How to Meet Your Needs Without Being Needy

September 24th, 2013 by Steve Pavlina

On the one hand, we’re taught that we have certain needs as human beings, including survival needs (food, water, shelter, etc), emotional needs (belongingness, love), self esteem needs, etc.

Whether or not all of these concepts qualify as true needs is debatable. The idea of there being a clear hierarchy of needs, such as Maslow’s, is debatable too — and as far as I can tell, that model has been pretty well debunked.¬†But we can probably agree that some non-essential aspects of living can preoccupy us at times, giving us the perception that these unsatisfied elements qualify as unmet needs.

On the other hand, we’re also taught that it’s undesirable to be needy or clingy, as if needy people have been afflicted with a disease that we wouldn’t want to catch.

Needs vs. Neediness

What’s the difference between having needs and being needy? It has to do with how you approach getting your needs met.

There’s nothing wrong with having needs and wanting to see them met. That’s perfectly fine and doesn’t automatically lead to neediness. What causes neediness is when the supply is scarce. This can lead to a competitive stance, whereby meeting your needs requires that someone else must necessarily have their needs unfulfilled.

If you need water and there’s a scarcity of water, that can certainly put you in a needy situation. You may experience thirst, and when you’re in that state, you’ll go out of your way to quench that thirst. If other people want water too, but there isn’t enough to go around, the landscape becomes competitive. Someone may end up going without.

What about emotional needs? The same situation can come up. For example, if you perceive that you have a need for touch and affection, then whether you’ll experience neediness or not depends on the scarcity or abundance of people willing and able to help you meet that need.

If you perceive this supply as scarce, you’re likely to feel needy, which encourages you and others to assume a socially competitive posture.

But if you have a need and there’s an abundant supply that you can access, you’re unlikely to feel needy. You can simply go and access that supply whenever you want, and you won’t deplete the supply enough to feel that you’re in competition with others.

Accessibility

Accessibility is a key factor here. For some emotional needs, there may technically be a vast supply available, but you may find that supply inaccessible at times. Often this is due to a lack of skill or some limiting beliefs that prevent you from having full access to the resource.

Suppose you perceive a strong need for sharing touch with other people. The supply is readily available. There are billions of other people on earth, and many of them would love to share touch.

But how easily can you access this supply? Have you developed the social skills to invite people to share touch with you, such that your invitations are accepted often enough to satisfy your needs?

Also, do you have any limiting beliefs that might be getting in the way of accessing the supply of available partners? Do you feel it’s odd or problematic to invite someone to help you meet this need? Would you feel uncomfortable issuing such invitations?

Do you artificially constrain the supply, such as by holding a belief that you can only share touch with someone you’re in a committed relationship with?

Chasing and Clinging

Usually when people feel emotionally needy, there’s a ready supply of people who could help them satisfy their need with ease. The neediness is really caused by self-imposed and/or socially conditioned limitations that artificially limit the person’s ability to access that supply.

When a person feels needy, they’ll often exhibit behaviors that can be classified as chasing and clinging.

Chasing occurs when someone perceives a potential supplier for their need, but the supplier isn’t completely willing to meet that need. But since this person doesn’t perceive many other viable options, it becomes their goal to convince, persuade, or manipulate this supplier into a position of satisfying the unmet need.

Clinging occurs when a supplier is secured, but the person still doesn’t feel they have many other good options, so they do their best to cage or trap this supplier, warding off any potential threats to the supplier relationship. The perceived difficulty of replacing the supplier incites clingy behavior.

Both of these behaviors are artifacts of a competitive scarcity mindset. Fortunately they can be overcome, sometimes by building better social skills, sometimes by overcoming limiting beliefs, and sometimes by a combo approach.

Needs and Open Relationships

One thing I really like about maintaining an open relationship posture is that it increases the supply of people who can help me meet my emotional needs.

In a closed relationship, I’m constraining my options, telling myself that I can only get certain needs met by one particular individual. If that individual is always readily available and willing to help me meet these needs, I can still feel a sense of abundance, and I wouldn’t feel any sense of clinginess.

But what if that individual isn’t always available or willing to help me meet my needs? Or what if she was difficult to find, and I think it would be tough to secure another willing and available partner? Then chasing and clinginess could infect my behavior patterns. And this can make it even more difficult to meet these needs.

