Help, My Boyfriend Is Needy! What Do I Do?

By Keelia Clarkson··  6 min read
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Sometimes, we’re not the needy one – our boyfriend is. So what should we do when he needs more attention than we’re used to giving?

We tend to make a lot of assumptions about guys – that they’re overly confident, that words don’t hurt them, that they don’t need as much of a community as we do, or that they’re not ones to be needy.

We often see men as being almost devoid of emotional needs and totally untouched by feelings; a lone wolf who’d rather do his own thing. But every now and then, we come across a guy who’s… more emotional than we are – and we’re not sure how to interpret it.

On one hand, it’s nice that he isn’t concerned with playing the macho guy, but instead is willing (enthusiastic, even) to talk through his feelings with us. But, on the other hand, it sometimes feels like he’s needier than we are – like he’s asking for more attention than we’re used to giving.

But should we see this as a bad thing? When does his penchant for emotions and attention become too needy?

Is It Emotional Intelligence or Neediness?

It’s an unfortunate truth that many young men aren’t ever taught how to process and handle their emotions in a healthy, productive way. Men being open with their emotions has often been seen as weak – the mental health stigma against men means that they’re more likely to suppress their feelings, even to their detriment. 

Emotional intelligence is the opposite of actual neediness.

So when we find a guy who actually wants to be emotional, vulnerable, and close to us – even more than we do – we automatically wonder if he’s just too needy for us. But there’s a huge difference between an emotionally intelligent, open guy and one who’s overly needy, which is a sure sign of emotional immaturity.

If He’s Emotionally Intelligent

A guy who has a healthy attitude towards and understanding of his own needs, desires, and emotions will seek to sift through his thoughts and feelings with his girlfriend. He’ll want us to be a sounding board, to encourage him when he’s down, and to be willing and available to talk when he needs us. Talking through what’s going on and connecting regularly is important to him.

Additionally, he might be acting according to his love languages, whether it’s physical touch, words of affirmation, or quality time. These relational love languages, which value close connection and intimacy, might come across as needy to someone whose love languages don’t line up with that.

But his love language and/or emotional intelligence isn’t something to shame or neglect, but instead, be thankful for – it only means he’s healthier than a guy who shoves his emotions down. We should attempt to understand him and satisfy his emotional needs.

If He’s Needy

A needy guy will also want to talk through his feelings and will crave love and attention from us – but the difference is that he’ll desire constant connection rather than quality connection. His need to be close to us at all times, whether physically or emotionally, stems from an unhealthy, immature, codependent place.

His need to be physically or emotionally close to us at all times stems from an unhealthy place.

He might say he’ll miss us too much if we bring up a girls’ trip we want to take up the coast with our friends, or he’ll read into it if we drop his hand while we’re walking, or he’ll say he doesn’t need friends because he has us.

He might seek out this kind of connection due to insecurity from past romantic relationships, his attachment style (which taught him how to behave and seek attention in relationships), codependency, or a multitude of other reasons.

How To Deal with Neediness

We’ll be upfront and say that, yes, neediness from an adult can get annoying pretty quickly – neediness is only understandable with children. And the last thing we want is to feel as though the guy we’re seeing is like a child to us. If we’ve found ourselves dating a guy who’s just a bit needy, but we still want to try and make it work, there are a few things we can do.

First, we have to be empathetic; it’s essential to understand why he’s needy – maybe he was cheated on, or maybe his parents were absent, or maybe he has always struggled with anxiety. Whatever his reason, if we desire to love him fully, this is something we’ll have to understand about him.

Next, it’s time to set boundaries – principles and healthy guidelines that affect how we allow others to treat us and how we treat ourselves. Boundaries, while sometimes uncomfortable to enforce, are absolutely necessary for any relationship to become mature and healthy.

Consider why exactly you feel his actions are needy as this will guide what your boundaries are. 

If our boyfriend is on the needy side, we need to consider why exactly we feel his actions are needy – this is how we’ll outline what our boundaries are. If he insists on physical contact all the time, we can be kind yet honest, saying we’d prefer to have a bit more personal space sometimes. If he wants us to hang out with him every evening instead of catching up with a friend, we can tell him that while we love watching movies with him, it’s important to nurture our friendships too. Setting a boundary won’t be simple or work perfectly the first time, but communicating our needs is crucial if we’re attempting to see if the relationship has the possibility of reaching marriage.

Lastly, we can attempt to restructure the dynamic of the relationship and the way love is expressed and received by thinking about what will make him feel loved despite our boundaries. Perhaps a night every week that’s always reserved for us as a couple, a sweet, affirming text in the morning that points out something specific we love about him, or holding hands during a movie? This is our opportunity to be creative and thoughtful while changing up our relationship’s unhealthy dynamics.

Closing Thoughts

Emotional guys aren’t necessarily needy. And needy guys aren’t necessarily evil – but they do need to grow out of their neediness, which is undoubtedly hindering their life in more ways than one. If we like him, it’s worth it to set boundaries and figure out how to love him well through that. 

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© 2022 Evie Magazine

Seek Truth. Find Beauty.

© 2022