I’m sure it’s happened to you before. You get home after a nice date with a handsome guy, he looked just like his pics online, so that’s a plus right out of the gate. Sex was pretty much a slam dunk so he’s definitely getting a second try and you’re actually looking forward to it. You get the usual text message accompanied by some cute emoji…
“tonight was really great, thanks for being so cool.”
You smile and drift off to sleep as you contemplate how dating really isn’t that bad after all.
The next morning you wake to the familiar routine of shutting off the alarm on your phone, oversleeping, and suddenly realizing you’re late for work. As you rush to get yourself together and out the door, you notice you have a text message on your phone which must be from the office reminding you of a meeting you’re late for. In what has become a very automatic set of movements for your fingers, you navigate immediately to your texts and retrieve the poorly timed piece of information…
“thinking of you.”
“Huh?” You wonder who this is from and suddenly realize it’s the nice guy you met last night. Normally you might be happy to receive a message like this but there’s a weird sort of energy behind it and it gets even stranger when you realize it was sent at five AM. Who does that? Of course it doesn’t end there and whatever enthusiasm you had for the guy begins to diminish rather quickly as you realize you snatched a needy gay man. Not so easily unhooked, it takes skill and cunning to release these fish back into the sea. Unfortunately the experience isn’t that uncommon to you and you beat yourself up all week swearing you’ll be more careful the next time.
So what makes a gay man so needy and why are there so many of them?
Before you answer that question with a list of colorful adjectives, let me explain that I consider myself to be extremely needy at times and I’m sure my partner Eric wouldn’t disagree. Although my tendency to need constant emotional validation comes at a different stage in a relationship, mostly when it’s been well established and years in, it eventually creeps its ugly head out and I’m left wondering why he hasn’t texted me all day. My level of anxiety steadily increasing until I hear the custom text tone of Lieutenant Uhura urgently stating: “Captain Kirk, message from Starfleet Command! top Priority!” Ahhhh… all is well in the world, I can relax.
We should start by breaking down neediness into what it really is, a fear that the person you love or are attracted to, will no longer be there or lose interest. This fear can even bleed over into other types of interpersonal relationships, to those persons you respect, admire or report to at work. A person might require constant validation at the office for example, that they’re doing a great job, while others wouldn’t find it necessary because they know they’re producing amazing work. Are you reading this Odilia? Did you see how quickly I deployed that last server?
I’m not a therapist but I’ve spent enough time inside of their offices to know why I’m needy and I think it applies to lots of gay men. Many of us didn’t have the best relationship with our fathers, usually because we didn’t identify with them or we feared they wouldn’t love us if they knew who we really were. Maybe our fathers were distant because they saw something in our personalities that scared them, and they were raised in an era where being gay was associated with mental disorders. Perhaps they were just plain homophobic assholes. In any case, as we mature into adulthood and start looking for that special someone to share our life with, we are reminded of our painful emotional past with our first significant male figure. Some of us, almost immediately, need the assurance that they wont go away and in the process often push Mr. Right into the next zip code. If having a bad relationship with your father can make you this needy, I can only imagine what it would do to someone that had it bad with both parents, and even their siblings.
While a good amount of self confidence will keep your neediness at bay, I also think communication plays a huge role. Some people just aren’t good at figuring others out and processing verbal and visual cues. Simply being clear to someone about how you feel would save both of you a lot of time and frustration. Unfortunately most people don’t excel at this ability and so it’s usually left up to the needy person to control and deal with it, or the other fella to run away. Of course none of this really works if you don’t even realize that you’re needy in the first place. Throw in a dash of cultural pre-disposition to neediness and you’re in for a great ride.
So here’s the deal. Objectively decide if you’re needy or ask your friends, the good ones that won’t lie to you, if you are. Ask for examples of when you’ve been needy so you have some idea of what it looks like. Find out your source of neediness, usually something based in fear or insecurity, and deal with it professionally. Many people don’t hesitate to invest money into their personal appearance, do the same for your mental health. Work on your self confidence, and know that you’re worth a repeat date. Finally, if you’re dealing with a needy person, be honest with them. Tell them immediately you’re not interested (in a direct but kind way) if you can’t deal with their need to know it, many times a day. It might suck for both of you at first, but in the long run both of you will benefit.