You know how one minute you’re in a happy and fulfilling marriage and the next you find out that your husband of 20 years has been cheating on you with someone 10 years younger? Well I do. I went from country club wife and mother of high school students to a single, 39-year-old “cougar.”
In this weekly feature, I will share with you all the mind-boggling, head-scratching, is-this-someone’s-idea-of-a-joke moments from my so-called single life. Consider this your private invitation to my tremendous learning curve…
The guy you’re dating was so funny and quirky when you first started hanging out, and now he’s just… what’s the word? Clingy? Needy? Annoying? If you think you might be getting involved with an emotionally needy boyfriend, here is what you need to prepare for.
Distinguishing the emotionally needy
You may be wondering if your new man-friend is emotionally needy, and you don’t want to overreact or be rash if he isn’t. I have a solid frame of reference for this, but the first hint is if you are questioning whether or not you’re involved with a Stage Five Cling-on, then you probably are.
Here are a few subtle hints. If he has to be constantly reassured and praised, you are probably involved with a man who has been emotionally neglected and is looking to you to make up for it. Does he ask you 20 times how much you like the dinner he made, even though you’ve said, in as many languages as you can, that it’s awesome? Does he ask you if you like his new belt, every time he puts it on? When you text him to tell him how much you love (insert favorite hobby here), does he text back to ask if you love it more than you love him? (I kid you not. I had a boyfriend that did that.) If any of this is ringing a bell (or an alarm), what you’ve got yourself, honey, is an emotionally needy boyfriend.
Is it annoying or cute?
You may have figured out from my tone, that I found these personality traits to be annoying. But that is because I realized I was not in love with the guy. I have been in love, and I know that when that happens, you find a guy’s idiosyncrasies at a minimum cute and at a maximum endearing. This begs the question, is being emotionally needy ever cute or endearing? The answer probably lies in the degree to which your new potential match is sucking the life-blood from you and if you suffer from the same affliction.
What to do about it
Here is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, ladies. You can ride it out for a bit to see if his other qualities make up for having the emotional package of a 4-year-old. You have to determine what your threshold for neediness is. Some women need to be needed.
I bolted once I figured out that the guy I was seeing was an emotional preschooler. To me, breastfeeding a neglectful mother’s child is a young woman’s game. I’m in my 40s, and I’ve raised two kids, thank you very much. I have neither the time nor the inclination to mother a grown man. Sure I feel bad that some folks are carrying around tremendous voids, but as cold as it sounds, that’s not my problem. I’m all mothered out. My kids are adults. If they need me, I’m here. If you’re a gal who derives personal worth from being needed (more power to you!), then this could be the perfect situation for you. At my age, I need someone who doesn’t need to be so needy.