Why Are My Partners Always Needy – Dr. Margaret Paul

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Another great piece by Margaret Paul – told from a man’s point of view – so that we can see how this works for us women so very clearly…

By Dr. Margaret Paul
June 01, 2010

If you have the experience of always meeting needy or controlling people, it is likely because you are also needy and controlling and don’t realize it.

Angelo had been married to Serena for 15 years before divorcing. In his marriage, Angelo was a caretaker, always trying to please Serena, always trying to get her approval and avoid her disapproval. Serena was a taker – handing responsibility to Angelo for her happiness and often angry with him when he didn’t do what she wanted. Inside, Serena was deeply insecure, too insecure to even work, so she completely relied on Angelo financially.

Angelo felt very lonely in his marriage, which is what led to his decision to divorce.

“There was no love or affection, just demands,” Angelo told me in our first phone session.

Soon after separating from Serena, Angelo met Barbara. At the beginning Barbara was kind and affectionate, seemingly totally different than Serena.

But within a few months, she too become demanding, often complaining that Angelo wasn’t spending enough time with her. When they were together, she was often depressed, complaining that Angelo was not there for her. This is what led Angelo to seek my help.

“Why are my partners always needy? Aren’t there any women out there who are not needy?”

“Yes, there are many,” I told him, “but people come together at their common level of self-abandonment. This means that the level to which you abandon yourself with your caretaking others and trying to get love from them, is the same level at which the women you attract abandon themselves – trying to get you to take care of them. If you want to attract women who are not needy, then you need to learn to not be needy yourself.”

Angelo had never thought of himself as needy. He did not realize that caretaking others is a form of control to try to get the other person to give him the love that he had never learned to give to himself – to fill the emptiness that he was causing with his self-abandonment.

As we worked together with the Inner Bonding® process, Angelo gradually discovered how much he was abandoning himself. He saw that he never paid attention to his own feelings, staying up in his head and turning to various addictions instead of being present in his body. He realized that he never took responsibility for how empty he felt when he gave himself up or judged himself.

He began to realize that his self-judgments, compliance, addictions, and making others responsible for his feelings were making him feel anxious, depressed, and needy. He was shocked to discover that, while he was a caretaker rather than a taker and didn’t make the kind of demands on others that the women in his life made of him, he was abandoning himself as much as they were abandoning themselves – and was therefore just as needy.

Angelo soon realized that if he wanted to attract a loving and caring woman who took responsibility for herself, he would have to learn to be loving and caring toward himself. This was a challenge for him, as he had been erroneously taught that taking care of oneself is selfish instead of self-responsible. When he was young and tried to take care of himself instead of caretaking his mother, she would accuse him of being selfish.

As Angelo learned to take loving care of himself, he started to meet a very different kind of woman. He was surprised and delighted to discover that there are many women in the world who are not needy!

From Rori: This is all about what Overfunctioning is. How it’s just the flip side of neediness – and it just looks different from the men we encounter who seem “slothful takers.”

I find it so interesting to have Margaret put this to us in the frame of a man’s issue – so we can see that the psychological thing going on here is the exact same for us as for a man…and that if we’re continually attracting “feminine energy, slothful, needy men who try to hard to get something from us…” it’s just the mirror image of what we’re doing.

It’s just that it looks so different – what we do and what he does – it seems like opposites – when actually it’s just the “flip side” of the same coin.

So – ask yourself the main question Margaret brings up here …”How am I abandoning myself?” “How am I not filling myself up?”

And as you ask these questions and answer them — that’s your path to a man who can match you, truly, in a way that feels GREAT!

AND – keep this in mind – the man who can step up like this may be the man right in front of you – the man you’re already with! All that might have to happen is for you to start filling yourself up more – and that will automatically shift what’s in HIS “tank.”

As always, you can find Margaret at www.InnerBonding.com.

