The cost of unexpressed needs in finding love


Kyle Benson

If you have an anxious attachment style, you may have experiences that make you feel like a burden in close relationships, so you hide your needs. Unfortunately, this positive intention backfires.  You end up feeling resentful for always giving and never getting. Then you get angry and start fights. Even over the little things.

One of the best ways to improve your relationships is to recognize and honor your relationship needs.

Now, this doesn’t mean calling your partner 20 times in an hour. This means understanding that if your partner is unwilling to meet your needs for intimacy, emotional availability, and security, then you’re going to be unhappy.

The key to improving your relationships starts with acknowledging your needs as legitimate. They’re not “needy, good, or bad.” In fact, Dr. Amir Levine, the author of Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love argues that “Dependency is not a bad word.”

When you stop letting people make you feel ashamed for acting needy, you empower yourself to find someone who can meet your needs and desire to be close.

One of the most secure things I’ve done is walk away from a relationship in which my partner was unwilling to meet my needs. It was painfully difficult, but looking back it was worth it.

“But Kyle… I’m already in a relationship and my needs are not met. What do I do?”

There are a few things you can do. You can start to examine your unmet needs and figure out ways you can express them in an actionable and positive way that gives your partner a roadmap to your heart. Doing this increases your chances of getting your needs met.

“Kyle… My partner is so needy… what do I do?”

Great question. Talk to your partner about their needs and learn how you can meet them. I believe people are only as needy as their unmet needs. While your partner’s needs may feel like a bottomless pit, they’re not. Often it is something you’re doing that is triggering their neediness. It’s a pattern the two of you are creating together.

“Okay… seriously Kyle… I’m an avoidant and I feel really blamed. Doesn’t my anxious partner need to change too?”

I’m sorry you’re feeling blamed. That’s not my intention. My goal is to offer advice on how to stop the roller coaster effect in your relationship. As the partner reading this email, you should focus on being the change you wish to see in your relationship. Ironically when one partner changes and maintains that change, the other partner is forced to change.

And I agree with you. The anxious partner does need to grow and learn to stand on their own two feet. And they also need to momentarily lean on you when something bad happens. This makes it easier for them to stand back on their feet.

Any insecure relationship requires growth by both partners to become more secure. But that growth begins with acceptance of each other’s needs and differences. As Stan Tatkin, PsyD put’s it, “No one changes from fundamentally insecure to fundamentally secure under conditions of fear, duress, disapproval, or threat of abandonment. I guarantee that will not happen. Only through acceptance, high regard, respect, devotion, support, and safety will anyone gradually grow more secure.”


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