June* (name changed) is a smart, outgoing, and self-directed college sophomore. She works hard to maintain her high GPA and has her sights set on law school. She is an active volunteer and contributes much of her free time to philanthropic organizations. She is a compassionate and honest person with a close circle of good friends. Recently, she started dating, Ryan*, who seems like her equal. He cares about school, is friendly, athletic, and highly motivated.
In a recent coaching session, June was telling me about Ryan. Her eyes brightened each time she said his name. Her excitement and interest were obvious, but so was her fear. “I mean, he hasn’t texted me in like two days. I’m just not sure what is going on.” When I suggested she reach out with a casual hello and honest acknowledgment that she’s thinking of him, she gasped! “Oh no! I don’t want to be that girl.. I don’t want him to think I’m needy.”
I often find myself in this conversation when coaching college students. Somewhere along their way, many girls have determined that being honest and vulnerable is needy, and needy is bad. Consequently, they suppress or compromise their needs and find themselves in unfulfilling or unbalanced relationships.
The reality is all humans have needs and, when it comes to relationships, it can be scary and hard to express them. Fear and what-ifs creep in. What if the other person is incapable or unwilling to meet my needs? What if he or she is annoyed or overwhelmed by my needs? What if she/he leaves? What if she/he thinks I’m too needy?
The truth is you never know how another person will respond to your needs AND it is always important to be honest and true to what you need.
Expressing your needs without being needy is all about clarity, calm, and self-care.
Get clear on your relationship needs. Contemplating these questions can help identify what you want from a relationship:
- What is important to me in a relationship?
- What makes me feel safe and secure?
- What makes me feel valued and loved?
Communicate your needs with assertiveness and calm. Be open to understanding how the other person is receiving your need. As you share your needs, listen to theirs. Don’t make demands or expect the other person to know your needs. No one can read your mind. Remember that when you are calm, honest, and open about how you feel and what you need, it is not desperate or needy. It is an important step to laying a foundation of trust and showing up authentically.
Being needy is undesirable because it indicates desperation and puts a lot of pressure on another person. Learn how to take responsibility for your feelings and needs. Validate and accept how you feel and what you need. Ask yourself, what do I need? and consider how you can meet those needs and care for yourself.
Don’t expect the other person to know your needs. Until you’ve expressed your needs, you won’t know if he can meet them. Maybe she/he can, maybe she/he can’t, but whichever it is, you will be able to make wise decisions about your relationships.