Forget material needs for a just second, and let’s talk about emotional needs. We all have vastly different emotional needs, and part is based on how we were nurtured, the other part is nature. Another factor that plays a part is a person’s situation at a particular time– so for example, when someone is outside his/her comfort zone (such as in the beginning stages of dating) or when s/he is trying to recover from a traumatic event (such as a divorce), that person may be more needy at that particular time than s/he normally would be in life. So, what’s my point? Let’s cut others some slack, and instead of making assumptions and/or passing judgment on others, just focus on yourself.
So, how emotionally needy are you? There is no denying the fact that gender plays a part in this, and generally speaking, women are more emotional than men (which is why more divorces are initiated by women instead of men.) Keeping this in mind, then think back to your childhood. What were your role models like? How were you raised? Were you an only child who got lots of attention or the middle child that was neither the first born nor the baby of the family? Believe it or not, these things continue to matter long after we enter adulthood.
Now as an adult, be honest with yourself about the kind of personality you have developed. Are you a true extrovert, or a closet introvert? Do you like a lot of time alone, or do you need to be surrounded constantly by others– and why is that? Are you secure in your attachments or do you tend to have an anxious or detached attachment style? How important is it to you to connect on a regular basis with those you love?
After my divorce, I had ten years to work through all of these questions– unfortunately, in retrospect I should have worked through all of them before I got married. While I definitely knew who and what I wanted to be when I grew up even as a teenager, and there was no doubt that I was book smart, there was a lot I had not figured out emotionally, particularly about myself. Rather than deal with my past, I tried to bury it. That pretty much blew up in my face, forcing me to confront my demons after my marriage fell apart.
Over the past decade, I have encountered a lot of different personalities throughout my own journey to self-awareness. These experiences helped me understand that not all 16 personality types are able to co-exist, in fact many of them will drive you nuts. No one personality is better than another, it’s just that we need to learn to sometimes just agree to disagree, and just live and let live.
I accept now that I was blessed to be raised as an only child, showered with attention, who had a loving grandmother that ate dinner with me every night, hugged and kissed me good night, and never passed judgment on me for the first fourteen years of my life, until I went off to boarding school. Away from home, I always found people to eat and talk with me, and I was fortunate to develop many close and loving friendships. Everyone in my life supported my academic pursuits and career choices, and without all these wonderful people I would not be where I am today. But not everyone has that kind of upbringing, and some have to learn very early on to not count on others. Some have to learn to build up walls. Many have to learn not to show vulnerability. The irony is however, you cannot let love into your world until you do count on others, let down your guard and show your most vulnerable side.
To survive, I definitely understand how it can be necessary to learn to not show your needy side to everyone, but be honest with yourself at least that we all have needs, and if you want real love to come into your life, you are going to have to show that needy side. Those that are compatible with you will love you that much more for showing that you are human too.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.