Admit to being needy in your relationship and you’ll probably raise some eyebrows, whether out of surprise or sheer disapproval.

But neediness isn’t always irrational or unreasonable—not when this insecurity stems from a change in your relationship dynamics.

When it’s OK to be needy

According to Cherlyn Chong, a breakup recovery and dating coach, it’s perfectly normal that you feel needy towards your partner if he has been acting “off”, like if he hasn’t been catering to your love languages the way he usually does.

“Even if you have a healthy attachment to your partner, you may feel needy if he displays a consistent level of withdrawal that doesn’t meet your needs,” she says.

Not sure if you have a healthy attachment to your partner? If you’re OK with not hearing from them for some time, and don’t question what he was doing when you do, it’s probably pretty healthy.

When it’s not OK to be needy

If you constantly find yourself anxious or upset around your partner for no good reason, you might be unbearably needy in your relationship.

“If you instigate arguments a third of the time you’re with your partner, you’re needy once every three interactions with him. This means that you doubt yourself and your partner frequently, even for the slightest things they do,” explains Cherlyn.

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You’re also “bad” needy if you need him around in order to function.

“If you need him to reaffirm everything you do, regardless of what it is, it’s too much,” adds Cindy Leong, a relationship coach at Relationship Studio.

How to find the courage to be needy

Given the negativity neediness is generally associated with, you may try and suppress your neediness even if your feelings are valid.

But you should make it a point to express your insecurity if something from your partner is lacking. Cherlyn recommends doing these four things if you need help drawing up the courage to talk:

  1. Acknowledge it’s completely OK to  make it known that your needs aren’t being met so that you can bring the relationship back to a balance
  2. Ask yourself how your relationship will be five years from now if this continues, and use the realisation to fuel your courage

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  1. See things from your partner’s perspective: Would they want to know that you’re unhappy? Would they care about your feelings? Do they want a happy, healthy future with you? When you make it less about you, you may find it easier to voice out your concerns as your partner will also benefit
  2. Practise vulnerable honesty often with your partner. Follow a three-step process: State how you feel; the specific action they took that made you feel a certain way, and the potential consequences of that action

In short, it’s OK to feel needy if something is different in your relationship. And when you feel that way, you ought to do right by yourself and share your fears with your partner, hard as it may be.