Last week’s article, The Two-Sided Hell of Codependency, spawned a fascinating Facebook conversation about why some narcissists and codependents seem to want us to be needy. They force neediness upon us.

But why!?! What’s in it for them?

Enforcing Neediness

Cue flashback harp music. Think back. Back to that person who seemed to glory in keeping us dependent on them. Someone who did too much. Pried too much. Advised too much. Criticized too much “for your own good.” Helped too much. Someone who pushed neediness upon us for their own selfish ends. I’m thinking of that Matriarch of Codependency, my mother.

But they don’t call it “enforced neediness,” do they? No, they use other euphemisms for it. In my family it was called “not growing up too fast.” The other name for it was “being a family.”

Instilling Self-Doubt

The key upon which neediness turns is whether you can or cannot trust yourself to guide yourself through this laughable thing we call “Life.” The Neediness Enforcer (or “NE” for short) makes sure we don’t trust ourself and don’t rely on ourself. They plant doubt. Gaslight us into doubting our senses, our thoughts, our intuition. Shame us for “poor decision making” when things go wrong. Then come codependently flying to our “rescue.” Masterly manipulated by them, we begin relinquishing control of our own life until, like King Eward VIII, we abdicate entirely paraphrasing his speech: “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as [a person] as I would wish to do without the help and support of the [Neediness Enforcer.]”

Thus finding the monarchy of our lives abandoned, they crown themselves and plop down on the throne of our existence. From then on, through masterly manipulation, they call the shots. What a boost to the narcissist’s False Ego! What purpose it must give the codependent’s life!

At first, they may not be overtly domineeringly, only very, very caring, concerned, loving. But woe to us if we go against their wishes, their choices for us. Ever heard of “furious pouting”? Melody Beattie said that a codependent thwarted will “rip off their halo and pull out their pitchfork” faster than you can “Jack Robinson.”

No Secrets

To be a successful “NE,” it’s imperative that we have no secrets from them. They must know absolutely everything about us. Our secret thoughts, crushes, desires, plans, hopes, dreams. Finances!
If our Neediness Enforcer was our parent, they raised us from infancy to tell them everything. And I mean, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. There were no boundaries, no privacy, no closed doors, no secrets. We were expected to narc on ourselves to them, honestly and completely, even if we knew they were going to punish us for whatever we disclosed. Especially if we were going to be punished.

If our NE is someone we met in adulthood, they employ something called Accelerated Intimacy. First they spill their guts, even seeming needy, which prompts us to spill our guts. Funny how that works. It’s like priming a pump. You almost can’t help yourself.

That’s when they gotcha! The subtle questions. All those suggestions. Casting aspersion on our friends. Giving advice where none is solicited.  I have a friend who is positive my headaches come from my eyes (no, they’re from my neck as I have already told her) and convinced, for no particular reason except that I love doggy kisses, that my intestines are full of worms. She knows exactly what I should be doing…but no one asked her!

Apparently, I reek of neediness.

(Click here to read Part 2.)