Are You Good Needy Or Bad Needy?

How to know whether you're sucking the life out of your relationship -- or making it stronger.


Nobody wants to be that girl (or that guy). I’m talking about the desperate one who’s always chasing after someone who’s just not that into her. The insecure one in a relationship who can’t spend an hour apart from her partner without checking her cellphone and email -- or his. Trouble is, once you’re in a relationship, worrying that you’re too needy can prevent you from connecting in ways that nurture genuine, healthy closeness.


How do you tell the difference between Good Needy and Bad Needy? Here are some guidelines:

Bad Needy is all about fear. Doubting your partner’s devotion, you try to keep him on a short leash. When you’re Bad Needy:

1. You expect your partner to read your mind, pump you up, and solve all your problems -- and you get furious when he doesn’t. “My girlfriend got a new nightgown and I didn’t notice it,” one man told me. “She wouldn’t speak to me for two days.”

2. You don’t talk about things that bother you because you’re too afraid to make him mad or turn him off.

3. You get angry or tearful at playful banter.


4. In a new relationship, you get sexual in order to hold onto him, instead of waiting till sex feels like a natural move that reflects your connection.

5. You check his phone or computer for emails and texts. (It's a different story if your relationship is recovering from an infidelity.)

Good Needy grows out of a relationship that gives you both room to breathe. It doesn’t mean acting too cool or not wanting compliments or time together. In a healthy relationship, expressing your needs grows naturally out of a rich mix of closeness and trust. Feeling lucky you found each other, you’re confident and flexible about your needs. When you’re Good Needy:

1. You trust that your partner, despite occasional carelessness or conflict, is genuinely interested in your needs and wants.


2. You know you’re terrific -- not perfect, but special in your own unique way -- and you expect your partner to respond to your good qualities and accomplishments, even if you sometimes have to call his attention to them with a smile: “Like my haircut?”

3. Most of the time you feel strong and centered enough to express your needs calmly when you're unhappy about something your partner says or does. You ask for what you want using what couples researchers John and Julie Gottman call the “softened start-up,” expressing appreciation for your partner and sharing your feelings before you make your request. “I really love getting texts from you during the day and I know you’re tired after work, but when you just watch TV until we fall asleep I miss you. I’d like us to set aside some couple time.”

4. You tell your partner what you’d like from him, but you don’t tell him exactly what to do. You trust him to respond to you in his own way. “When you go out with your friends after work without letting me know, I end up waiting around instead of making my own plans. I’d like you to give me a heads-up.” It’s his job to suggest a solution.


5. You see expressing your needs as a win-win. When you’re longing for more affection, or better communication, expressing your needs appropriately is good for you -- and good for both of you. The things that are important to each partner aren’t always easy to fit together, but they are essential puzzle pieces in the jigsaw that is your overall relationship.

Worried you’re stuck in the Bad Needy place? Start by acting as if you were Good Needy. Soon enough you will be.