No one likes overly needy people, which makes it hard to acknowledge your own real needs from neediness. It’s easy to recognize neediness in others because you feel overwhelmed, besieged, guilty, and exhausted whenever they call, text, or you’re around them. They always want more from you than you want to give or that feels fair.
Everyone needs recognition, acceptance, and connection, which we primarily get from our relationships with others. Humans very much need others. If you’re in a relationship where you aren’t feeling seen and heard, or your partner seems to always be in chaos, is distant or feels unavailable, it’s highly likely that you will start feeling needy. This can make you susceptible to being used or manipulated.
Narcissistic partners can very quickly make you feel extremely needy, and then use that against you to get everything their way. In the beginning of the relationship they give you extravagant attention, glorification, and idealization to get you hooked, and then pull it away to keep you begging for “how it used to be”. They may even mock you or complain that you’re “too selfish or too needy,” in order to increase your insecurity and neediness.
When you become a caretaker for a narcissist, you’ll find yourself becoming more and more needy because NPs don’t notice and rarely respond to what you need and want.
Here are some of the signs that you’re moving into the needy caretaker response.
You only want to be with the narcissist. Are you feeling that if you’re not with them you’ll be forgotten? Do you feel a need to keep the NP only focused on you, so she/he won’t pursue other partners? Are you trying too hard to be everything they need? Are you feeling more and more empty and lonely even when you’re with this person?
You’re overly giving. Do you give a lot more time and attention than you get back? Do you give in to whatever the NP wants to do, but don’t feel that he/she considers or willingly participates in the things you want? Have you given up on your interests, friends, or time with your family? Do you feel the relationship is severely out of balance? Are you finding yourself more and more frustrated and resentful?
You feel you must beg to get any attention. When you ask for the NP’s attention, do you feel like you don’t seem to get enough? You may want to gather some actual data on this, since it can be very subjective. How much time do you actually spend together compared to the time the NP spends on their interests and friends without you? Even when you are together, is the NP on their phone, texting, watching a movie or involved with things that interest them but not you? Do you feel really listened to?
You think you need the NP’s approval and reassurance on nearly everything. You often feel insecure because the NP can suddenly get angry if things aren’t perfect. You frequently need the NP to tell you that he/she loves you, and that you’re OK. You do everything you can to please the NP, even when you don’t really want to, because you’re worried they might get too bored or annoyed and leave the relationship.
You often feel scared or angry when things aren’t going well. You find yourself trying to get the NP to see reality or win them over to your way of thinking. You feel really uneasy and insecure when the NP disagrees with you. You often feel that you have to give up or give in.
When you’re away from the NP you feel less anxious, alone, or insecure. Do you find that you have trouble reassuring yourself? Have you become isolated from friends or family members who encourage and support you? Is it hard for you to be alone for a few days because you’re wondering what the NP is doing? Have you lost interest in your own goals and passions because they don’t match the NP’s?
Neediness in a relationship is related to the fit between what you want from your partner, what you give to yourself, and what your partner gives to you. When one or all three of these are nearly empty, you’re going to feel increasing levels of neediness.
Narcissists work to isolate you, demand all of your energy, and lure you into thinking that if you please them, they’ll stop criticizing you and give you more of their love and attention. But they never really deliver. They work to take away all three ways that you can get your needs met. Leaving you feeling exhausted and needy–depending only on them.
The solution to getting out of this cycle of neediness is to find good, reliable sources of love, kindness, caring, and respect. Start by giving these things to yourself and making connections with truly loving people. Wean yourself away from the hope that you’ll ever get your needs met by a narcissist.