Acknowledging Your Needs

One of my emotional needs is that I need to be touched a lot. It’s not a core survival need — without touch I won’t die — but I’ve seen that I function much better physically, mentally, and emotionally when I share a lot of touch.¬†Ideally I like to be in direct physical contact with a woman for at least an hour each day, if not several hours (such as by cuddle-sleeping together at night).

With an incompatible partner who doesn’t like to be touched so much, I could end up being very needy and clingy if we were in an exclusive relationship together. That type of relationship would bring out my worst qualities. I’d feel a sense of scarcity. I’d feel sad, frustrated, or depressed that I’m not getting my needs met very well. I might spend a lot of time talking to my partner, trying to convince her to be more touch-friendly. I might blame myself for being so needy. I might try to let go of this need. In the long run, I might become resentful towards my partner, or numb and apathetic (turning off all my emotions to avoid feeling the sadness and disappointment), or just plain helpless. If I couldn’t meet this need, it could be difficult for me to function at my best. It would feel like something important was missing from my life.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead I could go another route entirely. I could clarify, acknowledge, accept, own, and then broadcast what I desire. I could recognize that if I like sharing touch so much, and if I feel it benefits me, perhaps there are some women out there who are very much like me. And perhaps it would be really nice to connect with a woman like that. Then we could cuddle each other as much as we wanted — for hours per day if we felt like it. I’d be happy with that arrangement for sure. And if she’s like me, then she’d be happy too.

Meeting Your Needs

Now if you have a difficult need to meet, you might conclude that it’s not worth the effort. Maybe you should just do without it and try to let it go. And perhaps with some effort, you could succeed. But this could consume a lot of extra mental and emotional effort.

On the other hand, what if there’s a ready supply available? What if the main obstacles are your own limiting beliefs and lack of skill? Then you just need to overcome those blocks once, and afterwards you’ll be able to meet your need with ease, as much as you desire, whenever you desire.

That’s the approach I used to satisfy my need for touch. I tried the old route of suppressing the need, but I always found that approach lacking — and rather distracting.

Several years ago I decided to explore the opposite approach. First, I worked on my beliefs. I was able to release my limiting beliefs about sharing touch largely by acknowledging that if I appreciate touch so much, then probably lots of other people feel this way as well. So all I really need to do is find some of those people (or make it easy for them to find me) and invite them to touch. If they feel as I do, then there shouldn’t be any problems. We share touch, such as by cuddling together. We feel good. And everyone is happy. And we can do this repeatedly as much as we want.

I can also do other things while sharing touch with someone, such as having an interesting conversation… or sleeping… or watching a movie… or holding hands while going for a walk. So I don’t necessarily have to dedicate a lot more time to meeting this need. I can simply adjust my lifestyle a bit to make touch a more integral part of it.

Then we have the skill-building aspect. First there’s the skill of inviting touch. And then there’s the skill of actually touching. Those both seemed like fun and interesting skills to further develop. I embarked on a path of developing both sets of skills.

I practiced inviting women to share touch in a variety of ways. And I got very good at this — and felt very comfortable with it. Even when I was just beginning to explore this, almost every invite resulted in a yes, which was encouraging. So my assumption that many women felt as I did turned out to be accurate. All I really needed to do was to start putting out invitations… and to let that develop into an ongoing habit.

I also practiced the skill of sharing touch, which involved trying different things to see what felt good to me and the other person — cuddle sessions, spooning, light touch, massage, sensual touching, head scratchings, kissing, etc. That was simple, easy, and fun. It was rewarding to develop more experience and confidence in making people feel good through touch… and in teaching them how to make me feel good.

I remember one time when a woman asked me what I liked, and I told her that I loved head scratchings. She then proceeded to give me a really delightful head scratching while I rested my head in her lap — for 30 minutes straight! I was totally blissed out by the end of it and thanked her profusely. She replied, “Well, you told me what you liked, so why wouldn’t I do lots of that?” I told her I wished more women were like her.

It turns out that there are indeed a lot more women like her. I just needed some time to find and connect with them.

Abundance

The result of this approach has been a feeling of abundance. Now my life is rich with sharing touch — full of hugs, cuddling, and more. If I go some days without touching, it’s normally by choice, not because I can’t access the supply of potential partners.

