I'm separated and starting anew. This ultimately means opportunities to meet new friends. This post comes as a result of a long standing tendency to share too much, too soon, not because showing warmth is wrong, but because I never understand the dynamics of over-caring and how it can undermine the path toward true intimacy.
When I finally began to see the warp and woof pattern whereby friendships seemed to be taken for granted, then I had to stop and reconsider what was going wrong. Here’s an encapsulation I’ve noted down from the sages.
“Especially after a long dry spell or a bout of self-imposed celibacy after a break-up, beware of portraying the over-doting, smitten puppy.”
--Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro
Although a new e-friendship can die an abrupt death for lack of spice or not enough show of affection, the number one reason that nips enthusiasm in the bud is giving too much, too soon. According to one life coach, “Giving too much too soon is by far the biggest relationship mistake made by both men and women… The worst part about giving too much is that the other person probably won't just drop you. At least then you'd be free to start over. Instead, they will keep you on a string and not take you seriously, and you find yourself in 'crazy love' relationship.”So, what symptoms should you and I look out for? Well, for starters is our sense of contentment consumed in making the other person happy? Do we over-identify, pouring our self into his or her problems to the point of ignoring our own? Is he or she pulling away while we keep looking desperately for more ways to engage or connect? Are we so wrapped up with the euphoria of this new relationship that we’ve forgotten our friends and family? Have we confused the sensations of uncertainty for love? Are we lacking motivation to pursue interests on our own?Watching our pace is crucial from the START. We need to slow things down or maintain a slow pace enough for both persons to consider the compatibility factor. This means communicating at an easy pace as friends. Tracy Cabot says a relationship that starts on too high of a romantic pitch has nowhere to go but down: “If you give too much of your time too soon, the other person takes you for granted.”She also says you'll know whether you've given too much too soon because you'll feel cheated. Listen closely to her following advice: “The best way to give is intermittently. Give just enough of yourself to let the other person see how wonderful you can be, then back off a little to see if the other person is responding, then give a little more.”
By maintaining an easy pace you convey an essential message that basically tells the potential partner that you have a life of your own. If you have a hard time thinking of at least three interests in your life that inspire passion (that is not tied into your new friend) then it may be time to begin cultivating your own garden. Please feel free to add whatever wisdom you’ve gained on this topic along the way.
This "over-caring dynamic", by the way can also be applied to other areas of life. I know that as a youth pastor I fell into an over-caring/over-giving pattern which set me up for many needless disappointments as well as deeply feeling taken for granted.
-- TR © 2008