What's the difference between trying too hard and doing real relationship work?
While it’s true to an extent that we should all be making an effort in our relationship, there is a point where trying harder is actually detrimental.
So what’s the difference between doing the right kind of relationship work and trying too hard?
The way it feels.
Here are 10 signs that you're forcing it:
1. You Rationalize Your Partner's Bad Behavior
While coming to your partner's defense can be a good instinct, unfortunately you find yourself making excuses for their downright bad behavior — and it's a pattern.
That's not really what he/she meant. He/She really means well. He's/She's just damaged/conflicted/busy/commitment-phobic.
If that sounds like you, it's more likely that you're dealing with someone who isn't treating your relationship with respect.
2. You Analyze Every Move Your Partner Makes
Yesterday he/she called at 2PM, and that seems to be a pattern, but today he/she didn't. So does that mean [insert assumption here]? Is he/she dating someone else? WHY?
Chill out. Letting your thoughts run wild to the negative side just causes premature balding and too much cortisol. If the other person truly has lost interest in you, you'll know that in time, but letting your insecurities spew all over a budding romance will hasten their departure.
3. You Try To Buy Your Partner's Affection — Consciously Or Not
This includes giving him/her regular gift showers and loaning money. When you're trying to win someone's affections, you'll get much further by legitimately earning his/her respect, rather than giving gifts. Sometimes we don't set out to do this, but with the right sob story or under the pressure of wanting him/her to like us, we do it anyway.
4. You Complain About The Amount Of Time, Attention And Resources Your Partner Gives You
It's one thing if you're dealing with someone who is genuinely busy, it's a whole other thing if you're trying to have a relationship with someone who has demonstrated that he/she doesn’t value the opportunity to spend time with you. Whining about spending time together will just make your partner want to avoid you. It's the classic "hungry dog doesn’t get fed" problem.
5. You Over-Analyze Your Own Normal Behavior And Dwell On The Outcome
While a certain amount of uncertainty in a relationship (particularly a new one) is normal, there is a point where worrying how you come off flips you into super insecurity mode. By all means, learn better relationship skills and use them often, but try not to dwell on mundane details. Wanting to be liked too much can make you, well… unlikable.
6. You Feel Powerless And Needy
Trying too hard and not valuing yourself go hand in hand. There is a painful, needy, dependent feeling that comes from begging for someone’s attention. And that unhinged feeling is a sign that the power balance between the two of you is dangerously off balance.
7. You're Ready To Drop Anything To Spend Time With Your Partner
In a healthy, balanced relationship, both people have outside interests and this is GOOD. Also, the other person doesn't act like a limited-time engagement. Don't be afraid he/she will disappear if you don’t "act now." If that is truly the case, wouldn't you rather not be a part of that anyway? So think twice the next time you want to automatically turn "me time" into "we time."
8. You're Fully In I-Would-Do-Anything-For-Love Mode
You don't feel like you're at the top of their list yet, but you're willing to do whatever it takes. You're sure that if you just worked harder, it would all be perfect between you two.
You're cool with their foibles, addictions, bizarre behavior, the way he/she treats you. You're ready to make this work, baby. Because "he/she's worth it"… or something.
9. When Your Partner Pulls Away, You Lose It
This sort of off-balance behavior, analysis and pining turns any uncertainty from him/her into a mourning-worthy event.
10. You Think More About Securing A Commitment
"Locking it down" should not take priority over genuinely enjoying someone's company. True commitment from someone else doesn't happen because you're trying to make it happen. It happens because both people are having such an awesome time together that doing anything else seems absurd. Wanting to eventually have your life look a certain way (like marriage or a deeper commitment if you want that) is completely reasonable. But trying to convince anyone to give it to you is off base.
So What Should You Make Of All This?
Remember that making an effort in a relationship should be reserved for when it's worth it.
But What Does 'Worth It' Look Like?
Think of your time and attention as a gift. If someone doesn't appreciate that gift, then you can choose to move on and give it to someone else, but you can’t wrench love out of him/her by giving more. Acting desperate and like you have to go to Herculean measures to get their attention will only diminish their respect for you over time. A relationship with someone else has to be both people trying, not you trying to muscle something into place.
If you're doing these things, consider why. Find that needy beast within and see what it really wants. What might sound like, "I want someone to love" can actually mean that you need to do some work on yourself first. Sometimes this work looks like valuing yourself above your relationship. Other times it means looking for the right person to bestow your gifts upon.
If the beast inside your head tells you that your efforts aren't good enough or you worry that they won't like you if you stop going to extreme measures, repeat after me:
Let It Flow
Instead of trying to force things, be present in the current moment. When you start to obsess (I do it too!), bring yourself back to the now. In the now, everything is always okay. Try your best to expect good things from other people. But be prepared to move on if your partner just doesn't do actions that show they appreciate your gift.
If you're suffering from a lot of crash and burn when it comes to your relationships, get it sorted out with a free copy of my book, Why Men Lose Interest and daily email series. It'll help you iron out the kinks and have that great relationship you've always wanted.
This article was originally published at Digital Romance Inc. Reprinted with permission from the author.