Meeting this need doesn’t require any chasing or clinginess. The supply of people who enjoy touch is vast enough that I can simply focus on connecting with women who already appreciate touch as much as I do. There’s never a need to try to convince someone to share touch. If I perceive any resistance to such an invitation, I let go and move on. I know I can get this need met elsewhere, so there’s no point in getting clinging with a single unwilling non-supplier.

I’ve also noticed that as I’ve become more comfortable with this approach, and as I’ve stepped into the reality where I know how to meet this need very easily, all the neediness has left me. Now I can continue to meet this need abundantly without doing much inviting at all, largely by accepting invitations from others.

I’ve had many similar experiences with respect to shifting from scarcity to abundance. The same process plays out with financial abundance, for instance. Learn to release limiting beliefs and develop the necessary skills, and you can eventually earn more money than you need. Then you may find that after you’ve released your financial neediness, the money continues to flow with even greater ease. New opportunities start coming to you, so you don’t even have to seek them out anymore, even though you could if you wanted to.

Gratitude

When I go through the process of releasing some form of scarcity thinking and replacing it with an abundance mindset and heartset, the result is a feeling of gratitude. This helps to lock in the new reality, making it easy to maintain.

One reason I receive invitations to share touch with other people is because I no longer feel any neediness. I expect and anticipate that this need will continue to be well met henceforth, even with minimal action on my part.

Most days people spontaneously offer me hugs. Women frequently offer to cuddle with me. Or a pre-existing cuddle partner is readily available. It’s nice to be on the abundance side for sure, and I’m grateful for it — because I still remember what it was like to be on the scarcity side and how that felt.

Here’s a video of a talk I gave last week in Bucharest. In the video I’m speaking to a group of mostly Romanian entrepreneurs and independent business professionals about how to create a more fulfilling lifestyle. Feel free to watch the whole video later if this topic appeals to you.

If you watch just the 90 seconds from 32:20 until 33:49 (already queued up for your convenience), you’ll see two people from the audience come up and hug me during the Q&A portion. Do I look like I enjoy those hugs? Of course I do. That appreciation comes from the part of me that remembers what it was like not to have this energy in my life.

The benefit of experiencing scarcity first and then growing into abundance is the gratitude effect. When I’m holding a woman in my arms and we’re both feeling lovey-dovey towards each other, I feel immense gratitude that I’m able to invite and receive that kind of experience. I often tell women this too. These experiences are such a gift to me. I never take them for granted. Every experience of touch is precious to me.

Here’s a picture of me and two women enjoying some very nice heart-centered cuddling. Don’t we look happy? :)

Cuddling

When your needs are well met, you can essentially release them. Eventually you stop thinking about them as needs. Your old needs transform into new sources of gratitude and fulfillment.

By adding an extra thread of gratitude in your life, while simultaneously replacing a previous thread of neediness, you can significantly upgrade your default vibe as well as your overall quality of life. I find a cuddle-rich life to be of higher quality than a cuddle-scarce life. I’ve explored both possibilities, so I speak from direct experience. Cuddle abundance feels better to me.

It can take some time to feel that you’ve completed such an upgrade (often years), but when you reach the other side at least once (financially, socially, or otherwise), I think you’ll agree that the investment is worth the time and energy required.

Where in your life are you feeling neediness or scarcity? Where do you catch yourself chasing or clinging? Are you willing to commit yourself to a long-term, two-pronged approach that includes upgrading relevant skills and releasing limiting beliefs? If so, then I expect you’ll eventually succeed. It may take a while, but those years are going to pass anyway. You might as well emerge at some point in the future with the ability to meet your needs so abundantly well that you no longer perceive them as needs. When that future time becomes your present reality, you’ll be grateful that you made such a commitment.

I’m immensely grateful to my past self for making such a commitment to inviting and sharing touch with willing partners. I wouldn’t say it was particularly difficult, but it did take a certain level of dedication to growth in this area, as well as dealing with some occasional awkward moments. In my opinion it was worth it though. I must say that I absolutely love life on the other side of this need. It’s quite rewarding to land in a country I’ve never visited before and know that even if I don’t make a conscious effort of it, my desire to share touch will be easily fulfilled by delightful, heart-centered people. It’s also nice to know that I’m helping to meet their needs as well. :)



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