Men Need to Feel Needed

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Advice for Independent Women

Years ago, when I led group counseling for soldiers who had abused or were dependent on alcohol, one of the sessions began with me posing the question, "What would you feel if your girlfriend or wife did not need you?"

Although the question was a lead-in to the concept of alcohol dependence, the men's answers were unequivocal. Men needed to feel needed. The very question induced near panic in them. As a female soldier, I was surprised by their convictions. I wondered, "Why would men want a woman to be clingy or needy?"

Over time, I came to understand that men and women can have a different idea of what the word "need" means in a relationship.

In my first marriage, I washed laundry, fixed dinner, cleaned the kitchen, ironed his clothes every morning, and took care of the bulk of childcare, all while working full time. Sometimes my ex criticized me about the way the house looked, and I rarely heard a "thank you" or saw signs of appreciation. I resented it and believed he was taking me for granted. If asked, I'd have said that those acts were kindnesses that demonstrated my love for him, but I'd never have said he needed me to do them. After all, he was fully capable of completing those same tasks.

But I craved what was lacking: appreciation.

Men want their partners to "need" the things they do. A man wants to feel like his partner appreciates what he brings to the relationship so much that she wouldn't dream of wanting anything else. His ideal woman couldn't fathom a better life than the one he delivers, and that's why she needs him.

For women who have supported themselves financially, this can be a tricky navigation. You're used to paying your bills, taking your car in for oil changes, and knowing how to find solutions to problems.

He's accustomed to being rewarded for "doing" things - merely taking up couch space isn't worthy of reward and he knows it. But if he thinks that his efforts will be met with a "Ho-hum. Yeah, thanks. I could have done that, too," he isn't going to feel important in your life.

It's no different than the way he responds to a tasty meal you've prepared. He can follow the same recipe, but when he tells you just how tasty it is, you feel accomplished and valued.

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you can do it as well or as quickly as he does. And even if you're able to match his promptness and quality of work, he still takes a burden from your shoulders when he mows a lawn, changes the oil in your car, or fixes a leaking pipe. So let him know just how terrific he is at those things he brings to the relationship.

Let your man shine in the areas where he feels most competent and focus your energies on thanking him with in ways that let you be uniquely special to him: Words of thanks, a shoulder massage, a thoughtful gift, or a well-cooked meal will go further than your paycheck when it comes to making your man feel like a man.




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Comments 8 comments

Serena Gabriel 4 years ago

My experience with this "needing to be needed" is that it is a ploy of control freaks. They want you entirely dependent on them and preferably isolated so they can begin robbing and raping you. Guys who come on like this (which is many if not most) are parasites who will eventually maneuver you into a situation where you'll be struggling for your life while they abuse you in every way imaginable, rob you of your money and destroy your credit.

Interesting article!


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA Author

Hi Serena,

Thanks for reading and commenting. There are certainly some toxic types out there, but I firmly believe even the best men have the same need. They're probably not out there telling it to their women as a manipulative ploy, however.

I would say any man who tries to manipulate or control his lady's behaviors - no matter how he does it - is waving a big yellow flag in her face that she shouldn't ignore. I'll write more later about power struggles in relationships.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Excellent reading for all those who plan on having relationships with men. Voting this Up and Useful.


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks, alocsin!


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Voted up and interesting.

While I think everyone likes to be needed to some degree, I think that in a relationship it is far more important to show appreciation for your partners' efforts, whether or not you could do it better or 'just as well' doesn't really matter.


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for the votes, Brett!

I think we said the same thing.


delicate doll profile image

delicate doll 4 years ago

how can you sit there and complain about your first husband like that and expect us to be grateful to them? You left out a big chunk of meeting another person who was grateful to have you(and things turned out better.)You're right about one thing though, both men and women need to show appreciation for each other. Sorry if I offended!


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for reading, Delicate Doll. No offense taken.

I didn't know how to be grateful or to choose well for a long time. Doing both goes a long way toward having the kind of relationship most of us dream about.

I wouldn't offer appreciation or gratitude to a person who treated me poorly, but I don't have to be unappreciative even if someone else is incapable of it.

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