I Want You to Want Me

I’ve talked about situational control and personal control, but there’s one type of control that I struggle with possibly more than any other. Control over other people (but not in a FiftyShadesofGrey way, don’t worry)

I don’t actually know if the song is called “I want you to want me” but the second line is “I need you to need me” and between the two they articulate all of my interpersonal relationships. I went through school with a small but amazing group of friends who genuinely wanted my company. And a big group of “friends” who engaged in a codependent relationship where they made me feel needed and in return I’d help them seem smarter than they were.

And actually, that’s fine. That’s really how interpersonal relationships work. Everyone has something, and other people want it, and then it’s a wonderful exchange of thoughts and feelings and personality quirks and support and comedy and life. Which is great.

Until you realise how much you rely on it.

Because I consciously depend on my friends, and that’s an uncomfortable thing, because if there’s one thing you can’t control at all, it’s other people. They are unpredictable. They might love you one day and then find something which annoys them enough to abandon you the next. Humans are difficult things. As a person who likes knowing where they stand, the uneven ground of friendship is a minefield. That minefield is made insanely more complicated when you’re also an anxious person who over-analyses every response, every choice, every message response time. It’s unhealthy.

So that’s wanting people to want me. Let’s talk needing people to need me.

I’m really aware of my friends, and I actively try to please them and do nice things so they’ll still like me, and over-analyse every little detail. So it’s a jackpot when I find a situation where people like having me around because they needed me, and I fix things, and then they like having me around and asking my advice and making me feel valued. To the point where I need that validation, and it’s the only thing which really matters. I’m happy enough most of the time, but when I do something for someone and feel like I’m the only person in the world who could have achieved that outcome for them. That’s real happiness.

I’m fully aware it’s a problem. Don’t you worry your head.

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