Love, Rori

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  1.  #1Lizzie on June 30, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I learned a really important lesson from my son (age 12) today – over the past few months he has been reading every Twilight book, working and saving money and has waited in anticipation of the movie release that happened at midnight last night. Today, he was planning on going to the cinema to see the movie at 1:PM.
    I had to run an errand and be somewhere at 1:00 so offered to drop him half way to the cinema.
    He declined.
    Being the mom – I insisted.
    He declined again and with more negative emotion
    I asked why?
    He said he had lost his wallet
    I said I would help him find it.
    He declined my help.
    I insisted.
    He got angry.
    I began helping.
    He became more angry, told me to stop and get out of his room.
    I refused and kept telling him I was helping.
    Then I said I would give him the money.
    He declined and said he wouldn’t go.
    I said that was silly and to take the money, it didn’t matter.
    (so can you see how I was leaning over almost flat?!)
    Now we were shouting at each other!
    Finally, I said fine I was leaving and he could clean up and maybe if he finds his wallet, he could go later.
    At which point – he found his wallet.
    So I offered to drop him near the cinema to buy a ticket to a later show.
    He agreed.
    Now that we were both calm and in the car, I asked “what was going on with you that you didn’t want my help?”
    His response: “because I was working toward this and it was an accomplishment for me; if I took the money you offered, I wouldn’t have an accomplishment”

    WOW! I need to practice leaning back with my 12-year old son!
    OMG! what an important lesson!!

    I said: thank you for sharing that, I really appreciate you and I am glad you only had a little delay in your accomplishment, now we are both proud.

  2.  #2Lonely Luna Girl on June 30, 2010 at 1:34 pm


    Lon(v)ely Luna Girl here. I heard your comment about the toxicity being mine. I really get that. I have spent so much time and money trying to heal. I make about $2000/month, and just don’t feel that I have more resources to endlessly pour out into therapy, etc. I’m disillusioned, having purchased 2 of your programs, only to find that I’m not healthy enough to use them. I need something real that can guide me to that place of health. Is there anything that is really meaningful and free or close to free that you would recommend for me?

  3.  #3tinque on June 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Lovely Lina Girl – I feel so sad for the pain and torment you carry inside.
    I want to assure you that you are on a good path, the yoga, the massage, the dancing, and now you’re here. These things will only facilitate your changes and your journey.
    You CAN heal from toxic behavior. If you really want it, it can be yours. If you can imagine it, you can create it.
    Most of us who pass through here or stick around for awhile or longer have had great trauma and pain as well.
    This is not something you can unload overnight. Your triggers and responses are well programmed. It takes time and patience and great gentleness to yourself to heal this, change patterns that no long serve you, let go of the pain, rewire neural connections. It’s a process, a bit by bit, baby step by baby step process.
    Just keep working the tools, finding ways to soothe yourself, to feel good inside even if only for a few moments, for those moments can and will expand to an hour, several hours, days, weeks, and in this you will let go of your pain, you will heal, you will reprogram your destructive to you patterns.

    I posted this to you earlier Lovely Luna Girl and not sure if you saw it.
    There is SO much free material here, all the past posts as well as some enlightening comments which follow each and every one.
    Read the ones that seem applicable to you, and then read all the rest.
    Read all the free articles I have written on my site. Clicking on my name or picture will take you there.
    Really read all of this material. Take it in. Think about it all. Try all the tools and see what works best for you, and keep doing them.
    This is my suggestion.
    And again, you must be kind, gentle, and patient with yourself.

  4.  #4SuziQ on June 30, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    As water seeks the lowest level point, and penetrates at the most invisible points, so do we seek and discover companions that are emotionally at our level.

    This is a healing PROCESS! It does not happen over night, and it takes time. Beginning to understand our patterns is a huge beginning!

    (LOVELY) Luna Girl, I too have had to discover the path of healing through free and inexpensive resources as my income for so many years was below poverty, but as I have healed my heart, my income has increased. The last year I have been unemployed, uninsured and in school, but have just this week accepted a position that is not quite the pay level that I need, but i know it is a stepping stone of experience, and I will keep moving forwards. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not a train coming straight at you! The key is to get to the point where there is more light than tunnel!!

    Have peace, and LIVE WELL!

