Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's So Hard to Love a Needy Person

A needy adult is one who frequently and regularly wants more than you have to offer. They feel inadequate or lonely and they expect you or others to fix their problems and to "make them" feel needed, wanted and loved -- in short, feel better than they do on their own. (My comments here do not refer to children, teenagers, the elderly, or sick people -- though at times these folks can ask for more than you have to give.)

Certainly, there's nothing wrong with feeling loved and appreciated or with demonstrating affection. It can feel deeply satisfying to know you've helped someone who's having a hard time or to work side by side with a loved one.

However, some people's requests and demands don't seem to stop, no matter how much you do. If this is the case for you, and you're feeling drained and frustrated, be reassured you can definitely do something to feel better. Try these suggestions:
  • Recognize that both you and your TLO (troubled, troubling or troublesome loved one) have all the strength, value, and skills needed to live contentedly. Tell yourself, "We're both adults, and we both have all we need to do what is good in our lives."
  • Know that you cannot change the other person -- but you can change how you interact with him or her.
  • Consider what you've done so far to help this person. Pay attention to what happens when you do those things. Does the situation change? How, and for how long? Do some things you do work better than others? Does your TLO get better at solving her own problems?
  • Notice how you feel before, during and after your TLO asks for or demands your help.
  • Then, choose one situation that drains you and decide to change one of your responses to it.
  • Evaluate your new approach by writing it out or discussing it with somebody you trust.
  • Practice this new response until it feels comfortable and works at least most of the time. Or change your response until you find something that does help you feel less responsible for your TLO's situation.
  • Realize that these suggestions can help with many difficult interactions and that some changes will come quickly, while others will take longer. Be patient; we're all works in progress.
Remember that even if a needy person's demands never seem to end, you do not have to fulfill them. Helping is one thing; fixing everything is quite another. Give yourself permission to say "no" when you choose to, and you'll find more energy for moving forward and showing genuine love to others.

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