People vary in what they expect from others – some need financial assistance or tangible things money can buy, and others demand your time, attention or reassurance. There are some who claim it out of necessity, and others as a matter of right. Before, I evoke defensive responses in some of you, let me clarify that I believe in charity and I believe in helping those in need. It is desirable and highly recommended, actually, to share some of your good fortune with the less endowed, of your own initiative.
A leech (Hirudo medicinalis) beginning to suck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This post however discusses people who claim out of a sense of entitlement. Some call them free-riders, and others call them leeches, but the fact is that these people live off the hard-work, smarts or compassion or vulnerabilities of others.When applied to these individuals, you’ll discover that neediness is a state of mind more than a state of deprivation.
If you have lots of time at your hand, like I do, and know a few needy people, you’ll realize that they have a lot in common.
They are, to their credit, keen observers and resourceful people. If you have what they want, they’ll spot you from a mile and embark on instant rapport and trust building exercises. In fact, until they’re needing, they’re very charming people. A few steps into establishing trust, they may work to socially isolate you. You may notice yourself spending disproportionate amounts of time with them, by neglecting your person or by ignoring those around you, or worse, some of your former friends may actively start avoiding you, probably because of the way your *new, best friend* treated them behind your back! You’ll be amazed at the variety of tools that they employ – they can switch back and forth between the babe-in-the-woods, to the blood-sucking, blackmailer, and the shy, vulnerable man/woman, to the determined pushy individual that lurks underneath. If you’re stuck with them, don’t depend on them though. Most of them are selfish to the core. Once you’ve fallen into their trap, they can drain you with their incessant demands for whatever it is that they are after, without bothering to think of the negative impact it may have on you. Fortunately for you, when you are no longer able or willing to meet their demands, they turn bitter and eventually disappear.
While I am no expert on human behaviour, I suspect, that neediness has its roots in low self-esteem and a marked inaction to address the causes of low self-esteem. A needy person highly values wealth and social status. They are masters of illusion and excel at superficial expressions of success and achievement. Despite the fact that they’re determined in their pursuit of you, there is real inaction on their part to improve themselves. Their insecurities never really go away, no matter how much you feed them, because, deep-down they know they are inadequate and incompetent.
Now, I’m taking the liberty to make a sexist remark here. Neediness is more commonly observed in women rather than men. It is possible that women, especially in the East, are raised to be dependant, both mentally and physically, upon the men, or older, authority-holding women, in their lives. Because independent thinking and action is widely frowned upon, in time, the women learn to constantly seek approval for who they are and what they are doing. I’m sure though that they exist everywhere in both genders.
Because of the baggage these folks bring to relationships, it is best to run, before they invade your life. Speaking for myself, I am wary of unusually sweet people. If I am suddenly the centre of someone’s world, I would guard my wallet and my heart. There are other signs too. If someone’s income doesn’t explain their lifestyle, you want to be careful. If someone asks for a favour, without looking visibly embarrassed (never mind the words, watch the non-verbal cues), asking is not strange to them. If you’re barely acquainted with someone and they start pouring out dark and mushy secrets about their life, you ought to be suspicious. And here’s the over-arching rule, stay away from drama queens and drama queers.
Oh, by the way, if anything in this description sounds remotely like you, I have a few generous tips for you:
- Don’t take all the eggs out of a single basket/nest. Have at least 5-10 hens in your resource network.
- Pace your demands. Don’t ask more than two favours in a row, of the same individual.
- Don’t demand instant gratification. It triggers a fight-or-flight response in the other person.
- Choose your favours carefully. Several small ones can be more irritating than one big one.
Now that I’ve said what I’ve wanted to say, let me concede some ground. This post is not meant to be a harsh judgment on some persons. After all, we are all needy at some point or the other. And we need different things at different stages in our life. The challenge is to not let neediness become a habit or a lifestyle. To quote Mohammad (PBUH), ‘the hand that gives is better than the hand that receives’, so be the upper hand.