Be Cold Pizza — Needy AF #1

Take Home Point — When our friends disappoint us, sometimes we filter out all the good times that have occurred recently and don’t notice that perhaps our friends hold onto those feelings for longer than we do. They don’t always need to see us as much and our attempt to create more positive feelings overfills them.

you’ve had the great idea that you want to go for a hike on Saturday. The weather is gonna be great, you know your pal/friend/lover enjoys being outside and you just NEED to talk with them cause there is stuff on your mind. So you text them on Thursday evening (Friday is too late — they might get into other plans if you wait!) to invite them to go. There’s no way they can resist!

9:30PM — a response, but not want you wanted to hear. “Sorry, I can’t make it I have to take the kids/mom/cousin/dog to “somewhere”. Maybe next time! You respond back some nicety about how it’s no big deal, yada, yada, yada. But underneath your troubled and upset. Why don’t they ever wanna go? Are they mad at me? We didn’t do anything last week at all. We’ve barely spoke, don’t they know how much this means to me? Are we still friends? Does my BF not love me?

So, to those of you who know this, you really know the spiral out of control mental conversation above. How do we not get out of control like this?

The Faulty Thought — “Filtering”

Let’s recognize a potential fault that you use to justify your behavior. You are hurt so you begin “Filtering” — for example: “They never hang out with me”, “They are never available”, “They are always saying no”. But you neglect to note that you texted all week about something at work, they liked your FB announcement and you went to the movies 12 days ago. Also, you went as families on a one week vacation to the beach two months ago. So you can hardly say they NEVER spend time with you. But there are two sides to filtering — we filter out good things to justify our pain or bad things to justify staying with this person; but we also filter out things that happened just a few days ago, again to justify the feeling that we are alone. Why?

I feel “needy” souls, like myself, are particularly prone to recency bias in which it’s hard to “feel” connected to activities that happened before. It only feels “real” when it was fairly recent (Yesterday!). Other people can live off the high of an activity for weeks or more. An activity can make them feel relationship “full” for longer. Their hunger for friendship/love/bonding is satiated for longer. Recognize that other people simply don’t need to interact as much as you do to “feel” connected and bonded. They don’t filter out good and bad things that happened last month or even last year. Those activities still feel quite real which means they don’t need as much of it since the residue of past activities still persist in their mind. Maybe a metaphor will help here…

I love pizza. I could eat pizza at every meal. As a grown adult, I sometimes will have cold pizza for breakfast. I’ve been know to warm up pizza for lunch from the night before. Order it for dinner — of course. I’ve even made my own flat-bread pizza, made my own self-rising dough and will eat regional examples of pizza in NYC or Chicago. I sometimes forget how often I’ve had it until it’s all gone so quickly. It’s obviously not the healthiest option, but it’s not that bad since it’s satisfying, can have vegetables on it and I generally like it.

But imagine you are the friend, they open the fridge and they see a wide range of foods in there — salad, quinoa, yesterday’s Mexican, stir-fry broccoli, eggs, yogurt, grandma’s pecan pie slices and … cold pizza. They like cold pizza too! In fact, they’ve had cold pizza the past few days. It’s comforting, relatively nourishing and most of the time they look forward to having it. But today, not so much cause they’ve had cold pizza like 10 times in the past two weeks. They are going to have some yogurt instead.

Many people need variety in their diet and in their friendships. All of us are different, but I suspect that “needy” people’s recency bias issue helps them to forget how much pizza they had last week so that eating more this week is not a big deal. Like the slate gets blanked after a week or two and you can not get tired of it. When your BF is scanning that fridge for sustenance, they are probably remembering they had cold pizza 5 times this week already and last week. They aren’t thinking about the cold pizza’s feelings, or if it wants to be eaten or whether it’ll feel left out if they eat the broccoli; instead they are looking for something that fills whatever they need now but they know they’ve had just a little too much cold pizza.

You may want to eat cold pizza everyday, but your friend may not. You may be able to filter out the bad pizza you had two weeks ago or the gluttonic pizza orgy you had at Rob’s birthday party, but they may not. They may need more variety than you. They still like cold pizza, will eat it when given a chance, but it CAN’T make up 100% of their meals because they aren’t built that way. In fact, if they open the fridge and the ONLY thing in there is cold pizza, at some point in the very near future, they will get tired of cold pizza. In fact they may get so sick of being required to eat cold pizza, that they may decide to never eat cold pizza again. They may happily choose to eat cold pizza 3 times a week, but if you demand they eat it every day for every meal, they will resent the cold pizza and stop eating it all together.

So BE COLD PIZZA. It’s enjoyable, comforting and almost always looked forward to, but just as people don’t want cold pizza for every meal, they don’t want you for every activity. Your super-power to filter out things that happened two days ago hampers you into not being able to recognize that others haven’t or can’t filter that out. So they still feel “full”. Imagine how unhealthy your partner would be if cold pizza was all they had to eat. Think of yourself as frequent positive nourishment in your BFs life but not all the time and sometimes maybe not for a week or two. Trust that you don’t have to force cold pizza on them — they want it already, but just not as often as you do. So relax, they always come back for the pizza.

Note: If you feel you are being actively abused, know that abuse from others is NEVER ok and should not be tolerated. If you are feeling deeply depressed or suicidal, immediately contact a friend, family member or trusted counselor and let them know. If that is not possible contact the National Suicide Hotline: 1–800–273–8255. You can’t depend on others to fix you, but they can find help for you…let them.



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The Needy Professor

I‘ve earned my Doctorate in Clinginess and want to dispense hard-earned advice from someone who’s been there. *There is no actual doctorate in Neediness*