There have been a number of discussions on the forums in recent weeks on the subject of neediness. In my book, I formulate a theory that defines non-neediness as the source of all attractive behavior in men. Unfortunately, I think some readers (judging by the threads on the board) are making one of two mistakes: 1) misunderstanding what non-neediness is and how to attain it and 2) trying to use it as yet another measuring stick for success (i.e., treating it as yet another “magic pill” for their problems — I will get into the ironies of this in a minute).
In Models, I define neediness within romantic and social relationships as prioritizing another person’s perception of you over your perception of yourself, and that this prioritization leads to all unattractive behavior in men, whether directly or indirectly. So, when talking to an attractive woman, a needy man will expend his effort trying to piece together what her perception of him is and cater his behavior to what he thinks she wants, whereas a non-needy man will focus on what his perception of her is. If she thinks poorly of him, it will only affect him as much as he perceives her opinion as being valuable.
There are two ways in which men can become needy: by undervaluing themselves or by overvaluing the person with whom they’re interacting.
The former problem stems from run-of-the-mill low self-esteem and is experienced as low confidence in social situations, consciously realized by a series of negative beliefs about oneself, and finally, manifested through needy, unattractive behavior. An example of this would be a man with low self-esteem who feels a severe lack of confidence interacting with women (or anybody, really), and therefore has developed bizarre beliefs about why people would or would not like him. As such, he believes he needs to impress them with money or accomplishments, make fun of others, or pretend like he’s too cool for anyone else. As a result, these beliefs manifest themselves as needy behaviors and turn off many women.
Men with the latter problem probably suffer from some sort of complex surrounding women and likely had a complicated relationship with their mother growing up. Regardless, the end result is the same: pussy is put on a pedestal. So even though these men may be high self esteem individuals in other areas of their lives (successful in business, have tons of friends, etc.), when confronted with a woman they’re attracted to, they instinctively subjugate themselves to her opinion and become needy. One could argue that the elevation of women in pop culture could very well be having a massive influence on men in general, as it seems more men today than ever supplicate themselves and idolize female sexuality more than ever before.
Anyway, an example of a guy suffering from this would be your classic Nice Guy syndrome: successful, charming, interesting guy who stumbles over himself buy a girl gifts, taking her out to nice restaurants, checking his phone every hour to see if she’s called or texted. All in all, he’s a good guy, well put-together, confident in most situations, yet his valuation of women is massively skewed causing him to lose confidence in front of attractive dates, develop bizarre beliefs (you need to buy women flowers for them to like you), and ultimately, exhibiting needy behaviors (drunk voicemails crying over a girl he went on two dates with, etc.).
The two causes of needy behavior often go hand-in-hand, or at least appear to. But they appear separately quite often as well. The second type of needy man is usually the easier fix. It’s just a matter of re-orienting some of his unhealthy over-estimations of women and getting him to respect himself a little more in their presence. His foundation of self-esteem makes changing the proper behaviors easier, and the proper beliefs and perceptions soon follow.
It’s the first type of guy who takes more work, particularly because low self-esteem individuals are so poor at accurately interpreting their own experiences and behaviors. Until they’re able to learn to do this, progress occurs very slowly, or not at all.
So now that we’ve got kind of a better understanding of neediness and how it relates to men’s behavior (if you want the full rundown, I recommend buying the book), I want to address what some people on the board seem to have done, which is try and use non-neediness as their measuring stick for success.
First of all, let’s be clear. We’re all human. We all look for validation from those around us. We all care about what other people think to a certain degree. And barring sociopaths, we always will. The goal here is NOT to ELIMINATE neediness from our lives — it’s impossible to do this without completely gutting ourselves of all emotions or empathy — the goal here is to re-prioritize our perception of ourselves vis-a-vis the perceptions of the women we interact with. We want to focus on validating ourselves more and become less of a junkie for the validation we receive from others. The external validation will always exist and will always matter, but the more internal validation we create, the less the external validation will matter.
So it’s a relative goal we’re looking for, not an absolute. And it will shift from interaction to interaction. For instance, it’s healthy and normal to exhibit a higher need for validation and occasional neediness from your wife of 10 years. It’s not healthy or normal to need a lot of validation from a woman you’ve known for 15 minutes. For some reason, some guys are reading the neediness section of my book as a prescription to start measuring one’s own neediness in all scenarios and try to eliminate it completely.
