Neediness: What am I doing Wrong?

This week a person commented
But if she’s single, and she really wants to be in a relationship, isn’t she doing something wrong?

What do you think? Are people who are single and desire partnership doing something wrong?

I assert the philosophy that people need people. We need to feel as if we belong, and that we matter. I don’t necessarily desire marriage right now, but I do need connection, intimacy, being known and knowing others, contribution.

I have come to recognize that I am uncomfortable with needing. I not only question my needs, but the presence of them in my life instigates a perception of weakness. The question above underscores this mentality. If I need something, or someone, then I must lack it, and the lacking must be “my fault”…I must have done something wrong.

Whoa! Wait a minute…is that always valid?

In our culture, this mentality triumphs. If you need carbs, you must have a sugar addiction. If you need sleep, you must have a TV in your room robbing you or the Zzzs. If you need a hot bath, you must be overly stressed. We seem to think that is something is missing in our lives that we did something wrong.

I often don’t recognize my needs when they arise. I get a big satisfaction from denying my needs because I like to feel like I am intellectually above needing, and a sense of achievement is gained by denying them. When the need becomes louder, I’ll sometimes run to other things to distract myself from needing…I’ll start a new project at work, I’ll read your blogs, I’ll send a card to a friend…all positive activities on the surface, but underneath, sometimes, just sometimes, these tasks are ways to deprive my needs.

Just because you desire or need something doesn’t indicate automatic failure.

If you need a friend to call you back, it doesn’t automatically mean that you are clingy or needy, it doesn’t always signal that you dropped the ball, or that you lack good communication skills. Sometimes friends just don’t call back.

Sure, you’ve got qualities to modify. We all do. You can work on acceptance. You can work on your coping skills, your communication style, your hobbies.

But a need shouldn’t define or judge you…yes, sometimes we do exacerbate our needs….my point here is not all the time.

A need is a signpost for nourishment…a desire for what is essential…not a place of social or individual criticism.

Excuse me while I go take a nice hot bath.

—and while I am luxuriating, what do you think: Are people who are single and desire partnership doing something wrong? What need do you deny?


9 thoughts on “Neediness: What am I doing Wrong?

  1. I believe the word “need” is too strong of a word. I prefer “desire”. I guess I would place items under need as, God, oxygen, water, food, and shelter. This list to me keeps life in perspective. Anything beyond this is icing on the cake. But being single I would desire to have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. One that would compliment my life as I would hers. But it would not fall under the need if I continued my life without having full filled this.

  2. Finding a person who is right for you is one of those things which happens in its own time. Its kinda like telling someone who is unemployed in this economy that they are doing something wrong: sometimes these things just take time.

    I know that I am one very wacky individual. I love trees but I also love my car. I am from a city that banned guns but I am pro gun.

    Dude. its going to take a while for me to meet someone who is going to put up with all my interests and contradictions and who has compatible interests and contradictions of their own.

    I think you are right. Our entire culture lives by this mentality that we are doing something wrong. How negative. Why don’t we dwell on our qualities and everything that we are doing right?

  3. This topic actually reminds me of the Runaway Bride movie with Julia Roberts – she kept getting engaged but couldn’t ever make it down the aisle. In the end, she realized she hadn’t taken the time to get to know herself yet, and that was what was holding her back from making a match with someone else. I have always kept that in mind as a single person who has a dream of finding a life partner, but hasn’t yet arrived at a place where the dream is a reality. In the meantime, I can spend my free time continuing to get to know myself, with the assumption that as I know myself better, I will be able to share more of who I am safely with others as well.

  4. I think that for most people it is in our nature to want to find that special person. It makes more sense to remain single and keep looking rather than to grab the first person you find just to avoid being alone.

    I have many friends that have demanding careers that get in the way of their relationships. It’s not that they wouldn’t be willing to make some adjustments for their careers for the right person, but they’re not willing to do that for anyone short of the right person. I think that’s the way it should be.

  5. “A need is a signpost for nourishment”–absolutely. The problem is that sometimes we think we need one thing, but really we need something else and are misinterpeting our desires. For instance, have you ever thought you were really hungry but actually it turned out that a glass of water was what you really needed? I think something similar can happen with relationship cravings. You can think you need a boyfriend (and beat yourself up for needing a man), but what you really need is someone to love and listen to you (which is not a need you should beat yourself up for). And you can find love and listening in a variety of sources, not necessarily a boyfriend. If that’s how it shows up, fine! But we should be open to accepting love/listening (or whatever the actual need is) in various other forms. (Kittens!!)

  6. No way! How can they be doing something wrong when it’s all about luck? I’m feeling like I want to date lately, but there are no single men in my life, so what can I do? I go to an online dating site, but no one catches my attention, so what can I do? I usually blame myself for everything or claim to be “doing something wrong” but this is one area where I just can’t do that, because I’m not doing anything wrong, it’s just not how things work for me.

    If anyone here feels themselves thinking they are doing something wrong because you can’t get a date, look around you at all the coupled people you know- do they honestly look like people who did something “right?” They’re no different than you, in fact, they are probably worse 🙂

  7. “Are people who are single and desire partnership doing something wrong?”

    There is always the chance that we can be acting a certain way that isn’t the most welcoming to the opposite sex. A guy could be a jerk, or a lady too needy acting for example.

    The answer to the question though, is absolutely not! It seems to hint at singles being single because they are doing something wrong.

    There’s my 2 cents 🙂

  8. Women are always getting labeled and criticized for being needy. They hate to say (and men hate to hear) the dreaded “We need to talk.” Well, we do need to talk! Why should we be ashamed if we need to understand how a person we may be physically intimate with is feeling about us emotionally? I see so many young women NOT speaking up when they have every right to, and it is reasonable. Yes, there are some women and men who get clingy. That’s never attractive. But I don’t think we should be ashamed of needs in general. Plus, one of my favorite pieces of advice: You get what you ask for in this life.

  9. Oh, my goodness, this post perfectly articulates what I think of as the most damaging myth of pop psychology–that it's wrong to need anything or anyone but yourself. You're completely right! It's totally normal to need human companionship. The only caveat I would add is that I think the need for one specific kind of companionship–romantic companionship–can become unhealthy when it's so obsessive that it prevents us from being happy without it.

    And is there something wrong with singles? An emphatic "no" to that! I don't think there's anything wrong with singles that isn't wrong with non-singles. Just anecdotally, I know singles who are healthy and singles who are troubled. I know married people who are healthy and married people who are troubled. And I don't know anyone who was troubled as a single who is miraculously NOT troubled now that they are married.

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