This week, my counsellor gave me a book called ‘Women Who Love Too Much’ to read. She said “I think you’re going to relate to a lot of things in here”. How right she was.
There are many people in this world, usually women but not exclusively, who love too much. By that I mean that they love to the detriment of their own health. They are addicted to unhealthy relationships. People who love too much often subconsciously seek out partners who need help in some way; they may have an addiction problem or have suffered trauma or abuse. People who love too much feel the need to be needed, they are drawn to people who they can help but who cannot give them much love in return. They often have low self-worth and do not believe they are lovable so are grateful when someone is attracted to them. They are often terrified of being abandoned and so will do anything to keep their partner even if the relationship (or the partner) is hurting them. Although they may not realise it, they do not know how to let someone love them and will often shy away from true intimacy or people who genuinely care about them.
People who love too much have learned this behaviour in childhood, they may have had a parent who was unable to show them love, or who abandoned them, they may have been addicts and the child had to help them. Once grown up, the child subconsciously seeks out similar relationships in their adulthood so that they can replay the scenarios and conquer their childhood traumas. This rarely comes to fruition without therapeutic help. People who love too much often repeat the same behavioural patterns and have many failed relationships. They choose a partner who needs their help so that they do not have to focus on their own problems. Their relationships fail when their partner no longer needs their help, or realises that they shy away from intimacy, or is fed up of them being controlling.
Additionally, ‘loving too much’ is often linked to anorexia, addiction, depression and anxiety. It also relates to M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as people who love too much are doing so without loving themselves enough to recharge their own batteries. They take abuse without fighting back.
Reading the book and relating to these women who love too much was deeply upsetting especially as the book talks about it as if it’s as serious as other addictions, which has scared me. But it was also cathartic; I could finally understand why my relationships fail, why I stay in them when they’re hurting me so much and why I have been so ill for so long. Breaking a habit of a lifetime is going to be hard and I’m daunted by the task ahead. According to the book I’m an addict and I can certainly see how my behaviours are irrational and compulsive/obsessive. I’ve cleaned far too many bathtubs irrationally thinking it will save my relationship!
The questions I am yet to answer are filling my head: how do I stop myself forming another unhealthy relationship? How do I teach myself to be with someone without being needed? How do I learn to love myself enough to protect myself?
It has given me the courage to distance myself from ex-boyfriends and crushes. I am now noticing my behaviour although it is really hard to stop it. I have asked my mum to stop saying “you might meet a nice man!” and talking about marriage and babies every two minutes. I am not going to engage in a relationship for until I feel safer. I am going to spend some time being my own project. I cannot watch any films or TV about relationships without getting sad so will need some recommendations for stuff without romance in them… not even nature programmes are safe! The only thing I’m watching is a show called ‘Love’ on Netflix, this may sound dangerous but it’s actually about a woman who is trying to recover from this problem so it’s actually helpful. I’d recommend it, it’s really nice.
This has been a scary post to write and I’ve not delved very deep into my own personal experiences as they are still raw and I am processing them.
If you’ve recognised yourself in my description above, please don’t worry. There are organisations out there that help such as SLAAuk.org and the book, as mentioned above, is worth a read.
Genuinely looking for TV/film recommendations: no love, lots of explosions/spaceships/dinosaurs etc please!
Image: Broken heart (Shutterstock)