Saturday, May 7, 2011

"Emotionally Needy" vs., um... Being Human?

"Emotionally needy"?
     Today I read the fabulous SARK's eLetter, which was about being "emotionally needy." (Don't know about SARK? Get thee to your closest independent bookstore and check out her amazing titles. My favorites are Wild Succulent Woman and Eat Mangoes Naked, but they are all worth reading.)  

     She describes a recent article that says her work appeals to "emotionally needy adults."  SARK was not thrilled by this phrase, since it seems to demean her readers:
"Are adults who have needs, needy? It implies that people who exhibit emotions are flawed.
As someone who, like SARK, has often been told that she's "too emotional, too sensitive," I feel uncomfortable with the term, too.  It's horrible to feel that your need for human contact might repel those around you; that your desire for emotional connection with people might actually drive them away... it's shameful and terrifying.  Even worse is the implication that one would need to classify the "emotionally needy" as a group, implying that there is also a group of people who are not in need of emotionally interactions and, of course, that those people must somehow be superior. But maybe that's my overactive sensitivity talking...

     After some musing, SARK makes her decision: 
I don't believe that adults with emotional needs are needy, and I believe that too many adults don't understand how they feel or how to tend to their feelings ... So I stand in opposition to the description; emotionally needy. I offer instead; emotionally aware, sensitive, human beans who can be openly vulnerable.  
I totally concur, especially the part about being openly vulnerable.  For those of us who are, as my mom puts it, "super-sensitive," it's especially hard to put yourself in situations where you feel open to hurt, but it's those very situations in which you are also open to joy, love, and growth.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself when I'm opening the door to yet another new experience that has me shaking in my orthopedic flip-flops.  As for being emotionally aware, that's something I have to work on every day.  Who knew that feeling your own emotions took so much work?

     How do you feel about the term "emotionally needy?"  Do you think that it's derogatory?  Do you think it's needy to have emotional needs? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Great blog entry. I think that emotionally needy can have both good and bad connotations. It is good to be "emotionally needy" if you use it to get what you need to be a self-sustaining, productive individual. However, if you are solely looking at people to validate who you are then "emotionally needy" can be viewed in a negative light. Is all about the balance of the term. We all have emotional needs. What is important is why we have them and how we use them.

  2. Thanks, Alli! I think that's a really valid point. If you need people's validation to experience positive emotions, then you have a problem. I love your wise words and miss you, too! :)