I'm a Relationship Expert and These Are the 5 Biggest Signs of a Needy Partner
Here's how to recognize the issue—plus some pro advice on how to deal with it.
It's normal to have needs in a relationship—for example, hearing your partner express appreciation for you or having them initiate physical affection. But what happens when you feel like you can never meet all of your partner's expectations and desires? A needy partner can make a relationship turn toxic, says Mario Palacios, a licensed marriage and family therapist. You may feel drained, confused, frustrated, and even resentful from trying to appease your partner and make them feel secure and satisfied in the relationship.
But the first thing to know? Your partner doesn't want to feel needy. In all likelihood, Palacios says their behavior stems from low self-esteem and self-worth, anxiety, insecure attachment, or a combination of all these things. If your partner is willing to work on the underlying issues that are driving their neediness—say, in therapy—it's still possible to have a healthy relationship with them. Either way, Palacios advises keeping an eye out for these red flags.
They text you constantly—and always expect a response.
There's no denying that it's nice to receive the occasional text message from your partner—whether they send a funny meme or simply ask how your afternoon is going. It can lift your spirits during a stressful workday to know they're thinking about you.
That said, as the saying goes, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. If the volume of your partner's texting or calling becomes overwhelming, and they become upset when they don't get a response from you, Palacios says that's a telltale sign of neediness.
In this case, you may need to set expectations by telling them how often you can realistically chat during the day, and also let them know how their excessive texting makes you feel.
They get separation anxiety when you don't see them for a day or two.
Let's say you have a three-day business trip, or a particularly busy week due to a looming deadline. As a result, you aren't able to carve out quality time with your partner. It's normal for your partner to miss you in these cases, says Palacios. However, if it seems to be impacting their mental health, that's an issue.
"Experiencing a depressive or anxious episode at the thought of not being 'near' you is not healthy," he tells Best Life.
Your partner may also feel threatened when you spend time with others, or even show up uninvited to your plans that don't include them.
You never have a chance to miss each other.
On the flip side, if you and your partner never miss each other—because you're constantly together—that's another warning sign.
"If your needy partner is insisting that you need to see them all the time and spend less time with friends, this is a huge red flag," says Palacios. "Healthy relationships happen when two people are still able to maintain some level of independence."
Take note of how your partner reacts when you make plans with other people. If they guilt trip you, plead with you not to go, or otherwise try to prevent you from spending time away from them, that suggests they have some work to do.
They crave constant reassurance.
It's natural to need a certain level of reassurance that your partner loves you, but for a needy partner, it's never enough to calm their anxiety and insecurity.
They might frequently ask you direct questions like, "How much do you love me? Are you sure?" "You're not leaving me, right?" or "Do you think I'm attractive?"
Palacios says this comes from an intense need to feel sure that they are safe in the relationship and a certain level of distrust. It can also stem from a fear of abandonment.
They fish for compliments—and your praise is never enough.
If your partner is often seeking out compliments from you, that can signal neediness that is rooted in low self-worth. And no matter how many nice things you say to them, Palacio says it may feel as if they're always left wanting more praise from you. Not only that, but a needy partner may also struggle to accept any degree of criticism.
The best thing to do if your partner is constantly fishing for compliments is to encourage them to work on building their self-esteem—say, by trying some new hobbies, learning how to turn off negative self-talk, or saying positive affirmations. Once they feel better about themselves, they won't rely on you so much to lift them up.
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