If you’re independent and self-sufficient, neediness in a relationship can be a total deal-breaker. Especially if you’re used to being on your own or being in a very low-maintenance relationship, being with someone who’s needy can feel extremely suffocating and overwhelming. But there could be a whole bunch of reasons why someone becomes needy, and they don’t all necessarily mean that the relationship is worth ending. Check out these top tips on how to deal with a needy guy.

Set clear boundaries from the start.

Just because the person you’re dating or in a relationship with is needy, doesn’t mean you have to negotiate all your boundaries. Make it clear what’s okay and what isn’t and hold him to that standard from the start. For example, if your schedule means you have to work every Saturday morning, let him know from the beginning that you’re not available to hang out with or call during that time because your career is important to you. Needy guys (and girls!) can also be demanding when it comes to texting, so let him know that if you don’t respond to a text straight away when you’re working, it is indeed because you’re working.

Acknowledge his actions.

Needy men themselves agree that wanting to simply be acknowledged and reassured can lead to neediness. According to Body and Soul, one of the most important things you can do when your partner is needy is acknowledge him. Notice the little things and the big things. Don’t make him feel like he has to jump through hoops to get your attention or that he has to go above and beyond to impress you. Recognize his actions and let him know how they make you feel.

Let him know that you appreciate him.

Sometimes, neediness can come from the desire to be valued. And if you can make him feel appreciated and desired, you can satiate his need to constantly be in your face. Praise him and let him know that you appreciate everything he does for you. Remind him that you don’t need to be together all of the time for you to appreciate his presence in your life, so he doesn’t need to worry about always hounding you.

Don’t be at his beck and call.

Neediness comes in many different forms. In some situations, a guy can be needy in the sense that he’s not very independent and needs someone to do basic life tasks for him or with him. If he’s never lived out of home and has been spoiled by his parents, he might rely on you to do all the cooking when you’re together. He might need you to iron his shirts. Every relationship is different, but you don’t have to put up with that. You are not there to be at his beck and call.

Don’t neglect your own needs.

Similarly, remember your own needs while dealing with those of a needy guy. Just because he is the needier person in the relationship doesn’t mean that your own needs aren’t important. It’s easy to forget about yourself when you’re with someone who’s demanding, so take extra care to think about yourself too. Ask yourself what you want and need and how your relationship is affecting you.

Settle any doubts he has.

When left unchecked, trust issues can also turn into needy behavior. You might find that your partner is constantly checking up on you and asking to see you because he doesn’t trust you. That’s no state for a healthy relationship to be in so settle any doubts he has. Make it clear that he can trust you, and then show him that that’s the case through your everyday behavior. Remember that actions always speak louder than words!

Encourage him to nurture his other relationships.

Although your relationship with your SO might be the most important relationship in both of your lives, it’s still not okay to abandon all your other relationships. The less connected someone is to their friends and family, the more they have to rely on their romantic partner to fulfill every single need. So encourage him to nurture his other relationships. Or if he doesn’t have a good relationship with his family or many friends, encourage him to get out there and make some new connections.

Be gentle in your communication.

Neediness and sensitivity seem to go hand in hand. There’s a chance that your needy guy is also a sensitive guy, so take that into consideration when you’re communicating with him. Have empathy and think of his feelings when telling him that you need a little space or you need him to back off a bit. You can be firm and assertive while also being respectful and gentle in your delivery. Don’t back down when setting your boundaries, but also don’t rip him to shreds in the process.

Make sure your heart is in it.

It’s possible that a needy guy is acting out because he can tell that your heart isn’t really in the relationship after all. He might be trying to keep you from slipping away from him. It pays to take a step back and re-evaluate to make sure that you do still want to be in this relationship. It’s not fair to him or to yourself to stick around and keep things going if you’re not happy.

Separate needy from possessive.

Always know the difference between a guy who’s needy and a guy who’s possessive. Although they can look very similar, needy describes a guy who is clingy and always trying to be around you. Possessive is when he forces himself and his presence onto you, either physically or by trying to control your actions and movements. Being possessive stems from a lack of trust and is a toxic behavior that can destroy your relationship or lead to abuse. Remember, you never have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with. It’s a huge red flag when a SO tries to control any aspect of your life or acts as if they own you.

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