5 Reasons Why Neediness Kills Relationships

Why Neediness is a Repulsive Characteristic in Relationships: Insights from a Mating Game


Relationships are complex, and interpersonal dynamics can vary widely from person to person. Some individuals may be comfortable showing their vulnerability, while others may find it difficult to open up emotionally. In the context of romantic relationships, neediness is often seen as a negative trait, which may drive other people away. But why is neediness so repulsive? Oliver Emberton, the founder of Silktide, a website quality and content optimization platform, explains this phenomenon on Quora through a hypothetical mating game. In this article, we will delve deeper into Emberton’s insights and explore the possible reasons why neediness can be a turn-off for others.

The Mating Game

Imagine a room filled with 100 men and 100 women. Each person has a number from 1 to 10 written on their forehead, representing their attractiveness level. However, they cannot see their own numbers, and no one is allowed to reveal them. The task is simple: everyone has to pair up with the highest-ranked person of the opposite sex they can find. What would happen next?

As Emberton describes, the nines and tens would immediately attract huge crowds of people vying for their attention. These individuals would realize that their attractiveness rating is high, as evidenced by the number of suitors lusting after them. In contrast, those with lower scores would have to guess and gamble, hoping to find someone who considers them attractive. Thus, the game provides a simple way to gauge one’s desirability in the mating market.

The Clue to Your Attractiveness is How Needy Other People Act Around You

But what is the connection between neediness and attractiveness? Emberton argues that needy people are less attractive because, in evolutionary terms, neediness is perceived as a bad signal. Like a fear of spiders or scorpions, it is a primal instinct that protects our best interests, even if we do not consciously understand why. Needy individuals convey the message that they think the other person is better than them, and they are willing to do anything to win their approval. This can be off-putting because it suggests that the needy person lacks confidence and self-esteem, two traits that are highly valued in the mating game.

Conversely, aloofness can also be seen as a bad signal, as it suggests that the person believes they can do better than the available options. However, this perception may not always be accurate, as people’s opinions about attractiveness are subjective and can vary widely. Ultimately, what matters is how one is perceived by others, and neediness is often seen as a negative characteristic.

The Sales Pitch of Neediness

Another reason why neediness is a turn-off is that it is like a bad sales pitch. As Emberton puts it, “Being needy essentially says ‘you’re so much better than me, please pick me.”’ While it is understandable to want to be chosen by someone we find attractive, such an approach can backfire because it comes across as desperate and lacks authenticity. In contrast, a confident person who values themselves while also expressing genuine interest in the other person is much more likely to succeed in the mating game.

The Complexity of Real-Life Relationships

While Emberton’s mating game provides some useful insights, it is essential to remember that real-life relationships are much more complex than a game. People’s attractiveness scores can change, and what one person finds desirable can differ from another’s preferences. Additionally, attraction can be influenced by factors such as personality, sense of humor, shared values, and life experiences. Therefore, we should avoid reducing human connection to a numerical scale or a simple algorithm.


In conclusion, neediness is repulsive in relationships because it suggests low confidence and self-esteem, is perceived as a bad signal, and can come across as a bad sales pitch. While it is crucial to be authentic and express our emotions in a healthy way, being needy is not a winning strategy. Real-life relationships are complex and involve many factors that cannot be quantified or easily measured. Therefore, it is important to value ourselves, respect our boundaries, and focus on building genuine connections with the people we care about.

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