The Subtle, Yet Powerful Distinction Between Having Needs Vs. Being Needy — And Why It Matters So Much

We all have needs, but ...

How To Overcome Insecurity, Stop Being Needy & Be A Less Clingy Boyfriend Or Girlfriend unsplash

Being the clingy boyfriend or girlfriend in relationships is the equivalent of being that guy or girl lurking outside a tattoo parlor smoking a joint midday.

In other words, it may or may not hurt anyone, but it has a bad reputation.

You’ve heard similar phrases dozens of times ...

“Oh my gosh, she’s so needy.”

“Ugh. He calls me every minute of the day!”

“Um ... I looked out of my window and they were standing in the bushes while it was pouring rain!”


Having emotional needs and exhibiting neediness based on deep insecurity aren’t exactly the same thing. In fact, there is a large and important distinction between the two.

Neediness doesn't make for healthy relationships — it manifests codependency, annoyance and frustration. Needing someone, on the other hand, fosters strength, happiness, and appreciation.

RELATED: What It Means When Guys Say You're 'Too Needy' In Relationships


Why people equate having needs with weakness

Most people have a natural inclination to equate need, any need, with weaknesses like being insecure and clingy.

They often look at it in a very Jerry Maguire-esque fashion: you need your significant other to complete you.

Without them, you would be unhappy, unfulfilled, and incomplete.


In these circumstances, need is a negative, because it’s shifted into neediness. You should never rely on someone else to secure your satisfaction in life. It's up to you to do that. Happiness has to come from within. If you look for someone else to make you happy, that’s all you’ll ever do; look.

Needing someone in this manner also causes you to lose who you are.

You lose yourself in your codependency, and you no longer know what you stand for. You give up your passions, your hobbies, and sometimes even your friendships, all in hopes of making your relationship work.

That's not beneficial to you or your partner, and it won’t lead to happiness for either of you. Not in the long run, anyway.


“Immature love says ‘I love you because I need you.' Mature love says, ‘I need you because I love you.’” — Eric Fromm, The Art of Loving

RELATED: 8 Signs You're Way Too Emotionally Needy (And How To Fix It)

When need is good

Need that isn’t born out of neediness, on the other hand, is often a good thing.


If you are happy and in a strong, positive place in your life, a partner may add enrichment you wouldn’t otherwise possess. They can make things brighter, more vibrant, and more enjoyable. And, you may need them to do that — to add that zeal, that zest, that extra something that makes you feel more fulfilled.

That’s okay. That’s normal. That’s what healthy relationships are all about. It doesn't mean that you're clingy.

In fact, not allowing yourself to express that need is where you might get yourself into trouble.


Believing that need — any need — is a negative thing prevents you from allowing yourself to experience the wanting and vulnerability that are essential to any relationship’s foundation; it cuts the union off at the knees rather than letting it stand on its own.

Embracing these emotional needs gives you the chance to enjoy what your partner brings to the table. It allows you to appreciate the love, devotion, and excitement a healthy relationship helps foster.

And more importantly, it ultimately helps you cherish your partner just a little bit more.

RELATED: 5 Things You Do That Make Him Think You're 'Too Needy'

Clayton Olson is an international relationship coach, master NLP practitioner, and facilitator who delivers private virtual coaching sessions and leads online group workshops. Register for his free webinar on the 3 Keys to Attracting and Keeping a High-Quality Man, or grab his free guide, 8 Secrets To Create A Rock Solid Relationship.