Go on, ask for what you want and more so what you need. Lay claim to what is true for you. Trust me it’s a good thing.
So many of my clients share a fear of being “needy.” They believe, “I’ll loose myself if I lean on my partner too much. I also shouldn’t really need anything from them.” And I’ll be honest, I used to believe this too. I have felt that internal struggle of wanting to be close but cautious it would take away from being connected to just ME.
It’s plain out scary to depend on someone to support you and to show up for you emotionally. By relying on someone, we give up a sense of control and we become vulnerable to being hurt by this very same person. But the absolute 100% truth is that we are hard wired to first be DEPENDENT on others with our own individual independence coming in second. It’s not the other way around.
Let me explain.
Our culture has become obsessed with personal independence. Pulling yourself up by your OWN bootstraps is high-fived and celebrated. Standing on your own two feet is recognized as strength. But once you ask for help or support, you’re looked down upon as weak, incapable, and definitely not self sufficient. We’ve created a culture that is overly fixated on “my own personal happiness” and a culture that now believes that we are individually in charge of our own well-being. If you’re sad, that’s your problem. If you’re angry, go deal on your own.
We’ve somehow become completely disconnected from our core need to depend on others for emotional support so that we can truly feel seen, heard, and loved.
The end result is extreme loneliness. A loneliness that we are seeing manifest through violence. A loneliness that self protects. A loneliness that craves a drug to escape the deeper pain. It’s a loneliness that conflicts with what makes us human beings.
Let me say this even more clearly: Dependence isn’t a choice.
This whole independent band wagon is leading us quickly astray and down a lonely, depressed, and emotionally disconnected path. The only choice we have is effective dependence or ineffective dependence. We are just that hard wired down to our heart and soul to be in relationship with others and to DEPEND on others.
This revelation is often the biggest eye opening, a-ha, moment for my clients, especially the couples I see who are struggling to have their needs met in their relationships. They are often struggling because part of them is saying, “You shouldn’t need anyone. You should rely on yourself only. Otherwise you’re too needy!” While another part of them is urgently saying, "You need closeness. You need to feel understood through another. You need this person's consistent love and comfort!"
We need relationship and genuine connection just as much as we need food and water every day. We each also have specific ways of how to feel closeness and to quench that thirst for true connection.
Working with my clients centers around how to move into prioritizing our needs for relationship and how to also have these needs for connection met. Being open about what these needs are and asking directly for what you want is a sure way to avoid any sense of clinginess. When we can honor and celebrate emotional dependency, we can find a truer more genuine independence in ourselves.
Emotional dependency isn't immature or pathological. It is our greatest strength.
-Dr. Sue Johnson