I’ve never dealt with a client in psychotherapy who didn’t have trouble tolerating neediness in one way or another. In graduate school, the readings on this subject were fairly dry and theoretical, with talk about “feeding relationships,” or “good breasts” and “bad breasts” and how early frustration leads to particular defensive structures; but the bottom line is that the way we navigate that early experience of need often forms the basis for some enduring character traits throughout life. We humans tend to generalize from one kind of need to another, so that those early encounters with deprivation might affect, for example, our love relationships in later life.
Here’s an example from my practice, and one that will likely remind you of other people you’ve known. One of my clients came from a fairly chaotic background; the details aren’t as important as the fear of abandonment he grew up with. As an adult, he found it impossible to sustain a relationship with a woman of any length. He preferred Internet pornography and masturbation, forms of desire where he didn’t have to depend upon another person to satisfy him. His attitude toward women was largely remote and contemptuous. Nobody was good enough; women only wanted to use him him to get what they wanted from him.