ATTENTION: It’s about to get hella personal up in here. You’ve been warned.
So a few weeks ago I called one of my closest girlfriends in tears. I wasn’t exactly sure why I was so upset, but just felt this icky sense I wasn’t as much of a priority to her as I used to be (She recently started dating someone new and has become a lot busier with work). Though I fully expected a flood of reassurances and I’m sorry I miss you toos, they never came.
Instead, she basically told me what no self-respecting woman/aspiring life coach ever wants to hear. Essentially: You’re too needy. You depend on me too much for emotional support. The friendship feels draining.
Shocked, my initial response was to feel super defensive and accuse her of being unsupportive and a bad friend.
But because I really do value this relationship and am committed to self-improvement, I decided to pray about the situation and asked The Universe to help me learn whatever lesson or nugget of wisdom it had for me.
And boy did it deliver!
After some journaling (and several versions of this blog post) I began to realize that I had made this friendship “special” in a way that was actually pretty unfair to my friend. Because I considered her to be my “best” friend (so middle school, I know), I’d started to rely on her almost exclusively for emotional support. I would frequently call her just to process my feelings and felt jealous of her friendships with others. If for whatever reason she wasn’t able to provide the support I craved I would get super irritated and upset. I even once got mad at her for not talking to me for two days when she had lost her voice.
Total crazytown, right?!
But when you’re in it, you sometimes don’t realize how unhealthy your behavior has become.
Though this is the first time this type of dependent relationship has really come up for me in a friendship with another woman, I’ve definitely experienced a similar dynamic with past boyfriends; overreacting when they didn’t say quite the right thing when I was upset and needing excessive reassurance about how much they loved me.
I guess I’d always thought it was normal to have some level of emotional dependence and jealousy in romantic relationships, and pretty much chalked it up to the popular cultural narrative that guys just aren’t that good at providing emotional support. But having a close girlfriend (who is pretty damn self-aware) say these things to me really altered my perspective.
I now think that when you treat someone like an emotional security blanket and make them more “special” and “important” than everyone else in your life, you’re bound create one hot co-dependent mess! Whether it’s with your boyfriend, best friend, mom or anyone else for that matter, you set that person (and the relationship) up to fail because no one person will ever meet 100% your needs. It’s simply not possible.
Additionally, when you decide to rely exclusively on a single person for emotional support, you close yourself off to a whole host of other support available to you. Other friends, a therapist, a life coach, activities you love, or even God (if that resonates with you) can be wonderful sources of love and support if you are open to them.
Now my intention with this post is in no way to suggest that it’s “wrong” to feel clingy, needy, or overly dependent. It’s actually deeply human to crave emotional support and signifies that you are an alive and loving person (go you!). What I am suggesting is that you stop making one relationship more “special” than the rest and expecting to get all of your emotional support from that person. Not only is it unfair to guilt-trip someone for not meeting all of your emotional needs, your dependence might sabotage an otherwise beautiful relationship.
So what DO you do if you’re feeling super dependent, emotional and all around crazy around a relationship in your life?
So glad you asked.
1) First, forgive yourself. These feelings are NORMAL and there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling them. It’s actually really brave to admit feeling needy and dependent in our “he’s just not that into you” culture. Many people refuse to acknowledge these “un-cool” feelings at all and instead lash out at the object of their neediness (gossiping about them to other friends, pulling away from the relationship, or blaming them for the way we feel). Acknowledging how you really feel is half the battle.
2) The next step is to get all of your feelings out onto the pages of a journal (or Microsoft Word document)., Write everything down, letting all the shameful painful icky bits just pour out onto the page. Articulate your deepest fears about the relationship such as, “I’m not good enough”, “They don’t love me as much as I love them” or my personal favorite, “I’ll be alone forever”. Remember, this is for your eyes only.
3) Once you’ve unleashed all your feelings, insecurities and worst-case scenarios onto the page, you’ll likely feel a sense of relief. You may even laugh at some of the ridiculous things that came out (we really are our own worst enemies). Now it’s time to go through what you’ve written and underline any assumptions you’ve made. For each one, ask yourself, “How true is this really?”, “Does this belief serve me?” and “what are some examples that contradict this belief?”.
4) After re-visiting what you’ve written and questioning your assumptions, do something to release the whole experience to the Universe in whatever form feels right to you. If you’re into rituals (you witchy thang you 😉 ), consider burning the journal pages, saying a prayer, or repeating a mantra such as: Universe I surrender to your divine wisdom. Support me as I learn whatever lesson this situation is here to teach me.
5) Next, listen for intuitive hits on how to proceed. Do you feel an urge to have a conversation with the person in question? Does a book on co-dependence fall off the bookshelf? Do you hear a new song on the radio with a message that so resonates with how you’re feeling it’s eerie? When you surrender to the Universe and are open to signs, you will receive all the guidance you need to move forward.
6) Lastly, start investing in a care team. Regardless of what happens with the relationship in question, it’s important to set yourself up for success, and one of the best ways to do this is to diversify the ways in which you get support during times of need (I’d like to credit my kick ass friend and fellow life coach Katie DePaola for introducing me to this powerful concept). Your care team might include several friends/family members, a therapist, life coach, mentor, spiritual counselor, personal trainer, nutritionist or anyone else that feels right to you.
A care team provides you with a strong foundation so that when things don’t go as planned, you won’t be so easily knocked off balance. It will also force you not to put too much pressure on a single person to help you deal with your emotions. And by making this kind of investment, you send a powerful message to the Universe that you’re feelings are worth investigating and that you are committed to living your best life possible (hell yeah girl!).
So now it’s your turn: Do you experience neediness in relationships? Have any tips for getting past it? I would LOVE to hear them in the comments section below. And if you want to consider adding me to your care team (I’d be honored!), email me at Rebecca@thepursuitoffabulous.com for a complementary coaching consultation!
Here’s to kissing co-dependence buh-bye and and creating oh so healthy relationships!