You’re ‘Needy': How to Get Your Partner to Respond to You

You’re ‘Needy': How to Get Your Partner to Respond to You
***QUESTION FROM A READER: 

“My biggest frustration in my relationship is that whenever I become even a little needy, I find my partner withdrawing.

“If I point this out, he is sweet and makes an effort but his natural instinct is to withdraw.

“Also, I want more physical affection other than love-making. I find that he is less touchy feely than me.

“How do I make my man more responsive– physically and emotionally?

“It’s important for me to overcome this obstacle so I can give as much as I want without feeling that I too need to withhold in the relationship in order to have more  control/balance–which I know is not healthy because it takes  away from the spontaneity in our relationship.

“Also it makes me feel unloved, which I know is not the case.”

>>>OUR COMMENTS:

If there’s one question we hear over and over, it’s the one our reader asks…

“How do I make my man more responsive– physically and emotionally?”

And although we do hear it occasionally from men, we primarily hear it from women and here’s why…

All the research we’ve read (including our own informal research) suggests that men have had a few handicaps when it comes to being emotionally and physically responsive when it doesn’t involve the act of making love.

Now of course, we’re not talking about ALL men and we’re not making excuses for them.

But because of upbringing, life experiences and what most (if not all) cultures teach what being a man means…

Boys are taught in so many ways NOT to be emotionally and physically responsive in loving ways (as girls are generally taught), especially toward the opposite gender.

Many family cultures reinforce the idea that “too” much physical touch (outside of the “act” itself) and emotion is not the norm and is even unacceptable if you’re going to be part of that “tribe.”

This goes for males and females.

What all of this does is create vast differences in expectations between two people (even same-gender couples) as to what each finds desirable and natural when it comes to sharing themselves with each other in this way.

In other words, one person can be comfortable and actually want a certain level of physical touch and emotional sharing in the relationship–and the other person has a very different level of comfort–even shying away from it.

Is this an impossible situation?

If you’re the one who wants more affection and emotional sharing outside the bedroom, do you just have to accept that you’ll never get it and stay frustrated?

Do you have to keep asking for what you want and constantly feel needy?

Before we answer those questions, we want to talk a little about the idea of  feeling
needy.

If this describes you at times in your relationship (and most of us can relate to feeling needy at sometime in our lives)…

We invite you to take a close look at what happens when you become needy.

Define your brand of neediness.

For right now (we’ll get to your partner later), forget about what he or she is doing or not doing and just focus on you.

What are you telling yourself about your partner or about yourself?

Are these thoughts true?

Do you tell yourself that your partner SHOULD understand what you need?

Do you tell yourself that your partner doesn’t love you, even though you know that he or she does?

What stories are you spinning in your mind at these times? Are they true?

Is it that you’ve had a bad day at work and you want some comfort right now because you feel very alone and unloved?

Is it that something else happened to make you feel not so good about yourself and you want some assurance that you are loved?

What’s your behavior?

Step back and look at yourself and what you do in those times.

Do you call your partner–and keep calling him or her until you get an answer–and then become angry and withdraw because he or she wasn’t available?

Do you withhold in the relationship in order to have more control and balance as our Reader described–and if so, is it working?

If you become “needy,” you NEED something and are expecting someone else to fill that need in a certain way. You need the other person to act in a certain way in order for you to feel good.

How is it that you want the other person to act so you can feel good?

While it would be great if the other person complies and gives you what you want, as our Reader told us, it isn’t satisfying and doesn’t fill her need when he reacts to her request.

She senses that his natural reaction is not to come closer to her in those times and that he’s “sweet” (translate that to wants to please her) but it’s not what she wants.

The problem with neediness is that the other person’s reaction to it is NEVER what we want.

The other person either withdraws, gets angry or tries to satisfy the need but somehow fails miserably and it’s not good enough.

So what can you do if you’re stuck in this type of situation?

Is it hopeless?

Here are some ideas…

1. Take a breath and stop yourself from doing what you normally would do when you feel needy.

Get to the real cause of your feelings.

Find out what you “need” in that moment and really look within to see if you might be able to fill that need yourself in some other way. If your neediness is brought on by untrue thoughts and stories you’re telling yourself, then be honest with yourself and change those stories.

Reaching toward someone else for love and comfort out of neediness can be like reaching for chocolate, ice cream or alcohol in times of stress.

We THINK the comfort, the touching, the chocolate will help ease whatever is going on–and it may for a very short time–but in the long run, it doesn’t.

The only thing that really DOES help is dealing honestly with a situation–and that means looking within yourself.

2.  When you aren’t in the throes of  neediness, invite your partner to talk about the pattern that you both play out.

Stay engaged even though it’s tough and you are tempted to withdraw–or whatever you do.

If you have trouble initiating conversations like these and staying with them, we’ve written two programs that can help.

“Magic Relationship Words” give you specific words, phrases and sentence-starters to help you say what it is that you mean in a way that can be heard. http://www.magicrelationshipwords.com

“Stop Talking on Eggshells” gives specific steps to take to talk with your partner without either of you shutting down.
http://www.StopTalkingonEggshells.com

Be willing to truly listen without getting defensive when your partner shares what he or she is feeling in those times.

You might ask yourself and your partner if this is a relatively recent pattern– beginning after something happened
between the two of you–or if this is how it’s always been.

Talking about the “elephant” that is still hanging around and listening to each other can help you stop all of this withdrawing.

Your willingness to listen without getting your hackles up (even if you think you don’t have “hackles”) or withdraw will set the stage for more and deeper sharing and trust between the two of you.

3. Decide what kinds of agreements you both are willing to make around what each of you want.

If your partner isn’t as touchy-feely and you want more, is there a way to get both your needs met?

Be creative and be specific.

Maybe a time each day that’s just for the two of you–and it might be that you spend 10 minutes rubbing each other’s feet or backs–or even sitting close to one another.

The point is to figure out what you each want in your relationship, strip away your previous patterns that sabotage you getting what you want–and then take steps that you both want to take toward what you want.  If he or she is unwilling to even talk about it with you, then keep practicing opening but also know that this may not be the partner for you.

There’s a big difference between coming toward someone with neediness and lack– and with radiance and openness.

Our wish for you is that the two of you practice dropping your defenses and going for the latter.

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