Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. So the old saying goes. And that holds true even for love. Maybe especially for love.
That’s not something we always want to hear, or get to hear. Our entertaining friends in Hollywood and the popular music industry seem to be saying that love conquers all, that if you just love someone enough, completely with all of your being, the rest of your life will take care of itself.
Warning Signs of Mega Love
But there are plenty of warnings out there about loving someone too much. An easy example is Narcissus – perhaps you remember him? He was a very good-looking person, and one day he saw his own reflection in a pond. He simply could not stop looking at it, because he loved it so much. In some versions of the story, he leaned closer and closer to the reflection, overbalanced, fell in the water and drowned. In other versions, he simply stayed there staring, neither eating nor drinking, until he died. Either way, the moral is the same.
There are plenty of other examples of loving too much – try Shakespeare’s “Othello,” for starters. Or “Romeo and Juliet.” I was once watching a movie version of “Romeo and Juliet” with a friend. When Juliet killed herself because Romeo was dead, my friend chuckled and said, “I wouldn’t kill myself for any man, even one I loved very much.”
Maybe that seems harsh to you, but it isn’t, really. Don’t take something like “Romeo and Juliet” as a manual for how to live modern life and love in the modern world. It’s meant to be entertainment and perhaps to teach us a thoughtful lesson. Remember the full title Shakespeare gave it: The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet.
It’s a tragedy.
Loving another person is a powerful, wonderful thing. Love and marriage are strong foundations of a good, happy, healthy life.
But loving someone too much can lead you to neglect other important things, like yourself, or your job, or the rest of your family, or your friends. It can also lead to obsession, jealousy, and a lot of misery.
It is tempting to throw ourselves utterly into love, to want to let go of everything else, all the banal and boring bits of life, to abandon everything but our passion. We want to think that once we found “the right person” that all our problems are over, that we will live, like the kids in the fairytales, “happily ever after.”
But a quick reality check will remind you that love doesn’t always last – look at the divorce rate in our modern society. And even when it does, it changes over time as we ourselves grow and evolve. So the love we feel at twenty years old will be different at forty and different again at sixty. These changes happen to everybody, in every relationship. Thinking that they won’t happen to you if you just keep loving your partner harder than anything else is like believing the sun will rise in the west tomorrow instead of the east. You’re going to be awfully unhappy in the morning.
It’s no fun facing it, but love also sometimes ends. Sometimes people’s lovers die, whether from an accident or from natural causes. And sometimes one person falls out of love with the other. If love is all you have at that point, you are in trouble. Your entire world can crumble to dust.
So the prudent course is to keep love in its proper perspective. Yes, love is one of the most important aspects of our lives. Yes, love feels fantastic, and romance and passion can sweep us away and that’s incredible. Truly, let yourself be swept away for a while. But keep brushing your teeth, keep eating three meals a day, keep working at your job, keep some ambition for that promotion or raise or for a new career.
Keep learning new things, keep visiting new places, meeting new people, reading new books. And do those things for yourself, not for your lover.
This is important. In order to be a good romantic partner, you need to love yourself and take care of yourself. If you’re constantly sacrificing yourself and martyring yourself for your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse, you won’t be able to take care of yourself. Your own health and happiness may suffer. You may start to seem pathetic to your lover, or they may feel smothered by you. Those problems can wreck your relationship, too.
Remember the safety message when you fly on a jet plane. In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from overhead. Put on your own mask before trying to help anyone else. Someone obsessed, like Romeo or Juliet, would do the opposite – ignore their own mask and struggle to put one on their beloved. Most likely, they’d pass out first and be of no help to anyone. That’s sort of what happened in the play – they loved each other too much and it didn’t end well.
Put On Your Own Mask First
Take care of yourself. Get some exercise, eat right, have interests and hobbies that you share with your partner and other interests and hobbies that are your own. Get a life, as the saying goes. Romeo and Juliet probably wouldn’t be very interesting friends, as they’d only be interested in each other and not you. Narcissus sure wouldn’t be a very good conversationalist.
Don’t do these things just because there’s a possibility your love might fade, or your relationship end.
Taking care of yourself makes you a more dynamic partner, an interesting and attractive person for your spouse or partner. If all you ever think about and talk about is the person you are in love with, you will be incredibly boring, to your partner and to anyone else who meets you.
Sometimes extreme examples can help teach a lesson, too. Perhaps you know or have heard of spouses who stay with someone who neglects or abuses them, whether emotionally, intellectually or physically. Husbands and wives stay with spouses who are addicts and shoot up drugs in front of the children, or who gamble away every penny the family owns.
Loving someone who is cruel or distant, loving them “too much” eventually becomes an unhealthy thing. Some people love someone so much, or think they do, that they even stick around when their lives are threatened. That isn’t really “love” anymore – it has mutated into some kind of dangerous, unhealthy obsession.
Love is grand and wonderful, a real blessing in our lives. We should welcome it, embrace it and enjoy it.
But we should not let it grow out of control, because then it becomes something else altogether.