Relationship Advice Tips By Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

relationship advice psychotherapy to deal with shame of feeling needy

Clayton chokes with disgust when he feels ‘needy.’

Do you do everything you can to avoid feeling needy?  Are you disgusted and ashamed of yourself when you feel the need for reassurance, affection, closeness or comfort?  The secret to feeling self-assured and competent is the greatest paradox you can imagine.  Clayton’s story describes his failure to avoid being needy until he practiced using the two secret tools I gave him.

Clayton prided himself on being a kind, generous, thoughtful and considerate man. He offered to do things for others even before they had a need. It made him feel useful and better than everyone else because they were the needy ones, not Clayton.

relationship adivce psychotherapy to deal with shame of feeling needy

Clayton’s disguised need made Sandy feel pinned down and insulted

Clayton’s mistake: turning his need into Sandy’s need.

After a lovely evening out with his girlfriend, Clayton wished they could linger into the night, holding each other and falling asleep in each others arms. Sandy talked of going home and getting ready for a busy schedule the next day. She was saying goodnight. Clayton asked if he could take her home and make sure she got there safely. Sandy got angry, and responded by saying, “I can drive myself home. I’m not a baby and I’m not drunk!”

relationship advice psychotherapy to deal with shame of being needy

Everything crumbled when Clayton’s remarks backfired

Clayton was deeply hurt and taken aback by Sandy’s rejection of his protective efforts.

Why? Because Clayton had denied his need to extend the contact with Sandy and turned it into her need to be protected from an imagined danger. He didn’t want to risk being the only one who wanted to make the evening last longer, so he disowned his need instantaneously and gave it to Sandy.

 That way he could avoid feeling weak and needy.

 That way he could avoid feeling ashamed of wanting more time with his girlfriend.

 Instead he could feel chivalrous and gentlemanly, thoughtful and unselfish.

 Sandy was insulted and rebuffed Clayton

Sandy got upset and rebuffed him because he insulted her ability to figure out her own needs and take the action she felt appropriate. In trying to safeguard his shame about feeling needy, Clayton threw the shame at Sandy making her feel that she wasn’t fit to take care of herself.  Her anger was aimed at the ‘rat’ she smelled when Clayton offered to drive her home. The rat smelled like a fake and underhanded attempt to ask her to stay with Clayton for a longer period of time. It made her feel like he had no sense of what her needs and wishes were, but assumed anyway,   incorrectly.

Just because Clayton hated feeling his neediness legitimate or otherwise, doesn’t mean Sandy was in the same boat.  Assuming that she was a clone of himself, hating her neediness he made the mistake of trying to rescue her from something she was perfectly capable of doing herself.

relationship advice psychotherapy for dealing with shame of feeling needy

Sandy was okay with her needs and could ask for them to be when when appropriate.

She wasn’t ashamed of them.

She needed to go home and told Clayton so.

She was being up front and honest.

She didn’t care for Clayton’s dishonesty with himself and with her.


Clayton’s mistake backfired and made him more needy than ever!

Getting pushed away quite roughly by Sandy disoriented Clayton.

He lost the ground under his feet.

He got stressed and anxious not knowing  how to manage this situation.

His need for reassurance and comfort skyrocketed.

relationship advice psychotherapy to deal with shame of feeling needy

Clayton covers his face in shame as his strategy backfires

Clayton’s perfectly normal need now became a massive uncontainable need

He was left completely alone and drowning in shame.

 Two ways Clayton can avoid the shame of feeling needy and being rebuffed in the process

1.       1. Legitimize his wish to spend more time with Sandy.

  • There is nothing weak, wrong or needy about it.
  • In fact it says that the relationship is valuable and worth pursuing.
  • It is a sign that things are going well between them.
  • It is only natural to want the evening to last longer.
  • Something so natural and normal is not being weak, or needy.

2.      2.Tell Sandy he is disappointed that she needs to go home. Tell her that he would have liked them to have more time together because it was so good.

  •  That would make Sandy feel wanted and respected not insulted or ‘fitted up.’
  •  It may have made her share that she too would have liked to extend the evening but has to get ready for the next day.
  •  Hearing Sandy have the same need would put Clayton  in the same place – not more or less needy. Just legitimately wanting more of a good thing.

Mutual needs acknowledged and spoken up front in a relationship keep the connection truthful, safe and trustworthy. It provides the security Clayton needs to avoid the shame of feeling needy.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 

 Disclaimer: this material is for educational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Jeanette Raymond for any emotional reaction you may have when reading this article or using the suggestions outlined. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond.

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