The Wall Street Journal (15 July 2013) asks why some people seem to demand so much?
It explains that there are three types of people:
1) Secure--these people were raised in a consistently caring and responsive manner and they become warm and loving people themselves able to form healthy balanced relationships--where they can be apart from and together with others and function well in both situations.
2) Avoidant/Dismissive--those who are raised in an environment where neediness was not tolerated and was seen as suffocating, and so they learn to minimize closeness to others--they are distant and detached.
3) Anxious/Needy--People raised in an inconsistent environment, where they got mixed messages about nurturing, and they end up constantly feeling insecure and needy, like they will get drawn in and then rejected again, so they smother other people with their neediness and don't recognize and respect appropriate boundaries.
This third personality type, who is always needy and ends up pushing away other people, who feel suffocated, reminds me of a funny scene in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" where a couple visit the therapist, who asks each of them how often they have sex? The man says, "Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week." But then the woman when asked the same question says, "Constantly. I'd say three times a week."
Just like people can't really change their basic sexual needs (men apparently wanting physical intimacy more often then women), so too people can't change the home life they were raised in--good, bad or indifferent.
Whether people are needy and clingy, aloof and dismissive, or plays between hot and cold, we need to figure out how to care about and love them for whoever they are.
Boundaries are key. Taking some personal space is healthy. Together time and intimacy is critical.
It's all about finding a balance--where each person has the time and space to be who they are, and then come back to a warm and caring relationship to share, rejuvenate, and laugh and cry together. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)