  5.  #5Rori Raye on June 30, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Welcome, Suzi!, and thank you so much for your personal story and the encouragement…Love, Rori

  6.  #6softy on June 30, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Hi lonely luna girl,

    I am just sharing here, I found out once I practice Isha system http://www.isha.com/new/contenido.php?seccion=isha_libros

    and I go back to rori’s program and its all become more amazing. I am not saying Rori’s tool wasn’t amazing to me but I couldn’t see and feel it 100% inside me (I was just unhealthy like you saying). Maybe its in heartoolkit connection, but I haven’t got it yet. After I practice this Isha system, Rori’s tool become more powerful and interesting to me and its like everything’s so clear to me.

    Combined two expert’s wisdom. It feels so powerful.

    Thanks Rori

    God Bless

  7.  #7Brenda on July 1, 2010 at 11:10 am

    This is a very insightful article! It really speaks to me deeply, and I read it slowly. I feel good that I am making progress to end the needy relationships in both directions. I see how badly my marriage was like that in both directions. Now I am just accepting treatment from my ex that is positive and uplifting. And not staying close to him simply because one or the other of us are needy.

    Siena, Kenny responded very positively to the feeling message letter you helped me tweak! He mailed it back yesterday with two letters, and he wrote in the margins, saying yes, he definitely wants a healthy relationship with deep understanding of each other! Thanks again for helping me with that!

  8.  #8Siena on July 1, 2010 at 11:26 am

    yay Bren! I had an experience yesterday with #1CD that could have gone south, but I used feeling messages and it brought us closer (and brought me understanding to what’s going on with him).

    They really and truly work. Yay!

  9.  #9Brenda on July 1, 2010 at 12:09 pm


    That’s fantastic!

    Kenny wrote in response to the feeling message letter you helped me rewrite…

    “Bren, i will listen, I promise, I always want that.” (He interrupts worse than anyone I know!)

    “Love us through it and communicate. Why, because we love each other.”

    He really liked the word “synchronicity” that you threw in there and asked me what it means. I printed out a long definition from the internet! “We” (Siena and Brenda) said:

    “It would feel so good to be treated with utter gentleness and sensitivity, to feel the synchronicity of a man tuning into my vibe. It would feel good to feel heard and feel safe to be close to a man.”

    He wrote: “I want that desperately too! Honey, I want to try to reword that nasty letter I wrote, why, cause I love you. You are blaming me and making me wrong. Please don’t shut me out, please. Love you!”

    Part of that he wrote in response to me shutting down and stopping contact after he wrote me a nasty letter (in response to another feeling message).

    I feel really good about how he’s trying, and I’m going to let him grow in baby steps, too. I see hope for this 10 year relationship! 🙂

  10.  #10Orna Walters on July 1, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Lovely Luna Girl,

    If you have two of Rori’s programs I assure you that there are in fact a zillion Golden Nuggets just for YOU – where you are at right now. If you were called to those programs they are right for you!

    Add in what Tinque shared so beautifully – its a process. There is no “magic pill.”

    The programs here (and most others) are meant to be experienced again and again. As you grow you will receive another level of golden nuggets.

    I feel sad reading that you’ve decided you are “not healthy enough to use them.” I promise you that without knowing any more about you and the specifics of your situation that if you do in fact believe that – it is true. It’s also possible for you to change that belief!

    Big Hug,

  11.  #11Lovely Luna on July 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm


    Thanks for your response. I posted my ‘story’ on another post about Rori’s Third Way. If you had read it you would know why I referred to myself in that way.

    There is definitely a toxicity in me that I allowed myself to unleash upon a man that I wanted to love. I wish to God that I could take back this past Sunday night, but I can’t.

    The irony of the situation is that last night I realized a huge piece of the puzzle that has been right in front of my face, but I have been somehow not seeing it. I immediately saw the beauty of Rori’s ‘Riff’ tecnhique, and had put it to use in the first few weeks of having her programs, which I should have done more, but more to the point, I needed to be practicing loving my feelings ALL DAY LONG. Today, I have been checking in with my feelings often, and telling myself ‘I love my sadness, I love my empty, aching feeling, I love myself for being wiling to love my empty aching feeling, etc.’ I have had to duck into the bathroom, or fall to my knees in a massage room (without a client present) to cry, but there’s a new softness cushioning the feelings, and a sense of greater presence in my body and my life.

