It’s understandable that we all start out in life wanting to feel safe, loved, and accepted. It’s in our basic nature to seek security and to want to give and receive love. Some of us figure out that the best way to do this is to put aside what we want or feel and allow someone else’s needs and feelings to take precedence.
While this might work for a while, it’s not sustainable because, over time, resentment builds when we continue to give love and not receive love and caring in return.
But how much love is too much? Let’s take an example.
For instance, Melissa, 43, stayed married to Steve, 45, for ten years and continued to nurture and tried to change him until she began feeling depressed after the birth of their son, and her needs were constantly ignored by Steve.
Melissa put it like this: “It wasn’t until I had my son that I realized how much my needs were being neglected, and my self-esteem hit rock bottom. Steve would come home and expect me to wait on him and ask about his day, without considering that I picked up our baby boy from childcare an hour before and needed love and support too.”
Why do people love someone too much
Is it possible to love someone too much? Can you love someone too much
Well, yes. Loving someone so much that it hurts is possible, and there are reasons why people indulge in that.
A major reason why people tend to be loving too much in a relationship is that they don’t feel worthy. When we feel defective or unlovable, we might not trust others’ intentions to give or do things for us – or to reciprocate loving feelings.
Perhaps you grew up in a family where you were a caretaker or focused more on making others happy. Maybe you even felt that you had to be in a good mood regardless of your true feelings, so you became a people pleaser.
For instance, girls are often raised to tune out their inner voice and this can set the stage for one-sided relationships because they don’t trust their own instincts. Keep in mind that emotional intimacy is not emotional dependency.
Many people love too much because they are fearful of being alone or they feel responsible for their partner’s happiness. They consistently shower excessive love by putting their partner’s needs before their own.
“Nothing erodes self-esteem quicker than an unhealthy relationship. Many women remain in unhealthy marriages because they are convinced that this is what they deserve.”
In some cases, there is no need to leave a relationship because relationships can heal if people are willing to change the dynamics. But in order to heal an unhealthy pattern of codependency, it’s helpful to understand why it’s not a good idea to love too much.
Being vulnerable and asking for what you need promotes emotional intimacy. By loving too much, you will create an illusion of closeness and being in control, but it won’t bring you love. Codependency expertDarlene Lancer writes:
“Being vulnerable allows other people to see us and connect with us. Receiving opens up parts of ourselves that long to be seen and understood. It tenderizes us when we’re truly receiving.”
You may have hidden this from family or friends due to shame or codependency issues – putting your partner’s needs before your own. Loving too much and being in a one-sided relationship can lower your self-worth over time.
4. You will morph into someone else and lose yourself
Since your partner is unable or unwilling to give you the love you deserve – you might fuse into someone else to accommodate their expectations, needs, or desires and sacrifice yourself too much. In the end, you will feel devalued and lose your sense of identity.
5. You will become a people pleaser
When you love someone too much, you may go above and beyond to make others happy. You might avoid confronting your partner about important issues because you focus too much on their needs or worry more about your partner’s feelings than your own.
6. Defining your self-worth by others leads to negative self-judgments
Do you care too much about what others think of you? If you don’t feel loved and respected by your partner but love someone too much, you might become self-critical and second-guess your decisions.
Check out this video where Niko Everett shares her story and gives a lesson on building self-worth and knowing yourself.
Red flags are clear signs that the partnership might lack trust and integrity because the partner you are dealing with might not be the right fit for you. When you love someone too much, you might ignore a partner’s dishonesty, possessiveness, or jealous tendencies because you refuse to face reality.
8.You might even ignore your own self-care
When you love someone too much, you feel that you’re being selfish if you take care of yourself. You direct all your love and care towards your partner and begin to prioritize them over yourself, and you begin to find this approach justified and genuine.
9. You will create poor boundaries
This can mean you have trouble saying “no” to the requests of others or allow others to take advantage of you. When you love too much, you take responsibility for your partner’s actions and emotions.
10. You might keep wishing and hoping your partner will change
Your need to change them can become an addiction. Despite evidence to the contrary, you stick your head in the sand. You hope they will change while staying in a toxic relationship replete with unhealthy relationship patterns.
Tips for a happy partnership
So, how to not love too much? How to stop loving someone too much?
In order to break the pattern of loving too much in relationships, it’s a good idea to teach yourself what healthy relationships look like. Aside from observing your friends (or colleagues) who have them, the secrets to happy partnerships are pretty simple:
Emotional availability by both partners and each managing their own stuff
Reciprocity which means both giving and receiving love
Healthy interdependence—being able to rely on your partner without being too dependent on one another
Shared experiences and a vision for your future
Being trustworthy and showing up every day
Not blaming your partner for what ails you
Being your own person and not being afraid to be alone
If you want to change the pattern of loving a partner too much, listen to your inner voice. How many times have you said, “I knew things were horrible? Why didn’t I trust myself to ask for what I need or leave sooner?”
Why don’t we listen to that inner voice…our intuition? Because doing so might mean that we have made another poor choice. And that just doesn’t feel good. We tend to justify our behaviors, rationalize, and ignore certain things because we just want to be in a relationship.
In those impulsive and emotional moments, we don’t want to stop and examine the red flags. Instead, we put on our rose-colored glasses, and off we go. Rather, throw the glasses away and trust your gut.
If your relationship causes you to feel anxious and you often question your sense of self, it might be one-sided and unhealthy. And you may have become accustomed to loving your partner too much and neglecting your own needs.
Learn to trust your instincts and remind yourself that you deserve to be happy and can stand on your own two feet. Changing behaviors that have landed you in an unhealthy relationship takes time. But it is time well spent.
Even though it can be a painful process, giving yourself the space you need to grow and find clarity will ultimately help you ask for the love you want and find the love you’ve been waiting for. You’re worth it!
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Terry Gaspard MSW, LICSW has been a therapist and relationship expert for over 30 years. Her work focuses on helping individuals, couples, and families become more resilient, build stronger relationships and marriages, and recover after break-up and divorce. She is a contributor to nine websites including The Gottman Institute Relationship Blog and the author of the award-winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents Breakup and Enjoy a Happy Long-lasting Relationship.
Terry?s book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was published by Sounds True in February of 2020. Follow Terry at her website.