it work with someone that has already told you or demonstrated that they will not or cannot meet your needs.
This inner work also enables you to better understand the needs of those closest to you so you can deepen those relationships. If you want others to meet your needs and be that secure base for you, you need to make sure you’re willing to do the same for them. It takes mutual effort and understanding to make any relationship work, and I hope you leave this post knowing that you are worthy of having that type of healthy partnership!