Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
The Difference Between Having Needs and Being Needy


The question for our consideration is, “Is there a difference between being needy and having needs?” No doubt there are some of us who confuse being needy and having needs as being the same. There is a huge difference.  We all have needs that we want met and unless we let our partner know what those needs are, our partner will not feel close or needed. Some of us have a difficult time asking for our needs to be met because we do not want to appear needy. Our partner has to guess what we need.

The fear of being seen as needy keeps many of us from presenting our needs. We do not want to be labeled as codependent. Consequently, we may  feel unappreciated and believe that no one cares about us.

To present our needs
to our partner
does not make us needy.

Being needy is like an example that I have used before – the esteem bucket. We try to put things in the bucket to make us feel better. If I get that degree, I will feel great. But the accomplishment of earning a degree lasts only for a while, and then we have to look for something else to put in the bucket.

The problem is the bucket has a hole in it so nothing lasts. When we feel empty and our bucket seems empty, we may hand the bucket to our partner and insist that he or she  is  responsible for filling the bucket. We soon find that does not work either. This is a good example of being needy. No matter what we do or others do, it is never enough. Somehow we have to fill in the holes that are in our buckets and realize that we are the only ones that can make ourselves happy or fulfilled. It is our job, and no one else's.

The next question is, “So what are the needs that we need to fill?” While there are several needs, Dr. William Glasser suggests  that there are  some basic ones. 1) The need to belong – this is one of our strongest needs. We have a need to love and be loved, to belong and have friends. This need is said to be as strong as the need to survive. 2) The need for power – this is about a sense of self-worth that comes from accomplishments and recognition. It is about having control of our lives and the power to make choices. 3) The need for freedom – we can make our own choices and we are free from the control of others. 4) The need for fun – having fun is about being happy. When we are having fun, we feel safe in the relationship and can relax.

To present our needs to our partner does not make us needy. When we share our needs, it helps our partner learn how to love us better.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700