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"Is My Need For Attention Reasonable or Needy?"

By Dr. Margaret Paul
March 31, 2015

Have you ever wondered if your desire to share time with a partner is coming from need or neediness?

Sometimes it's a challenge to know what are reasonable relationship needs and when we are being needy.

Klarese is asking this important question:

"I am currently dating a wonderful person who I care about greatly. A challenge for me is his job is very demanding leaving us little time to spend together. I am aware my childhood triggers of abandonment are being tickled, however, I am having a difficult time figuring out if I am being reasonable or unreasonable with my need for attention. How do I discriminate between my codependent 'needs' and my true need to love and be loved while living my own fulfilled life?"

Each of us has the right to want whatever amount of attention we want in a relationship. Some people love to spend a lot of time together and others need less time together. There is nothing wrong with Klarese wanting more time with a partner.

The problem lies in wanting this from her current partner, who is not available to give her the attention she wants. She asks if she is being reasonable or unreasonable with her need for attention.

The answer is that she is being unreasonable, because she is expecting attention from someone who is not available to give it to her. She is not accepting that her wonderful guy is too busy in his job to meet her attention needs.

Klarese has a choice to make. She can accept that she is in a relationship with a wonderful man who doesn't have a lot of time for her, and learn to give herself the attention she needs, or she can seek a relationship with a man who doesn't work as much. The choice she doesn't have is to try to have control over getting her boyfriend to work less. Trying to control another to get your needs met generally leads to power struggles and distance.

There are two different places where a need for attention can come from. If Klarese is abandoning herself and expecting her boyfriend to give her what she is not giving herself, then her need is coming from neediness.

If Klarese has learned to love herself and feels ready to share her love, then her need is coming from a healthy place. When we take loving care of ourselves and fill ourselves with love, we have love to share and we want to spend time with our beloved, sharing it.

Klarese states that she wants to love and be loved while living her own fulfilled life, so it sounds to me like her desire to spend more time with her boyfriend is not needy. But she is having trouble accepting that he isn't available in the way she wants and needs. She is not being unreasonable in what she wants, but she is being unreasonable in expecting to get it from her boyfriend.

Just because we have a reasonable need doesn't mean that our partner is obligated to meet it. In order for Klarese to find an appropriate partner, she needs to fully validate and accept her need for time with a partner, and also accept that she has no control over another's time.

Klarese, I understand that you are with a wonderful man, but he is not a match for you, regarding available time to share love. So you either need to accept that you don’t have - and may never have - the kind of time with him that you want, and make yourself happy in other ways, or you need to move on and seek a relationship with a more available man. Only you can know which choice is most loving to you and is in your highest good.


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Today, embrace all adversity as opportunities to learn. All adversity has within it the seed of learning and growth. If you approach adversity as a victim, you will not learn the lesson it is here to teach you. If you embrace it with an intent to learn, you will be astounded at the gifts it has for you.


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