Neediness and People-Pleasing: a list of thoughts

1. Neediness is difficult to be with. It’s repellent, slimy, and pervasive.

I had a taste of neediness from an acquaintance – I wanted to help him but he wanted more – a friendship, dating – more than I wanted to give. I let him know that I had offered all I could offer. I did not say “I do not want to be your friend” as I found it difficult to be with how I felt. And I definitely did not see myself as this person’s friend. I made myself wrong for wanting what I wanted – peace and quiet.

He sent  me a string of pleading and confused texts that gave way to texts to hook me back into communication. He wrote awful things. Then a final message telling me to “go away.” Then he blocked me. This was painful for me to receive. Here I was, thinking I was breaking the message softly to him, only to be smacked in the face by his tantrums.

2. This experience brought up my own neediness.

My over-thinking communications so as not to look too desperate/sad/alone (“Don’t send three texts in a row, that looks like you don’t have a life!”), holding people at arms-length because I do not trust myself and if I mess up or become attached, then how can I live with that? People-pleasing and other control patterns are relevant here too. All of these throw a heavy blanket over any authenticity that might otherwise exist.

3. How do we stay disempowered, distant and confused?

Someone might offer me a muffin and I’ll want a basket of muffins. But instead of just asking for it, I will launch an insidious guerrilla attack to try to get what I want WITHOUT ASKING FOR IT.

Or the opposite – someone will want a basket of muffins from me and I’ll finesse things so I only offer one muffin. Even though it is crystal clear they want more than I want to give. AND I NEVER SAY ANYTHING.

What do those two have in common? Not asking for what I want.

What is the probably result? I do not get what I want.

4. Neediness is just fear.

When fear (and fear’s minions: neediness, people-pleasing, and people-controlling) show up, they hide the beauty of who we authentically are.

Neediness is repellent. Authenticity is magnetic.

Own the fear – neediness is just the fear that we are unloveable.

I believe we can separate the fear from who we are. We are not our fear.

5. You get to choose who you spend time with. Be discerning.

Despite meeting people who ‘desperately need help/saving’, I do not have to save them. I’m not a people-saver.

I deserve people in my life who love me and express that to me.

In the past I’ve suspended rules of common decency for folks who have their trauma, their issues, their ‘stuff that they are going through’. “I wasn’t myself” they say, by way of explanation. And I make that mean that it won’t happen again. But it does. It’s a pattern.

Instead of riding the storm with them, I shall free myself. I recommend you do the same.

It’s okay to want what you want.

Own this: “I have been putting up with too much, pretending it has been okay. I’ve been inauthentic. When in fact I don’t enjoy this any more. I want a relationship that has love, adventure and joy in it.” Do you want to create that with me? Or how about we call it quits? Your choice.

Practicing discernment in this way is tricky for a hard-core people-pleaser.

“But I’m saying no to someone! I’m rejecting them! That’s cruel. That’s unkind.”

When it is actually cruel and unkind (and inauthentic) to: (a) pretend that a bad or ho-hum relationship is a good one and (b) continue to subject yourself to it slavishly.

Who is a HELL YES for practicing kindness to ourselves and others?

6. Neediness makes your wants illegitimate.

Neediness only exists when we do not see that we can legitimately have what we want. Perhaps that is the love, help and support of other people. Perhaps it is a sale. A client.

We are somehow not worthy or deserving of what, deep down, we know we want.

Who would say yes to us willingly? With neither a carrot nor a stick to tempt or herd them?

Who would not? They are not your people.

7. Neediness can be banished by speaking your truth.

Separate from whether someone can give something to you, what do you want? Apart from whether you are ashamed at your needs, share with others: what are they?

Banish your agenda.

Do not try to guess what someone likes or doesn’t like. Do not edit your vast love letter to fit into their puny mail box.

Give ’em what you’ve got.


Some Red Flags of Neediness and People-Pleasing:

  • Your friendships and relationships – are you getting what you want? What are you tolerating?
  • How are you trying to change your relationship or the other person into what you want?
  • How are you changing yourself to become something that people will find more attractive, loveable and less awkward, old or sad-apple-y? Look at everything – do you wax your forearms because you think they are ugly? Do you avoid saying anything that will reveal your age? Or the fact that you still live with your parents? Eat Cheez Whiz? etc.
  • Conversations with people you love – how much do you talk about the weather and what you ate for supper, and other superficial topics? How much do you talk about the past? How much do you talk about the future? About what you want to create? How vulnerable do you get?
  • How much do you edit what you are going to say to make it more palatable to the person hearing it? E.g. “I must not tell my Mom about the man I am dating because she will push me for details and then continue to follow up, and it’s only a new thing for me, so instead I’ll pretend he is a friend and I will use gender-neutral language so she won’t catch on to anything.”
  • How much do you avoid pestering people in your life and try to do things on your own? There’s nothing like moving furniture to remind us that it’s good to have friends.
  • How often do you fill your cup with the things that you love? Other people don’t give us love – they share the love that we already have. Make sure that you give yourself some.
  • Who are you currently trying to save?

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