After your spouse’s affair was revealed, you may have found yourself full of self-doubts as well as asking the age-old question of ‘why men cheat’. In fact, your spouse may have expressed that he or she thinks you’re being “too needy.”
If so, it probably made you feel even sicker inside than you already do, and planted a seed of self-doubt: Am I too needy? And if so, where has my power gone?
In this blog, we’ll explore what being ‘needy’ is and what it stems from. Read on to see if you’re currently suffering from neediness syndrome…
Basic Human Need… or Neediness?
No one really wants to be needy. Most people are pretty independent-minded, and the last thing they want is to be perceived as being dependent on another for emotional security. Yet, as a member of the human species each of us is – to some extent – reliant on other humans. We are social creatures and don’t do very well when isolated.
This is supported by research, such as that evidenced by newborns who are orphaned and don’t receive enough human touch – the newborn struggles to thrive. In order to thrive, each of us needs to have our human need of interaction and a deep level of intimacy with another met.
So, what makes being “needy” different than just doing what comes natural to us as a human being and wanting to be close to other human beings? And would this be why men cheat? Sorry, there’s no excuse for cheating, no matter what the circumstances. But let’s get back to the idea of “need.”
There are many reasons people can take human need over the edge into what’s considered “too needy.” We’re only going to concern ourselves with neediness in the context of a marriage in crisis.
In the case of a marriage that has been shaken severely by an affair, the victim of the affair is in a state of emotional distress. If you’re the victim, you know the devastation that has been wrought on your emotions. The affair has clouded over every aspect of your life, and you’re plagued with negative thoughts, feelings and mental images.
And there’s one thing that takes a major hit after an affair, and it’s what may be leading to your being perceived as “needy.”
The Mortal Blow that Can Lead to Neediness
It’s bad enough to be left reeling with the knowledge that your soul mate, best friend and lover has actually stepped outside of your marriage to be with someone else. It can feel like a mortal blow, one you’ll never be able to recover from.
One of the greatest mortal blows has been struck to your self-esteem. When your self-esteem takes a major punch like that caused by a spouse’s affair, i.e. you feel unattractive, unworthy of love, uninteresting, unintelligent, etc., it’s only natural that you desire to fill this perceived “void” in your personal offerings.
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And it’s only natural that you are seeking the approval of the very person who you perceived to have spurned you: your cheating spouse. You think, if only he or she would recognize what a great prize I am, and validate me in some way, maybe I wouldn’t feel as lousy as I do.
But even if your spouse offers you assurances – it may be difficult for you to believe in those assurances. And after a while, your spouse gets weary of trying to reassure you, and they begin to push you away – because they can’t take back what they’ve done in order to help fix you.
Think about it: your looking for approval is a constant reminder of what they’ve done to you, the harm they’ve caused your relationship and the pain and suffering you’re living with. It’s easier to say “You’re too needy,” then to try to fix something that really isn’t in their power to fix. Sure, they can help things along by supporting you as you work to recover from the affair and all of the emotional turmoil stemming from it.
But ultimately, this deep need your feeling for validation must be filled by you. Troubling yourself with asking why men cheat only takes you off-track. Here’s how to regain your self-esteem, without any outside influence or help:
Step 1: Take Responsibility
Accept that you have a human need to be loved, but that your personal happiness cannot come from outside of you. Ultimately, you are responsible for your life, no one else is. It’s up to you to take the necessary actions to make your life what you want it to be.
You are feeling insecure and unsure of yourself. You’ve been dealt a nasty hand. Take from it what lessons you can. Then, remind yourself as frequently as you need to: “I am responsible for my own happiness, and I will create happiness for myself.”
Step 2: Accept Reality
You didn’t ask for your spouse to cheat on you and cause you this pain and misery. Sure, if there were a way to travel back in time and undo the damage, all of us would go back to right wrongs and do things differently. But, this is what you’re dealing with today, so accept where you are: you feel awful, your self-esteem has been shredded, and you’re not sure what’s going to happen to your marriage.
Once you have a handle on exactly what you perceive your present reality to be, you are better equipped to meet your challenges head on. This in itself can help you rebuild your self-esteem, as you put a name to what your reality is and then face it.
Step 3: Satisfy Yourself
One of the most frequent feelings the victim of an affair has is, “I gave everything to this marriage, and what did it get me?”
Often, people put 100% of themselves into their marriage, into “coupledom.” Unfortunately, what gets lost in the process is your individualism and identity. Ask yourself: “Has there been balance in my efforts, meaning I’ve put effort into myself as an individual?”
If you realize there has been an imbalance, this may be another reason your self-esteem has been so shaken: you lost sight of yourself long ago, except in the context of who you are in the marriage. Your spouse may perceive you as being “too needy” because you are reacting to a loss of your identity: the one you created as “the spouse of…” – you’re trying to hang on to what you feel makes you you.
Step back and take a look at ways you can invest time and effort into yourself as an individual. What hobbies did you let slide? What are your dreams, your passions?
The road back to self-esteem does not mean you need to be selfish, but you do need to take time to build up your self, to feel empowered once again. The more empowered you feel, the less needy your spouse will perceive you to be. A stronger you makes for a stronger possibility of salvaging your marriage and rebuilding your relationship with your spouse.
Just make sure to hold something back for yourself this time.
My greatest hope is that you once again reclaim your sense of self, and esteem that self highly.
How has your spouse’s affair affected your sense of self-worth?
Has your spouse accused you of being too needy? Or, do you feel inside that you may be too dependent on your spouse for your own happiness?
What have you done to regain your self-esteem?
Please share your ideas and personal experiences with other members of the community.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,