It sounds silly and utterly cliche to say that falling in love has taught me to love myself more, but it has. WhileI want to be a good person, a person worthy of dating them, they look at me as though I already am. Self-acceptance is something I have always struggled with, but I’m slowly beginning to rethink the ways I see myself. I’m learning a lot from my first relationship – including that being needy isn’t a bad thing.
Content note for mental illness and self-hatred. Quick note that my enboifriend is the non-binary queerdo I’m dating – their pronouns are they/them.
Why is there so much shame attached to the idea of being needy? We all have needs, and recently I’ve been trying not to call myself needy as though it makes me a bad person. Or rather, my enboifriend has reassured me that I’m don’t have to apologise for being needy – having needs is normal, as is sharing them with the person you love.
But it still feels vulnerable to not only let someone see all the parts of yourself that you want to hide, but to believe them when they tell you that you don’t need to apologise for it.
I send them a dozen messages when I’m struggling with my mental illness and I’m trapped in an anxiety spiral. I do my best to check for consent before I dumping my emotions on to them, but even when I have that consent I feel guilty for doing it. My depression sits heavily inside me, but I don’t want to burden them with it. I apologise for having to ask them for help, taking up their time and their emotional energy when I could deal with it on my own.
I ask them to dissect our sex extensively post-fuck, because I’m a sex blogger who is scared that they might be screwing up sex. It’s only through talking about it – and talking a lot – that I can believe that I’m not awful at fucking, Or relationships in general, because this is my first one and I’m constantly worried that I’m going to mess up and hurt them. I apologise for needing reassurance that I’m not doing this wrong, because surely I am?
I ask them if I can call when I’m struggling, when typing out words are so much effort and all I want to do is curl up and cry. Even though their voice makes me happy, makes me feel safe, I can’t help sharing negative thought after negative thought, desperate to get them out of my head even though I’m aware that they’re trying to help me: they’re not the misogynistic system that I’m so sick of fighting. As soon as we say goodbye I panic that I spent a whole phone call talking about myself, and message them to apologise, feeling sick with guilt.
I send them even more messages – all in caps and punctuated with exclamation marks – when I’m excited. When I’m happy, there’s no one I’d rather share those emotions with – often in a stream of incoherent, out of context messages that feel ridiculous when I look back on them. I feel silly and apologise, because are these little things really a big deal to anyone but me?
All of these things make me feel needy. All of this – and more – makes me worry that I’m too much. I love fast and hard and I care so deeply it hurts, and I’m still scared that one day they’ll realise what an awful person I actually am. But somehow, being with them has started to convince me that I’m not an awful person, I’m just a person. A person who feels things and who fucks up, and that’s ok.
It’s not easy, though, being needy.
The shame of being needy eats me up and lies curling in my stomach. It’s a feeling that I’ll never be good enough, that I don’t deserve the love and support they give me as though it’s so easy. I’m also worried that every time I ask for their help, every time they meet my needs, that I don’t do the same for them. I worry that I’m not only needy but selfish, and that I don’t do as much for them as they do for me.
It’s also not easy to believe them when they tell me that I do.
Of course, while it’s ok to be needy and share my needs with my parter, they don’t always have to meet those needs. We’re polyamorous and long distance: we both have other people in our lives and lives – busy, social lives – in completely different cities. I’m allowed to tell them that I’d like virtual cuddles, but if they’re busy I might have to wait. On a day when they’re fucking their girlfriend or on a date, it’s not reasonable to expect instant replies to my texts.
But they never make me feel bad for feeling needy, or like I’m asking them for too much. In fact, being called needy has almost become a term of endearment between me and my partner. When they call me needy it makes me smile, because I know they’re teasing. We laugh and we kiss, and when my enboifriend tells me that I don’t need to apologise for being needy, I believe them. When they reassures me that it’s ok with an I love you, I can breath again.
I’m unlearning the self-critical thoughts that make me hate myself, and I’m learning self-forgiveness. It sounds like a ridiculous cliche to say that I’m learning to love myself by falling in love with someone else, but I’m cunt-over-tits in love with them and I hate myself a lot less than I did five months ago. Even when I’m needy.
Hi, I’m Quinn Rhodes. Sometimes I am needy and that’s ok.
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Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex writer with vaginismus. He’s a slut and a sex nerd who writes about his adventures in trying to fuck without fucking up. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots while falling in love every time he fucks.