I admit it. I’m a needy guy.
As a needy guy, I’m not the atypical guy who chugs beer and watches football with his buddies. I don’t leave my dirty laundry all over the place and often forgets to help around the house. OK, I’m stereotyping there, but there are guys like that out there and I’m not one of them. But I’m also not overly-clingy or high maintenance either, but needy guy probably does describe me to a degree.
There’s a lot of posts out there about needy women and there’s a lot of posts out there about women dumping needy guys who were just short of stalkers, but I haven’t yet found a post that matches my situation. After all, I’m not a psycho who doesn’t let my wife out of his sight and while I enjoy her company and like to feel her touch, I don’t need to be around her 24/7.
I just like to feel connected to her; to feel that I matter to her and that I’m #1 in her life (or at least #3 behind our kids). And it’s not even that I think she doesn’t feel that way, but she and I communicate and show those things very differently.
So if you struggle with feeling that your and your spouse’s needs don’t always line up, or you are a needy guy or spouse, then read on;
This is for you! After all . . .
I’m a little sensitive, a little clingy, a needy guy. If I send my wife a text telling her I love her, or maybe post that on Facebook, if she doesn’t respond at some point during that day (especially if I see she’s “liking” other posts), my feelings can sometimes get hurt. Now, I’m not posting or texting constantly lest you think I’m smothering; I’m talking a couple times a week maybe, but it’s nice to know you’re being thought about every now and then.
— Bruce Van Horn (@BruceVH) October 21, 2016
My wife on the other hand is a hard nut to crack. She likes being alone and she likes calling her own shots without being accountable to anyone else. She posted an article not too long ago that really sums her up (briefly, but succinctly). That blog post was entitled What It Means To Love A Girl Who Is Used To Being On Her Own and it was a good refresher for me. Having been married over 10 years, it wasn’t an eye opener or anything, but it’s nice to be reminded that there isn’t anything actually wrong in the marriage and that . . .
Just because I don’t always see her telling or showing me that she loves me, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t.
You see while my wife isn’t exactly how I describe the atypical guy above, she does have some of those so-called masculine traits whereas I have some more so-called feminine traits. I like to cuddle in bed or on the couch while watching TV, I like to feel wanted and needed, I like to hold hands. I like to get the occasional text from her throughout our busy workdays. And she? Well she doesn’t really like those things. At least not as much as I do or as consistently as I like them.
I won’t lie. Sometimes that leaves me feeling like a lonely needy guy.
But I also recognize that my being needy is just my own insecurity and not really tied to how she genuinely feels.
So you might be asking yourself “why am I with this woman?”
I asked my wife to tell me some of the ways she shows me love and fosters connection since we obviously show those things differently. She mentioned:
- When she goes grocery shopping she always buys special foodie snacks just for me
- She encourages me to spend time with friends
- Encouraging me to follow my own dreams and passions
- Doing little things around the house so that I don’t have to
And I have to admit that she does do a lot of those things, although except for #1 they aren’t things that draw us together, but they are ways of showing she cares and making sure I feel supported.
I’m probably guilty of being an over-communicator. I like to talk about my feelings until I feel like they are resolved and I get that sometimes that might come off as repetitive or annoying. Because if I don’t think my point is being grasped, I’ll re-phrase it and say it again. Does that make me a needy guy? Ironically in the early days of our marriage I was much more quiet and didn’t always open up and that was a source of frustration for my wife. Now she’s probably sorry she ever asked me to communicate my feelings more, lol!
My wife on the other hand is more (going back to stereotypes) the “strong silent type”, mostly keeping to herself and often deep in thought in her own head, and sometimes guilty of not communicating an issue until it’s at the boiling point. For a needy guy like me, if I’m not privy to your thought playbook, my mind sometimes tends to fill in the blanks where it thinks your words should go. When that happens you can bet I get a lot of stuff wrong. But then, as I sometimes find myself saying . . .
I’m not a mind-reader
@TheMrsZilla your spouse is not a mindreader. Don’t assume they know how you are feeling
— Married Ms. (@WifeGoes0n) November 7, 2016
My wife, much to her credit, has gone to great lengths to adapt to my personality and to try and give me some of what I need. She communicates now more than ever so I’m not left to wonder what she’s thinking or why she’s suddenly gone quiet. Going back to the post I linked at the top, her walls are “the encompassing shell of a place she made, a life she built, a world that belongs to nobody but her. And while it protects her, maintains her, and keeps her safe, it’s also simply, just what she knows.”
But walls also keep people out, and sometimes I feel like a needy guy outsider.
If you struggle with taking your relationship beyond average, I highly recommend my post 5 Secrets to Create Lasting Love – Make Your Relationship Soar! I details some very simple steps you can take to ensure your relationship both improves and lasts!
