Can you love someone too much?

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Illustration photo by Getty Images
Illustration photo by Getty Images
  • We know vampires like Twilight's Edward Cullen don't actually exist (or do they?), but love sure can suck the life out of you if you're not careful.
  • Spoiler alert: When Bella gives up her human self in the final Twilight instalment - Breaking Dawn - in order to live eternally with Edward and have his vampire baby (which almost eats her alive!), rationalists everywhere will wonder, "Can love sometimes be all too consuming?".
  • Feel like Bella? Here's how to deal.

The "he needs me, so I can't leave him” love

"My approach to relationships is completely unbalanced," says Cathy, 25. "I'll go on dates with guys I'm not interested in because I think I can help their confidence or self-esteem, and then sort of release them back into the wild as you would an injured bird that's been nursed back to health.

"It has caused me to build up resentment towards men who pursue me. I'm too nice and give the wrong impression, then feel bitter when I miss an opportunity with a suitable partner because I'm stuck with someone I'm trying to help."

READ MORE | 5 things to keep in mind when searching for love and a solid relationship

Whether he's had a troubled childhood, drug and alcohol problems, or is mentally unstable, you always seem to go for the underdog, with your empathy swelling like violins in a schmaltzy movie. Be wary of creating problems for him where none exist, and ask yourself: Is this really about him, or me? If you grew up in an unstable home environment yourself, you may be particularly at risk here.

"The more sensitive and empathetic you were as a child, the more you may have been troubled by erratic parental behaviour," says Melbourne-based clinical psychologist Matthew Berry. "This pattern can then be enacted as an adult, by trying to control or fix the irrational conduct of others. But, of course, addiction, like a range of other problems, cannot be 'fixed by another person."

READ MORE | Finding love on the internet is easy, but can you solve your relationship problems online?

The "but i really love him" love

You'll make every excuse there is for this guy- in fact, you've been known to bend the truth on more than a few occasions. He's so high up on a pedestal, you're blinded by what forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes refers to - in her book The Devil You Know: Looking Out For The Psycho In Your Life - as "the halo effect", i.e. you attribute glowing traits to him. Work and hobbies start slipping, as all your mental energy is wasted on figuring him out and keeping him interested. This isn't love - it's self-flagellation and infatuation.

"When I really like a guy, I spend more time thinking about how I can come across as ideal for him," says Cathy, who feels she has two kinds of relationships: one where she's out to help someone, and one where she falls madly into unrequited love. "I set about tailoring myself somehow, and that's exhausting and fruitless, because you can't be someone you're not. I lose sight of who I am and then end up being overly nervous and unnatural, which is not a good cocktail for love!"

Tiger, 28, has had similar experiences. "Throughout my early twenties, there was this guy who I was way too in love with. He'd always reel me in before backing off," she says. "He kept me on a leash and wasted my time, driving me more and more insane with every pass. I went from being a confident woman to a nervous wreck. He was never man enough or kind enough to not play his games, and he knew I wasn't strong enough to end it. But, one day, I decided I was over it, and a few months later, met the person I ended up marrying."

READ MORE | UK man who wants to be 'saved' from an arranged marriage is on a billboard, looking for a wife

The "we don't need friends anymore" love

The two of you are so wrapped up in each other, you suddenly realise it's been months, not weeks, since you've seen your closest girlfriends. Or, on the flipside, you just can't see why he'd need to hang out with his mates.

"Don't neglect your other needs." caution Berry. "It's something easy to do for people whose other social requirements are more challenging to meet, however, it's not a good idea and often doesn't result in healthy outcomes."

Put aside one day a week, or every fortnight, to hang out with the girls. Keeping them in your circle will bring more balance and fulfilment to your life, not to mention plenty of juicy goss!

READ MORE | Is it normal to check what's on your partner's phone or are you insecure?

The "healthy, well adjusted" love

Want the kind of love that's a bit more wholesome and good for you than a near-fatal birthing of a vampire? Here's a mental checklist of things to keep in mind. Don't let your social life slip away. It's important to always keep dates with your friends - you can't let your other relationships slide.

Also, don't trust your feelings when you're sad or angry - wait until you're in a positive mood before making any major love decisions. Ultimately, don't be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions: Am I infatuated by this guy because I'm seeking a distraction in life? Does this person really have my best interests at heart? What would I advise my best friend if she were in my shoes? You never know, by doing this, you may even teach Edward and Bella a thing or two.

Do you love someone too much?  Let us know here.

Credit: Magazine Features

Follow us on social media: FacebookTwitterInstagram

Sign up to W24's newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our stories and giveaways.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.