How Neediness Can Damage a Relationship

The partner of a needy individual often withdraws.
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If you are constantly fearful, insecure or depressed, you may be caught in a vicious cycle of neediness that drives others away. It isn’t the need for closeness and reassurance -- or even expressing those needs -- that damages relationships. It is the thoughts, emotions and behaviors associated with neediness. Understanding where your neediness comes from can help you to react differently and may save your relationships.

1 Neediness and Fear

People who experience loss, whether due to death of a loved one, divorce, abuse or some other tragic event, often experience intense fear of being abandoned. This fear can damage future relationships if the individual is desperate for reassurance that the loss isn't going to happen again. Neediness is often rooted in fear, writes Craig Malkin, a clinical psychologist, in The Huffington Post article, "How to Overcome Neediness." This fear can get in the way of being able to act rationally.

2 Neediness and Insecurity

If you have ever seen a small child cling to a parent when someone else tries to hold him, you know the strength of attachment. These needs are instinctive and don't go away as a person ages. In fact, scientists can predict how successful a person will be in romantic relationships based on how secure he or she was as an infant. Children who were secure establish healthy relationships. One way insecure people react is to become anxious and worry that their partner doesn't love them enough. They easily become frustrated or angered when their needs go unmet.

3 Neediness and Depression

According to a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, needy individuals often silence their needs in an effort to avoid conflict and preserve the relationship. This can backfire because their partners have no way of knowing the unexpressed needs. Neediness can result in depression. If you experience prolonged sadness or are thinking of hurting yourself, it is time to seek help.

4 The Ability to Change

While there are reasons that needy people behave the way they do, that does not mean they are incapable of change. Malkin suggests that you can overcome neediness. By recognizing fear and using stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, exercise and meditation, you can conquer neediness. He also suggests that you respect your needs rather than fearing them. Even the most secure individuals have a need for closeness, reassurance, contact and love.

Based just outside of Harrisburg, Pa., Catherine Donges teaches adjudicated adolescents in a residential treatment facility in York, Pa. Donges earned both her Master of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Wilkes University and a Master of Science in education from Capella University and has written both a women's fiction and a young adult novel.