Interdependence with close friends and spouses is healthy. A shoulder to cry on, offered by a person with whom we can be ourselves, helps to establish the emotional security we need to face the world.
However, some habits and relationships are detrimental. When we continually return to emotionally withholding friends, are addicted to approval or constantly find ourselves entangled in the problems of others, we may be emotionally dependent.
Webster’s defines "neediness" as “marked by want of affection, attention, or emotional support.” Here are some examples of neediness, and some empowering practices for setting yourself free.
1) Mean Girls
PROBLEM: You find yourself stuck in a group of unsupportive friends. They are condescending or dismissive, often saying, “Oh, that is so like you,” or “There you go again.” They cast knowing glances at one another when you speak.
There’s a saying, “Before you decide you’re depressed, make sure you aren’t just surrounded by a$$holes.”
SOLUTION: Surround yourself with healthier women. Find a cause you care about. Volunteer for a non-profit, a political campaign or at the library. People working together for a common purpose have less time for backbiting and pettiness.
Still finding yourself among the meanies? Keep looking. Join a community sport or fitness class, book club or professional organization. Don’t settle for dysfunction.
2) Longing for Approval
PROBLEM: Is the need for approval defining how you relate to the world?
On the extroverted end of the spectrum are those who tend to be a bit braggy, regaling people with their accomplishments and dropping names.
On the introverted end, perhaps you repeatedly ask your partner for affirmation of his love and attraction to you. You hesitate to express unpopular opinions, or you accept lower pay than you’re worth.
SOLUTION: Look inward instead of outward. Honestly assess your abilities. Update your resume, sign up for a class, toss old clothes, exercise and eat healthy. Do the next right thing in every situation.