But here’s the irony, and something that may blow your mind: The act of analyzing one’s own neediness while talking to a woman is, in itself, a needy behavior. Stop it.
Stop trying to quantify and maximize everything. Non-neediness is the ROOT of attractive behavior, not the attractive behavior itself. Standing there in your head and obsessing over your level of neediness while some girl is trying to connect with you or joke with you, is just going to inspire more needy behavior. In the book, I go into painstaking detail of what non-needy behavior looks like and how to practice it — in fact, like, 11 of the 15 chapters are dedicated to BEHAVIORS, not to the theory behind the behavior. Practicing the proper behaviors reduces your neediness. It’s not a coincidence that I dedicated the majority of the book to it.
Non-neediness is an experience, a feeling, a perspective. It’s not something you can maximize or measure. It’s simply a self-perception. Feeling it can be described in many forms. Many people around the dating industry try to describe what the experience of non-neediness consists of, whether it’s “being non-reactive,” or “centered and present,” or “not giving a fuck,” or whatever. These all kind of get at the experience, but don’t encapsulate the extent of it or how it comes about.
The best way I can describe the experience of non-neediness is by something a student of mine once described as “The Filter Switch.” What he meant by it is that suddenly one night he went on a date with a girl and realized that instead of sitting there and focusing on meeting her standards, as he had for years and years prior, now he was sitting there and evaluating whether she met his standards or not. Whether she was good enough for him had become far more important to him than trying to be good enough for her. Nothing objectively changed about the kind of girl he was out with, what they were doing, what they were talking about, or how he met her. He was likely saying the same jokes, telling similar stories, and being just as physical.
What did change was his perception of himself and his value relative to hers. She was a person he didn’t know well. And it’s healthy and normal to screen and filter people we don’t know well to see if we want them to become part of our lives. This is ostensibly the entire purpose of dates themselves: so that both people can sit down and see if the other person meets their standards and is capable of fulfilling many of their emotional needs.
That simple change in mindset and self-perception silently seeps into all of your actions and words, affecting everything, without thought or effort. It’s no coincidence that soon after having that experience, he landed a hot girlfriend.
And that’s the best description I can think of experiencing non-neediness: which direction is the filter pointing? Are you trying to pass through her filter? Or is she trying to pass through yours? In most interactions it won’t be 100% one or the other — as I said, we all do care what other people think and always will — but there will be a clear feeling within yourself which one you’re prioritizing more, who is prioritizing who more.
Is this something you can go out and practice? Not directly. And it’s definitely not going to change overnight. But like practicing behaviors, practicing mindsets can also positively influence your self-perception and help you become more accustomed to newer, healthier mindsets as you try to adopt them completely.
Likely though, developing the filter switch will be a gradual process, a result of a lot of time invested in yourself. It may be something you notice periodically as time goes on and from interaction to interaction. It’ll be a feeling. Something that arises into your consciousness. And perhaps an occasional reminder: “Wait, why am I trying to prove anything to this girl? I don’t know her or if I even like her yet.”
Finally, I’d like to pre-emptively bat away a question I’m sure will come up (it always does). The question goes something like this:
“If we’re supposed to be non-needy and be more concerned with what we think than what she thinks, and she’s supposed to prove herself to us and all of that, then how do you explain approaching and escalating and calling her first and all of that — isn’t that just needy behavior?”
Oi, again, this is covered in detail in the book. But the answer is no, it’s not necessarily needy behavior. It can be. But it isn’t always. When you want to buy a new car and you go to look at them, you’re approaching the car dealership, but do you try to convince the salesman of how good of a driver you are? Doubtful.
Any action or behavior can be needy or non-needy. What determines the degree of neediness is the intention behind the behavior. I can go out and approach 20 hot women for the sheer joy of it and not be needy with any of them. Or I can sit in a nightclub at a VIP table with $500 bottles of vodka and have 20 women approach me that night and be exhibiting extremely needy behavior the entire night.
And if that doesn’t make sense to you, then you really need to read the damn book.