In talking about my being a needy guy, I explained to her that I often feel either 100% connection (usually on the weekends) or none at all (typically during the week). My wife went on to say that she felt I wanted a consistent level of attention all week long but that the weekend was the only time where she didn’t have the stresses of work and school and that “she doesn’t need that constant connection (the way I do) because (she) knows it’s there without having to express it”. I, on the other hand, do like feeling connection and while I know it’s there, it’s nice to feel it occasionally too. Does that make me needy?
I too have gone to great lengths to give her what she needs; I’m more patient, more flexible, I try to be understanding that she doesn’t show affection the same way I do, I give her time alone when she asks for it and the occasional sleeping in while I get the girls ready for school. I also try and do a lot around the house so that she doesn’t have to worry about much; she works hard! In short, I try to be less needy!
While I used to get upset at what I was perceiving as aloof or distant behavior, I’ve now come to (mostly) be accepting of it. I still like to check in when I see that behavior just to ensure there isn’t anything else going on, but, (in my best Yoda voice) . . .
Accept it, I do
At the end of the day, both our points of view are based in part on fear; insecurity and self-esteem issues. Yes, my being a needy guy and her being guarded all come from the same sources. Many of us have insecurity issues and I know I have mine. I know I have an innate fear of people leaving, and sometimes in my past that has led me to preemptive strikes where I left first to in order to avoid being left.
My folks split up when I was 6 months old and by the time I was 2 my Mom had remarried and we moved well over 1000 miles away from my dad and I rarely saw him for the next 8 years. My Mom and Step-Dad then split up as I approached 11 and again, we moved well over 1000 miles away from the person I then called Dad, and just a few short years later he passed away.
In short, I’m afraid of being abandoned, and this fear, however irrational, can drive my insecurities in my relationship.
This guy’s advice, however, is spot on for a guy like me!
My wife too has many of those same issues with insecurity. But out of respect for her privacy I’m not going to get into specifics. I will, however, say I know over the course of our relationship that I have occasionally done things to damage trust. I know I’ve made her insecurities far worse. And she has occasionally done things to damage trust and make my insecurities worse.
Yes, in my quest to draw closer and forge a deeper connection, I have also simultaneously forced her away, and she, me. And that’s a pain I simply have to live with, but I think recognizing and admitting it is half the battle. And it’s also a fair statement to say that while my issues have made me a little needy, her issues have built walls around her to protect her. So it’s interesting that fear, insecurity, abandonment & trust issues can manifest themselves so differently. But they do.
If you find some of those troublesome qualities creep into your relationship, you need to figure out which stage your relationship is at. My post, The 3 Relationship Stages – How to Take Yours to the Next Level is a great guide for both helping you identify where you’re at, and helping you map out where to take it.
How Does a Needy Guy Love an Independent Woman?
It’s funny, but when we renewed our wedding vows in 2013, one of the cornerstones of our spoken parts was a humorous, if not inaccurate comparison of us to Star Trek’s Captain Kirk and 1st Officer Spock. Now in that scenario, I am Spock and my wife Kirk even though the picture I’m painting here is one of me as the erratic emotional needy guy and her as the stoic silent one. That being said, as I re-read those vows, crafted by our friend Jennifer Bertrand (who also officiated the ceremony) in the context of this post, I totally get it (aside from questioning why Jen called Spock “doctor”). Those words included this part which I think is especially relevant to how I’m currently feeling:
“Is it possible for Dr. Spock and Captain Kirk to have a harmonious union?
Yes, but first they have to acknowledge and celebrate their differences,
learn to speak each others languages and be open to the unique point of view each of them holds.
Captain Kirk must always remember that Dr. Spock is only half human and
Dr. Spock must understand the Captain Kirk’s heart is always in the right place.”
I was listening to an interview the other day with renowned marriage expert John Gottman of the Gottman Institiute. If anyone knows anything about marriage in this world, it’s certainly John Gottman. I also wholeheartedly recommend his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman. In this interview, among many things he said was (and I paraphrase) that it’s a common misconception that in order to make a marriage work you have to lower your expectations. He went on to say that it works much better to have high expectations as long as that’s matched with realistic views.
Emotionally Intelligent Husbands are Key to a Lasting Marriage
— Middle Class Dad (@middleclassdad1) October 16, 2016
So how do I get my needs met while not forcing her to do something she doesn’t want to do?
That’s a great question. Of course for me as a “needy guy” to truly feel fulfilled, the actions from her would have to be genuine. They can’t feel like something that was forced or simply done to placate me. And in the same breath I have to truly accept that she isn’t going to be as affectionate and communicative as I might want her to be. I need to work on accepting that graciously rather than simply sulking about it. In short, I need to be less of a needy guy.