    As a child, it was not ok to feel, let alone express feelings. I learned to be somewhat stoic. The other side of the coin was a huge amount of repression. I remember looking in my face in the mirror while I seethed with rage from an interaction with my father, knowing that if I even shouted out in my own room I might be in physical danger. All of that pressure let loose Sunday. My emotional maturity level is very low.

    I know it will take time to really integrate this process of feeling and expressing my emotions. As I think back on what I can remember of Sunday (I was the drunkest I think I’ve been in my life), I realize that my emotions are not integrated into my body and awareness. When I checked out because of all the alcohol, there was no ground for the emotional current running through me- my system doesn’t yet know how to process it. Also, because I wasn’t ‘present’ in the moment, and because my inhibitions were down, I was experiencing the full blast of emotions, which I am not accustomed to allowing myself to feel in my daily life. There was an overabundance of emotion, an ill equipped system, and no one at the helm. I self-destructed and brought someone else into it.

    My biggest regret is that I had to involve Mark in my breakdown. Just as my father’s temper tantrums and violent outbursts needed a scapegoat, I guess mine did too. I had just hoped that he would be someone I could practice Rori’s tools with. I wanted him to be a mirror of my own personal growth in my relationship to myself. I guess in a way, that is just what he was, but in one of my ugliest moments, and not in my opening into beauty and self-love as I had hoped.

    In a way this has really helped me to bring the focus back onto myself. Perhaps Spirit knew it was the only way. I am working with loving my feelings of regret, guilt and anguish over FOREVER losing the opportunity to relate to Mark. I believe that if I stay away from alcohol and REALLY work with my emotions/feelings I could still learn and grow a lot with him in my life, and I believe that I could keep from being destructive to either one of us. But now he would be absolutely mad to invite me back into his life. My feelings around this are the most difficult for me to process.

    I love my sadness, I love my aching, I love my longing, I love myself for being willing to love my icky feelings.

    Lovely Luna

  12.  #12Jilly on July 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Siena…if you don’t mind sharing I would like to hear what your experience was that brought you closer….I love hearing what’s working!

  13.  #13Siena on July 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Jilly, sure!

    We had a date where he was really distant, and no matter what Siren tools I used, I couldn’t connect with him.

    He texted me an apology later, telling me he was sorry for being distant, and I responded with something like, “ya I noticed. Usually I feel so good with you, but today I felt disconnected.”

    And that opened up a long conversation between us that uncovered what he was distant about (nothing to do with us), and got us talking about communication and relationship and all that stuff that I love to talk about… but he brought it up!

    I felt hurt when he first texted me, and in the past my response would have been to shut down, afraid that he would hurt me more. But by using that short feeling message, he was able to open up to me and we finally connected (later on the phone).

    So all’s well that ends well!

  14.  #14Sweetpea on July 1, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Yay Siena!

    I want to share something with all you Sirens. I used a feeling message on my sister the other day & instead of causing a yelling match like usually happens when I share my feelings (I didn’t use “you” this time) we are finally talking after a couple weeks with lots of tension. So the tools work – even in non-romantic situations.

  15.  #15gina on July 2, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Last night I experienced off the charts intimacy.

