Neediness vs. openness

I went for a walk and some “girl talk” with one of my closest friends this morning. As we were giving each other updates about our lives, the topic of a new girl that my friend has started to see came up. “She’s a cool girl but I think that she may be needy. She’s pretty eager to hang out…” he told me. She was direct about the fact that she wanted to see him and to make time for him whenever he was free. My initial reaction was to agree with him. Hmmmm that does sound like a red flag. But that didn’t feel right after it came out of my mouth. Why does it sound like a red flag? Why is my initial reaction to agree that it’s a red flag?

Maybe it sounds like a red flag because it’s scary. Maybe it sounds like a red flag because the initial reaction is to push when someone starts to pull a little. Maybe it sounds like a red flag because initially, someone’s directness in liking us makes us feel like they want something from us… want a piece of us and then all of a sudden our mind starts racing and we think they want a commitment, a white house and picket fence, three kids, and a fat cat ironically named Rover. But is that really it?

“Maybe she just likes you. Maybe she just likes you and wants to get to know you more and that’s that. Nothing more and nothing less. She likes you and is secure with letting you know that.” He agreed. Then we started to talk about the difference between “needy” and just being emotionally honest. “Needy” is not giving you space and messaging you 36348 times when you’re out with your friends. “Needy” is getting upset that you have other interests in your life and things that you want to do independently. “Needy” is not giving you room to breathe. And what “needy” means to us may actually be heaven for someone else. The key is open communication…

When I got home from our walk I reflected some more. The last person that I dated was very emotionally honest in liking me from the get-go, but told me this in a way that didn’t make me run for the door. After the end of our third or fourth hang-out we talked about getting together again, at which point I awkwardly blurted out that I’m an Aquarius, which makes me a bird, which means that I get scared of losing my independence and being caged, even when I like someone. Instead of reacting by emotionally shutting down or putting up a wall, this person validated my feelings and told me that she liked me, so she was more than happy to give me the space that I needed in order to let things develop. You don’t even know how refreshing that was to hear. And so we proceeded in this space of total honesty, knowing that we liked each other and wanted to get to know each other more – nothing more, nothing less – so we could just “be” and have fun and fully express ourselves without worry of the other reading into things. In the end it didn’t work out and I learned that I need my partner to brood about the Universe and to identify spiritual development as one of the most important facets of her being. The experience also allowed me to have a new perspective on my friend’s budding relationship. It’s all about creating safe spaces anchored in honesty… and having the openness to establish this. In the past, I’ve been too emotionally shut down to initiate such a conversation… but on the bright side… awareness is the first step in breaking old patterns… then comes the leap of faith…

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