Fables from the Hood - Dog and Fish / Need for Neediness

It was a wonderful morning. The night had been a pleasant mild evening with a light breeze and warm wind. The sun was up early to greet all the animals as they began their day. So too the Dog and the Fish who meant for an early morning chat.

Dog: Morning Fish!

Fish: Morning Dog, what’s up with you? You look a bit green around the gills.

Dog: Bad night sleep, I was up all night barking up the wrong tree. Just couldn’t get these thoughts outta my head.

Fish: Are you overthinking something again? You tend to do that.

Dog: No, I’m stuck in a loop reflecting on my previous relationships. I spoke to the Panda last night. The Panda told me something that stuck with me.

Dog(cont): In talking to the Panda I realised that I’ve always taken on a supportive role in my relationships, the carer if you will.

Fish: How do you mean that? Supportive can mean many things: financial, emotional, physical, intellectually, time, effort, and so on. Did you always have the feeling that your provided support for your partner?

Dog: Looking back, I have the feeling that I’ve given more than I got in relationships and ironically my partner always need more than me. I mean emotional support here, being there in times of need and constantly listening to worries about something or another. The tower of strength.

Fish: Did you do this consciously or is it something that happened as the relationship developed?

Dog: To be honest, I believe I unconsciously I chose my partner on the basis of needing support. Unfortunately, since they needed support, they simple can’t give support. So I was left out in the cold when I needed support.

Dog (cont): But I didn’t know this until last night as I was talking to the Panda. I always just believed that I had bad taste in partners.

Fish: So unconsciously you chose someone who was bad for you in the long term but good in the short term?

Dog: I suppose in the short term it was fulfilling to provide support but in the long term my energy levels dropped. As soon as my supportive energy dissipated, the relationship normally ended. So yes, each relationship became a futureless dystopia as soon as I needed supported from my partner.

Fish: But why would you continually get into the same type of relationship?

Dog (With a look that could kill): …

Fish (cont): Wait! I take that back, it is so hard to discern emotional feelings and ever harder, emotionally recognise those patterns. It simply takes a lot of time.

Dog: Indeed, that is very true. I have been reflecting on the fact that I have always gotten into the same types of relationship, that is, that I always take over the supportive role in the relationship.

Dog (cont): Last night the Panda said something that made me think. The point the Panda made was, that perhaps I need to be needed, a kind of need for neediness.

Fish: A need to be needed? Interesting. You mean you needed to have the feeling that someone needs you? That you have someone who requires you to be there?

Dog: Yes, so I needed to have a feeling I am needed by some other person. So in providing support for my partners, I was needed by my partner. Thus I was fulfilling my need for being needed!

Fish: Didn’t friends or relations give you that feeling?

Dog: Not in the same way. Certainly my family didn’t give me the feeling I was needed and friends were not close enough to give that level of neediness.

Fish: I guess if you do not grow up with a loving and supportive family, then you might well need that feeling of meaning something to someone. Without having that feeling of being needed, one sees no purpose in life and one can be a little lost.

Dog: Yes that sums it up very well. Ironically I feel myself better when I provide support for someone else. Unfortunately not having realised that I myself take up that role in a relationship, I blame my partner for always taking so much not giving me support when it gets too much for me.

Conversational our two friends paused here to reflect upon what had been said. Both where very experienced in the development of socio-economic models for the further development of the interrelated correlations of the animal kingdom. But in addition to that, they found a great deal of pleasure in simple chat between friends.

Fish: I don’t know about you, but sometimes things come together in strange ways. I was reading this article just yesterday about parentification and it could provide you with an insight into where your need to be needed is coming from.

Dog: Parentification? C’est quoi ?

Fish: Basically the articles author is trying to find out how psychotherapists deal with all the difficult issues of their patients. How can someone deal with so much pain and still enjoy their job? The interesting thing is that it’s related to their childhood.

Dog: I assumed psychotherapists probably just have their own psychotherapists. What does their childhood have to do with it?

Fish: The theory is that children that grow up in a difficult childhood where they were forced to take up a parenting role, be it for their siblings, parents or friends, become caring people and actually seek this role out.

Fish (cont): Emotional what a child learns in becoming a parenting-figure at such an early age is that helping someone makes that someone happy but more importantly it also improves the situation for themselves. So they develop a feedback loop: helping someone to be happy makes them feel better and that makes themselves feel happy.

Dog: How does this relate to the psychotherapists?

Fish: The article makes the claim large percentage of psychotherapists involved in the research had these bad childhoods. In later life they still feed off this happiness feedback loop, basically they do not focus on the bad issues, rather they have a kick of joy when they can help their patients. It’s the kick of joy that they experienced as children. This in turn makes their job so enjoyable for them.

Dog: Ok, I understand: they have a need to help someone for they own personal happiness. Are you perhaps suggesting that I also have a need to help people for my own personal happiness? So in my case the need to be needed and the need to help people come together in one person.

Fish: That’s why I enjoy talking to you, your are open to reflection on yourself.

Dog: Thank you Fish, I’m glad I could make you happy.

Fish: I bet you are!

Dog: Wait …. Ok, got me there.

…. pause ….

Dog : It does seem a little ironic that the best people come from the worst families.

Fish: You mean people who develop this parentification tend to be more caring about others around them?

Dog: Yes and it is a pity that a brutal upbringing is what is required for such simple acts as sharing, caring and happiness.

Fish: That would be a generalisation as there are plenty of people who are nice to the fellow travellers on spaceship Earth who didn’t experience a bad childhood however I agree, it is strange that human nature has this characteristic that hate can make loving people.

Dog: Hate can make love, that is so true. One only has to look at abusive relationships to see that.

Fish: Abusive relationships, masochistic relationships, sadistic relationships, you name, humans have a name for it.


Fish: Have you thought about an alternative to your model of always getting into a relationship with partners that need support?

Dog: Well that’s a little difficult, there has to be a right balance between giving and taking.

Fish: Too much giving, not enough taking can also be a problem. So getting into a relationship with someone who has experienced parentification, for someone who also has the need for neediness, could be too much of a good thing.

… end …