What To Do If You’re In A Relationship With An Emotionally Needy Person

Updated April 9, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

While in a relationship, each partner can have a variety of different needs and expectations. It’s natural to want attention, care, and support from one’s partner, but sometimes these emotional demands can become overwhelming. If you’re in a relationship with someone who is emotionally needy, you may not know how to handle it and might worry about hurting your significant other. Leaving this issue unaddressed can lead to the downfall of the relationship, making it important to know what to do when you find yourself in this situation. 

Getty/Halfpoint Images
Being attached to an emotionally needy person can be hard

Signs of emotional neediness

One of the first steps to dealing with emotional neediness in your partner is understanding what it looks like. While your significant other might be needy most of the time, it’s unlikely that that’s always the case with everything they say and do. So, it can be important to sort out the needy behavior from the healthy. Here are some signs of emotionally needy behavior:

  • They never go out with friends or have friends over.

  • They beg or bargain to spend more time with you.

  • They use emotional blackmail to get you to spend more time with them, manipulating you by making you feel guilty or upset.

  • They take over your social media, constantly posting on your wall, going way back in history to like old photos, or demanding attention in comments.

  • They constantly argue with you so that they can get your attention and try to influence what you think about them.

  • They try to buy your attention with overly-expensive gifts.

  • They’re clingy, never wanting you to go out on your own or do anything that doesn’t involve them.

Remember that everyone has needs. In a close, healthy relationship, both people usually meet some or most of each other’s needs. The problem can come when your partner expects you to meet all their needs – both needs they should meet for themselves and needs they could address with other people outside the relationship. They might not only demand that you meet these needs, but also use emotional tricks to make you meet them.

Article Visual

How to respond when someone is needy

Once you recognize that your partner is emotionally needy, you can start thinking about how to respond to it. You can start with the following suggestions:

Get curious about what’s causing their needy behavior

Sometimes, it can help to set aside your feelings about their needy behavior and talk about what might be causing it. Ask them how they’re doing and if there’s anything stressful going on in their life right now. A short, direct conversation about the situations they’re facing gives them a chance to clue you in about the source of their problem.

Encourage them

If you care about your partner and want to stay in the relationship, it probably makes sense to support them in becoming a more independent person. Instead of pushing them away, suggest ways they can meet their own needs. Try to do it positively and in an encouraging, nonjudgmental way. You can’t control their reaction, but you can choose to be open about how you feel and support them along the way.

State your boundaries clearly

Even if you care deeply about someone, it can still be important to have boundaries and state them clearly. It may be easier for your partner to cross the line into emotional neediness if they don’t know where the line is for you. Instead of making a general statement, like “Stop expecting me to do everything for you!” try to be more specific. Tell them exactly what you’re willing to do and what you aren’t. This can give them the opportunity to do their part to improve the relationship in a way that’s comfortable and acceptable for each of you. 

Being attached to an emotionally needy person can be hard

Take time for yourself

For your mental health, it can be vital to give yourself some space to experience life outside of the relationship. Take some time to do things that don’t include your partner. This could mean spending time with friends or participating in a hobby you enjoy. Staying present in the moment can be refreshing and decrease your stress levels. When you come back to be with your partner, you may feel more equipped to confront or cope with their neediness.

Avoid being overwhelmed by guilty feelings

Emotionally needy individuals can make you feel guilty when you don’t meet their expectations and demands. They might place a great deal of pressure on you to meet all of their needs and make you feel like it’s your fault when they aren’t happy. When this occurs, try to remind yourself that you’re just one person and only human. You can’t solve every problem they have, and it can be important to remain happy with yourself even when they aren’t happy with you. Odds are that you’re doing the best you can with what you have.

Get help from a couple’s counselor

Getting along with someone who is emotionally needy can be challenging for anyone. While the above suggestions might help, a couples counselor could offer even more assistance. They can help the two of you learn to communicate in healthier ways and work individually with each of you to heal from personal problems. 

Through the therapeutic process, the therapist may be able to help your partner understand the distress they’re causing you. They can teach them and encourage them to meet some of their needs in other ways besides always pushing you to meet them. Going to counseling together could help you develop a much healthier relationship.

If your partner isn’t willing to go with you or can’t, consider going to a therapist on your own. They can give you tools and teach you techniques to respond in healthier ways. Working to change the dynamics of an unhealthy relationship can make it more fulfilling for both of you.

Online counseling with Regain

Being in a relationship with someone who is emotionally needy can take a toll on your mental health. Discussing your concerns, worries, and struggles with a therapist could help you handle the situation in a healthy way. Regain is an online counseling platform that can connect you with a therapist from the comfort of your home. Since online therapy allows you to schedule your sessions according to your availability, you can choose a time that doesn’t interfere with you and your partner’s time together. This can make it easier to get the mental health support that you’re in need.

The efficacy of online counseling 

Individuals who are emotionally needy may experience anxiety and depression because of their dependence on their partner. In some cases, they may benefit from internet-based counseling by learning how to become more safe. Doctors from the University of Pittsburgh found that online cognitive behavioral therapy can successfully manage and treat symptoms of anxiety and depression. Improvements in these areas may reduce relational distress and improve relationship satisfaction.

Counselor reviews

“Sessions with Natalie are very insightful and give practical advice on implementing new habits and changes. Be prepared to engage and be challenged to think in a different way. I know that my partner and I can already see improvements in our relationship and feel more positive about working through our issues together.”

“Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time... She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling at the beginning, but I truly believe that it is making a difference for our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”


Emotional neediness can manifest in a variety of ways within a relationship. In some cases, someone who is emotionally needy may be struggling with an anxious attachment style or dependent personality disorder. When there is an imbalance of neediness in a relationship, it can cause stress, discomfort, and even lead to the end of the partnership. However, it is possible to work through these issues and develop a healthier relationship. Online couples counseling can equip both partners with the tools and support they need to communicate well, set boundaries, and build a strong foundation on which to stand. 

For Additional Help & Support With Your ConcernsThis website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.