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Emotional Neediness

by Dr. Sidney Langston

Do you know someone so emotionally needy, that regardless of how attentive and giving you are in your relationship with them, it is never enough? The longer you are around these individuals, the more they demand of you. And if you don't quickly meet their needs, they conclude that you are rejecting them. Such relationships can become so draining that you come to dread being around these persons. This dread creates a double bind for you. On the one hand, you do like and enjoy them when they are behaving in an equitable, adult manner. However, when their behavior changes and they revert back to their childish demanding ways, alienation occurs and the relationship breaks down.


Individuals that fit this description are emotionally dependent and needy. They truly believe that the ongoing presence and/or nurturing of another person is necessary for their personal security. The need for nurturing can take on various forms such as time spent together, attention, affirmation, listening, counsel and admiration.


We all have a deep need for intimate friendships, but the emotionally needy individuals are looking for someone to meet their basic needs for love and security—someone to take care of them and to provide for them.


Typical root problems that promote emotional dependency and neediness

  • Covetousness: desiring to possess something (or someone) that does not belong to us;

  • Rebellion: refusing to live in an equitable manner with significant others and refusal to submit to rational authority;

  • Mistrust: failing to believe that our needs can be met in healthy ways without depending on others to take care of us; and

  • Idolatry: deification of someone as the center of our lives from whom life and security are drawn.


Perceived Benefits of Dependency

There are benefits to being emotionally dependent and needy. As painful as dependency is, it does provide some gratification. Some of the perceived benefits of an emotional dependency are:

  • Emotional security: a dependent relationship gives us the sense that we have at least one relationship upon which we can depend. This

    gives us the feeling of importance and of belonging to someone;

  • Intimacy: our need for intimacy, warmth and affection might be filled through this relationship;

  • Self-worth: our ego is boosted when someone admires us or is attracted to us. We also appreciate feeling needed;

  • Relief from boredom: a relationship like this might add excitement and possibly even romance when life seems dull otherwise. In fact,

    the stressful ups and downs of the relationship can be addictive.

  • Escape from responsibility: the focus on maintaining the relationship can provide an escape from confronting personal problems and

    responsibilities; and

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