"Why Are My Partners Always Needy?"By Dr. Margaret Paul
June 01, 2010
If you have the experience of always meeting needy or controlling people, it is likely because you are also needy and controlling and don't realize it.
Angelo had been married to Serena for 15 years before divorcing. In his marriage, Angelo was a caretaker, always trying to please Serena, always trying to get her approval and avoid her disapproval. Serena was a taker - handing responsibility to Angelo for her happiness and often angry with him when he didn't do what she wanted. Inside, Serena was deeply insecure, too insecure to even work, so she completely relied on Angelo financially.
Angelo felt very lonely in his marriage, which is what led to his decision to divorce.
"There was no love or affection, just demands," Angelo told me in our first phone session.
Soon after separating from Serena, Angelo met Barbara. At the beginning Barbara was kind and affectionate, seemingly totally different than Serena. But within a few months, she too become demanding, often complaining that Angelo wasn't spending enough time with her. When they were together, she was often depressed, complaining that Angelo was not there for her. This is what led Angelo to seek my help.
"Why are my partners always needy? Aren't there any women out there who are not needy?"
"Yes, there are many," I told him, "but people come together at their common level of self-abandonment. This means that the level to which you abandon yourself with your caretaking others and trying to get love from them, is the same level at which the women you attract abandon themselves - trying to get you to take care of them. If you want to attract women who are not needy, then you need to learn to not be needy yourself."
Angelo had never thought of himself as needy. He did not realize that caretaking others is a form of control to try to get the other person to give him the love that he had never learned to give to himself - to fill the emptiness that he was causing with his self-abandonment.
As we worked together with the Inner Bonding® process, Angelo gradually discovered how much he was abandoning himself. He saw that he never paid attention to his own feelings, staying up in his head and turning to various addictions instead of being present in his body. He realized that he never took responsibility for how empty he felt when he gave himself up or judged himself. He began to realize that his self-judgments, compliance, addictions, and making others responsible for his feelings were making him feel anxious, depressed, and needy. He was shocked to discover that, while he was a caretaker rather than a taker and didn't make the kind of demands on others that the women in his life made of him, he was abandoning himself as much as they were abandoning themselves - and was therefore just as needy.
Angelo soon realized that if he wanted to attract a loving and caring woman who took responsibility for herself, he would have to learn to be loving and caring toward himself. This was a challenge for him, as he had been erroneously taught that taking care of oneself is selfish instead of self-responsible. When he was young and tried to take care of himself instead of caretaking his mother, she would accuse him of being selfish.
As Angelo learned to take loving care of himself, he started to meet a very different kind of woman. He was surprised and delighted to discover that there are many women in the world who are not needy!
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Perfectionism is a form of control. "If I am perfect, then I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me." Life becomes much easier and more fun when we let go of having to be perfect and allow ourselves to be human.
By Dr. Margaret Paul