A thing to know about me is that I used to be, and in some ways still am, a needy person. I remember in high school, dating my on-again/off-again boyfriend well into college, and no amount of time with him was enough. He would literally have to pry me off of him when we would give good-bye hugs, especially when I was in high school—less so in college, but I was still like that to some degree at the time. I feel like I can somewhat blame that on us having a long-distance relationship for years when he was in the Army, and I would see him for a couple of days a year. But I am still, at times, embarrassed by how I used to act because I recall saying to people when he was gone that it was like I was missing a limb. And when he broke up with me just before coming home on terminal leave, I vowed to not be that person anymore. I did not want to be the person sitting around by the phone waiting for a phone call that may or may not come. I did not want to pine. I did not want to shape my life around another person’s existence, all the while not focusing on my own. I want to clarify that my on/off boyfriend did not expect this of me. It was something that I expected of myself. It was something that I had, for whatever reason, assumed was how the Perfect Girlfriend was supposed to be. I can blame romantic comedies, but I made my own choices. And after seeing the life I had imagined for myself crumble because of someone else choosing to no longer be a part of it, I told myself that I had to focus on finding what makes me happy, independent of someone else. Which is not to say that I could not be happy with another person. Just that I did not want to be dependent upon that person in the process. My therapist at the time called it The Happy Singlehood. I am not sure if she coined this phrase or read it somewhere, but it is a notion that I have made strong efforts to follow for the past 17 years. But I still find myself with bouts of “neediness.” I recognize that it is perfectly acceptable and expected to miss a partner when they are away, or when they are otherwise not available. But for me, it is not a stretch for me to go from an acceptable level of missing a partner to feeling as though I need that person around. I am not proud of that feeling. It is a thing that I have to work through though, and I recognize that, both in feeling that intensely and in accepting that is a thing that I do sometimes. So what do I do? Well, I reach out sometimes, but I also recognize that people have lives. Which is all well and good because I also have a life. I also handle these feelings by having a little chat with my cognitive side:
(Image credit to Science Daily)
Inner Me: "I need this person around." Brain: "This person can’t be around right now." Inner Me: "I know. But—" Brain: "Are you feeling neglected?" Inner Me: "No." Brain: "Then you need a distraction. Find a thing to do. Read a book or something." Inner Me: "Good call. You're so smart." Brain: "I know. You know you just complimented yourself, right?" Inner Me: "Shh." So I do things. It is important to feel comfortable around yourself, or—at the very least, tolerant of yourself. Make plans with other people, even if it is a Zoom call. Mindfully drink a cup of coffee or tea. Binge-watch one of your favorite shows. Do laundry. Work on a creative project. Enjoy your time with you.