    D said he wonders if I’m as “for real” about him as he is about me. He asked me to be his girlfriend. I’ve given him a “no girlfriend speech” in the past – I told him that I want to stay available for forever after. I asked him what being his “girlfriend” would mean to him. He said that he hopes things just get better and better and that he wants this to be “it.” We talked about how we want to spend each day making each other happy. I told him how good I feel with him and how much I like him. He said his only hesitation is that it’s all still new. He said something about how, if I still know him in 5 years, we’ll think back on this conversation and all the things we said we wanted for and from each other. I felt really sad about the “if I still know him” comment, and I started crying. I told him that I suddenly felt really sad and asked him what he thinks. He wiped away my tears and when I asked him what it was that he wanted to know about 5 years from now, and he said that we’ll just worry about that then. And I felt reassured. It felt scary to be so vulnerable, but I felt him there supporting me. I said some things from my heart that I didn’t expect, or even know were there – I said that I want to support him in order to enable him to be who he’s meant to be. He’s always known that he wants to be a chef, he’s very talented at it, and he has a great job as a sous chef of a very nice restaurant, where he is working his way up the corporate ladder. Eventually he wants to own his own restaurant. I hear what you ladies are saying about independence, but I am very independent. I would probably continue to have my own stream of income, but I want a man to be the primary provider, and I would love to be able to support a winner of a man (emotionally, etc) in a way to enable him to be the best man/provider possible. D loves nice things, he keeps his apartment very clean and he has a high standard of excellence. I believe in his ability to produce, and I believe in my ability to help, and I believe that, together, we could have an amazing life. And if he stops stepping up in the fabulous ways that he has been, then I’ll be just fine, and look elsewhere to invest my energy. But right now, this feels effing great. We’re planning a trip to Mexico!

  16.  #16Siena on July 2, 2010 at 10:26 am

    yay Gina! yayayayay!

  17.  #17gina on July 2, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Thanks!! Woohoohoo!

  18.  #18Rori Raye on July 3, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Lovely Luna – so nice to hear your voice, and I know you’re getting lots of help here…Love, Rori

  19.  #19Orna Walters on July 3, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Lovely Luna,

    I feel so happy reading that you are using the tools.

    You may not know my ‘story’ – remove the alcohol and several years ago I could be writing exactly what you have written here.

    I used to refer to myself with men as a “black hole” and/or “The Fisherman’s Wife” who could never be satisfied (from the fable). Its odd for me to think about who I was being back then because today I am with my soul mate in a true soul partnership and have the relationship of my dreams.

    I share this to say to you that if I was able to do it YOU CAN TOO! I know you can!

    In my humble opinion I suggest mourning the relationship with Mark – be extremely kind and forgiving with yourself – and surrender to the understanding that he came into your life to bring you a gift – not to be “the one.”

    Make the decision that you will grow into having the relationship of your dreams. When you decide that NO MATTER WHAT – opportunity after opportunity for you will show up – however, most people miss it because the opportunities often show up in the guise of misfortune. Seize the opportunity, adapt, change and grow – then repeat as often as necessary to have that which you truly desire.

    Big Hug,

  20.  #20kathleen on July 7, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    to whom it may concern,

    i am a married lady
    i have been married for about 24years
    i have a few children aged from 1 – 23years and they all live at home
    i have a loving and supporting husband who i love as a friend, father to my babies

    my problem is i have for the best part of my marriage about 10years i have been emailing talking on the phone msn a man who is alot younger then me about 10 years and i have found my soul mate in him

    about 2 years ago i told him the truth of who i am, that the photos i had been sending him was my daughter which this part is true from that day he has blocked me from his msn and any further contact

    my life has been in limbo since his departing from all communications with him

    i lied to him to safe guard my personal life and i didnt want him to know about my situation about my children about anything with my life with my husband

    i have been living a fantasy life through email, phone, msn, etc with him

    i am so heartbreaking and i have been for the time that he has blocked me out of his life

    i know he has another girlfriend in his life and he seems happy i think

    im at a real loss

    i stay in my married life for the sake of my children but in my heart i am not happy

    will your step by step relationship course work for me i dont want to stay in my marriage i would love to pursue this other man but i dont believe he wants to at all how can i tell

    please help me im at a crossroad intersection in my life


  21.  #21Rori Raye on July 9, 2010 at 8:55 am

    kathleen, I’m so sorry for your pain, and you’re not going to like this: Please seek professional help right now – a good therapist who’s been personally recommended to you. You are living a life of lies and fantasy and imagination – and this is damaging you deeply (and not very kind to the men involved, either). I would not now tell your husband the truth – he may leave you abruptly. Please do not chase this other man – your lies have made anything there impossible for now (he’ll get in touch if he’s curious), and email and phone means nothing even with the truth. If what you want from me is to get this guy, I can’t help you. If what you want is to confront your fear of intimacy – I’d encourage you to use my book and programs and these blog posts on Speaking from the Heart to RECONNECT with your HUSBAND. He sounds like a good man, and it’s only YOU who’re blocking your feelings for him. Love, Rori

