I can feel the withdrawals kicking in whenever you're gone. Do you feel it too? Does your head pound and ache when you don't hear my voice? Is it like the life was taken from you whenever we're apart? I can't handle not having you here with me. I can't handle not being able to touch you. I need you.
Attachment Styles and Why ‘I Need You’ Can Mean More Than I Love You
At this point, I think we’re all familiar with the ‘I need you’ scene but I’d like to dust off my old undergrad psych degree and give you a character analysis.
In psychology, it’s generally agreed upon that a person’s relationships with their primary caregivers in childhood can impact how they react and behave in relationships later in life.
One way to look at this is through a person’s ‘attachment style’. If all goes well the parent and child develop a secure bond. However, for a number of reasons, this doesn’t always happen. When this doesn’t happen a person develops an insecure attachment style. They aren’t all relevant here, so I’m just going to go into what I believe Dean’s attachment style is. It’s important, I promise we’re circling back to ‘I need you’.
Judging by the way Dean acts throughout the show, I think he has an insecure-avoidant attachment style.
An avoidant attachment style is generally developed when a child’s needs aren’t met by their caregiver (looking at you, John Winchester). Parents of people with avoidant attachment styles tend to be dismissive of their child’s needs or emotionally distant.
To combat this, a child learns to look after their own needs. They become dependent on themselves. They try to build themselves into a person who doesn’t ‘need’ anybody because then they will never be let down. As a person ages, this core belief remains the same.
This rings true when thinking about how Dean generally raised himself and Sam while trying to turn himself into the human equivalent of a Swiss-Army knife. He tries to be a mother and father figure for himself and Sam while trying to be a soldier for John, a normal kid for people outside his family and later a ‘playboy’ when it comes to women. Heavy is the head that wears a thousand different hats, I guess. He has to be a million different things at once because he doesn’t want to rely on other people. He doesn’t want to need other people, because past trauma has taught him if he needs someone, they’ll let him down.
In adult relationships people with avoidant attachment styles typically fear intimacy, hence Dean’s ‘ladies man’ persona. He spends the early seasons getting with a lot of women but he’s had next to no intimate relationships across the show. There’s Lisa, possibly Cassie and of course, Cas. People with avoidant attachment styles tend to withdraw when a relationship starts to become too ‘real’ for fear of being dependant on another person when they have shaped themselves into a person who doesn’t need anybody.
So, when Dean says, ‘I need you,’ to Cas as someone who has been brought up with the core belief that he shouldn’t ‘need’ anyone, that ‘needing’ a person will lead to being hurt and rejected it means a damn lot, maybe even more than ‘I love you’.
I'm counting down the seconds until I can see you. I can't sleep at night unless I can feel you there with me, even if it's just your voice. My fingers ache when they aren't able to comb oh so softly through your hair. You leave me longing, wishing for more of whatever it is you give me. How is it that every inch of you is perfect? How is it that the longer I watch you the more I fall in love? You're my life at this point, and I just know that I couldn't live without you. How did I wake up before knowing you?