The word “needy” gets attached to women when they ask for something that they — or any living, breathing human — may want in a relationship. Allow me to add my voice to the continually growing cohort and call bullshit.

You know who is needy? Dogs. You have to pick up their poop. Babies. You also have to pick up their poop, not to mention do everything else for them. Grandparents. My friend’s grandpa likes his soup at a temperature of exactly 74 degrees. Women, however — or at least no more women than men — are not needy. The people, often cis hetero men, fielding their requests are just lazy.

I’ve heard my guy friends assign this term to plenty of women they were seeing. I always asked for more details about what made them needy, only to be told they wanted to talk or hang out more. It seemed pretty reasonable, so I’d push (I’m a pusher) and ask why the guys themselves didn’t want to do those things. They’d reply with “I don’t feel like it” or “it’s too much work.” But really, they just didn’t care enough to bother. And hey, not caring about something is OK. Not wanting do something for someone is also OK. But when you’re entering or are in the right relationship, you’ll probably want to do those things rather than write them off as somehow unreasonable requests. “For the right person, for someone who genuinely cares about you, your needs matter,” says Dr. Maria Baratta, LCSW. “They’re working toward trying to hear, satisfy, and fulfill your needs.”

Womankind should not shoulder the blame for being clingy or any of the million and one other negative adjectives attributed to us. It’s pretty simple. If someone calls you needy for wanting basic human connection, that person is probably not someone you want to go down a romantic road with. If they put you on blast for asking for one of the following things, dump them ASAP, please.

1. Asking For Better Communication

If someone’s boss asked them to be more communicative in their work, no one would bat an eye. Effective communication is key for most relationships in life — romantic, platonic, familial, whatever. Providing something that humans generally require to move forward in a large number of situations is hardly a huge undertaking.  

2. Expressing Your Feelings

You know what’s better than bottling up your feelings until they’re literally on your tongue causing you to word vomit your rage? Letting your feelings be known as they come up (or once you have had time to digest them) in a calm manner. Feelings may include but are not limited to: “I feel like you’ve been distant lately. Is everything OK?” “I feel like I’ve been doing more of the cleaning. Can we split it up evenly?” “I feel sad, and I’d like you to hold me.” (Spoiler alert: The last one is me, even though I pretend I don’t have feelings.)

3. Wanting More Affection

If you’re a touchy-feely type, it’s very normal to want to hold hands, kiss, or hug your partner. Obviously, that’s not everyone’s preference, but a partner who wants you to be happy won’t claim that putting their arm around you is some sort of burden.

4. Requesting Quality Time

Craving some actual hang time with your S.O. may also be filed under “extremely common things to want in a relationship.” Yes, begging to spend every second together is overkill. But requesting some alone time more than once a week, assuming your schedules allow, is valid. People prioritize who and what matter to them.