The first step is simply acknowledging that I have my needs and she has hers and they won’t always intersect; and that’s OK. I have to learn to be OK when she doesn’t reach out to me. I’ll appreciate it when she does, & understand and accept that when she doesn’t. And grasp that it doesn’t mean she’s going anywhere. On the flip side, she also has to recognize that a marriage is like a garden; it has to be nurtured and watered and cared for; it doesn’t simply exist and thrive left alone – it needs love and care.
Granted as she just pointed out “you do know I kill plants, don’t you?”
If your relationship is struggling or in trouble, now is the time for action. Don’t just sit back and wait to see if things get better; you have to drive that change. My post Top 3 Reasons for Divorce and How You Can Avoid Them is well worth reading. Perfect for anyone who’s relationship is struggling or for those who want to keep things moving in the right direction.
HERE ARE THE TOP 5 THINGS I AM WORKING ON AS A NEEDY GUY
And while I know these things are all important, for me they are most definitely a work in progress
- Give her the benefit of the doubt
- Don’t assume anything
- Go off of what she says rather than reading into silence, body language or changes in behavior
- Understand that she’s not going anywhere (unless I push her away)
- This one is admittedly a challenge as some of the most important people in my early life did indeed go away. But I get it; she’s here and has been here 10 years. If she were leaving it would have already happened.
- But I also need to recognize that my insecurities could potentially be one of the biggest strains on our relationship if left unchecked or if I don’t focus on improving them (which I am).
- Don’t read into her behavior or silence
- I need to work more on simply trusting that she will communicate an issue when it arises rather than assuming something is wrong because she’s suddenly (in my eyes) acting differently or not saying much.
- Giving her space when she needs it and not make any assumptions about the request
- We all need space, time to ourselves and time with our friends where we aren’t a parent or a spouse and we’re just “us”
- I need to work on not feeling like that request is somehow indicative that she doesn’t want to spend time with me.
- Not punishing her for my insecurities
- No doubt my insecurities are hard for her to deal with. Granted I also find her behavior hard to deal with occasionally too, but I have improved a lot on simply asking straightforward questions rather than leading questions or engaging in passive-aggressive behavior.
- I get that my insecurities should not be “punishing” her simply because she communicates differently than I do.
- Give her the benefit of the doubt
and the flip side . . .
HERE ARE THE TOP 5 THINGS I NEED FROM HER
- Recognizing that we have different needs and that a great marriage sometimes means putting the others needs before our own
- There has to be balance in anything we do, so it can’t all be about me, but it also can’t be all about her; we have to meet in the middle.
- It’s OK for things to ebb and flow and while we don’t need to keep score, it is important that we recognize and take ownership of when we’re not giving each other what we need.
- Understanding that for me it’s not about the quantity of connection but more about the quality of connection
- She sometimes gets it in her head that I want something from her that is time consuming or draining when really all I need each day could be boiled down to just a minute or two.
- Sometimes it’s just something simple like putting her phone down and talking with me for 5 minutes
- Communicating her needs and thoughts and not just assuming I know or that I don’t need to know
- This one is big too and definitely somethings she’s worked hard on improving.
- Mostly it’s just nice to know when she’s obviously agitated or stressed that it’s not something I did that caused it
- Understanding that we both have triggers based on our childhood or even from earlier in our marriage. And that these have nothing to do with one another now or what we might be disagreeing on
- We both have pasts and things in our past undoubtedly affect how we respond to situations and to each other, even if completely unrelated. While we can’t always catch those triggers before they occur we can strive to recognize them for what they are and acknowledge that they might be amplifying the current situation.
- We also have both done things in the past years of our marriage that did damage to it and while those behaviors aren’t present today, sometimes we do feel those triggers too, so it’s important to not make assumptions of one another based on past behavior that isn’t currently relevant.
- Knowing that sometimes just a 2 second “I love you” is worth more than hours of conversation
- This one ties in with #2; I really don’t need a lot. We both lead extremely busy lives and often are running on empty throughout the day and by the time we get home we don’t have much to give; I get that!
- A quick text a few times throughout a week is usually all I need to feel connected (but is just one of many quick ways).
- Recognizing that we have different needs and that a great marriage sometimes means putting the others needs before our own
Are you a needy guy? Are you an independent spouse? Feeling disconnected or smothered in your relationship? I’d love to hear your stories, thoughts and especially solutions you found that helped.
Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions and if you like what I do. Please consider sharing on your favorite social networks!
I want to hear from you! Thanks for being with us!
Photo credits (that aren’t mine):
Lonely Dog – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ruocaled/
Kirk and Spock – https://www.flickr.com/photos/enerva/
Yoda Statue – http://bit.ly/1TDVDGm