  22.  #22korey on November 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    My belief is that our relationshiops are a mirror of ourselves. The reason why a person may choose a person who is needy or full of baggage is because they are needy themselves. JMHO


  23.  #23Taylor on February 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I found your article and thought that it would be explanatory. However it, unfortunately wasnt.

    I myself like the Angelo in your story keep landing needy girlfriends too. One girl who needs nonstop physical contact. Another girl who needs me to stay at home with her because she has self-esteem or confidence issues. Yet another who “needs” me to help her fight her hidden gambling addiction; then when he relationship gets going, I find out about the addiction because she’s off gambling for 15-25 hours at a pop. Another who needs the physical contact, and needs me because she can’t make friends.

    The catch is, I do “pay myself”. I like to putter and do my things, I’m involved in sports. While the issues you describe of Angelo in the story may have explained me two or three relationships ago, I have learned about myself after having a girlfriend with BPD (such a self-learning experience).

    Now I dont put up with someone who is crossing my boundaries. I dont make excuses for someone else’s poor behavior. If I want to do something and the girl wants me to do something else, I will re-evaluate that want I want to do is reasonable I will just do it anyways and politely decline to drop what I’m doing and do what they want.

    I encouraged the gambling addict girl to do and get help, they prescribed her SSRIs. The treatment only worsened the gambling addiction, and eventually I put a foot down and broke up with her. The BPD girl who treated me awfully, I tried to help her find treatment, then kicked her out of my house.

    My current girlfriend is always depressed, complaining about aches and pains. I try to get her to take her own daughter out and do fun things with her, the kid is only young once. I get out on my own and do my own things. I walk the careful tightrope of being supportive of her conditions yet living my life and not getting sucked into her headspace.

    Where I think that your article breaks down is with masks. Everyone, especially people who have depression/anxiety/self-esteem issues or whatever, will put on this mask that they are this great “normal” person and that is the person that we meet, fall in love with, and get into a relationship with.

    It is later, when the mask wears off, that we start to see the annoying and destructive behavior. Being compassionate humans, and also men of resolve, we are loathe to just abandon someone because they have some issues, and try to stay loyal and become supportive.

    The real deal is that people wear these masks to hide who they really are. I do not wear a mask; especially when meeting a new romantic interest now, in fact, I try to show some of my worst behaviors to them right out of the gate; if they cant deal with it then, then they wont be able to deal with me later. Yet these “needy” women that I end up meeting are wearing well rehearsed masks that are difficult to see through. They wear these masks at work, for their family, to show everyone the “normal” life that they lead.

    How is a regular joe like me supposed to be able to decrypt and see through a mask that is rehearsed and practiced almost every day of their lives?

    Not to be chauvenistic, but I think that ALL young women these days are suffering from a variety of mental issues, ranging from depression to self esteem issues to anxiety. The feminist movement wiped out gender roles and confused the bejeezus out of today’s young women.

    To have babies is a waste of your life but to be a mother is rewarding. To clean house is demeaning, but to live in a dirty house is filthy. They must have all the latest fashions and clothes and shiny new things, yet they also should be financially responsible and they can’t afford it. They should be hot and sexy yet they should not dress like a whore. Their sex should be like a porno movie but they should not be too taboo.

    If that was the kind of direction I was getting from my role models, I’d be stupidly confused too.

    Bring on more strong female role models and let them eschew a positive post-feminist gender role for women so they know what the hell they’re supposed to be! Please? Us men are dying for it so we can have happy and secure women in our lives! We suffer so badly watching the ones we love be so confused about who they are and who they’re supposed to be!