Jan 072018 1 Response

When You Love Someone Too Much

“I just love too much.” It’s a phrase I hear on a regular basis. Whether in romantic relationships, parents to adult children, or friendships, one party is hurting over an aspect of the relationship and their self-diagnosis for the pain is too much love.

It’s well-intended. Sincere. And wrong.

Moderation is the key to everything, but love. Too much rain can kill a crop. Too much food hurts our health. Too much of anything hinders vitality. But love is the exception. (See: Are You Being Used and Not Loved?)

Loving others doesn’t hurt us. It can’t occur in damaging abundance. We can’t love too much.

So why do some believe the source of their sorrow is too much love? It’s because not everything we believe to be love is love. The truth is, when you think you love too much, you might not be loving at all.

“Loving too much” is often code language for not loving at all. True love is about the other person. We choose to do what’s in the best interest of the other. When we say we love too much, what we are often saying is that we are hurt because others are not reciprocating our love. In actuality, we aren’t loving them to love them. We are loving them to get love in return. We aren’t loving them, we are using them.

4 Ways To Avoid Loving “Too Much”

While the real problem is never “too much” love, people are correct in recognizing that something is wrong. Rather than attempting to care less or love less, try this:

1. Admit the issue isn’t too much love. While it feels as though if you cared less things would be better, the problem isn’t excess love. Until the truth is recognized, we cannot improve. As long as we are blaming our ills on too much love, we will not be able to find the true solutions. (See: Love Doesn’t Always Feel Loving)

2. Find your identity apart from other people. To love others well, we must understand who we are. Too often, we use love as a way to get what we cannot find for ourselves. If we are insecure, struggling to define ourselves, or in need, we attempt to love others hoping they will reciprocate that love. We think that being loved will give us meaning, value, and identity. But there is a problem. If we get our value from the love of another, what happens if that other chooses not to love us? Does that make us useless? If we are somebody if another loves us, are we nobodies if they choose to love someone else? Meaning, value, and identity may be strengthened through meaningful relationships but they are not ultimately sourced in relationships. We bring ourselves to relationships, we do not get ourselves from them. Love to give more than you love to get.

3. Draw strong boundaries. “Loving too much” is often a sign we are not drawing proper boundaries. Healthy relationships–romantic, parent/child, friendships, etc.–include clear boundaries between both parties. Me, you, and us are all necessary for a good relationship. In unhealthy connections, one or both parties lose their individual identity. They become fully defined by the relationship. This makes us fully dependent on the other. While some dependence is necessary, even healthy, too much dependence limits our ability to love. Strong boundaries remind us what defines us and what doesn’t. They reveal what we control and what we don’t. When a person has strong boundaries, they know what decisions are solely their’s to make and what decisions belong to another person. They can distinguish between their personal choices and the outcomes which are experienced.

4. Recognize that true love can hurt. When we care about others and they make bad choices, we sometimes hurt for them more than they hurt for themselves. That’s okay. When others are in the midst of addiction or thinking in a selfish way, they may not fully experience the pain on their choices. We might be able to feel it more than them. The sorrow is not evidence that we are doing wrong. It can be a sign that we are loving properly.

I’ve sat with many people–husbands, wives, moms, dads, friends, relatives–and watched them search for answers to their pain. Their heads shake, their eyes drift to the distance, and they say, “I guess I just love too much.” I know it feels that way. I don’t doubt their sincerity. They are right that something is wrong. But their conclusion is false. (See: 5 Signs He Doesn’t Love You)

Love properly, but don’t worry about loving too much. The former is so difficult, you never have to worry about the latter.

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