Women Who Love Too Much
a book by Robin Norwood
(our site's book review)
Women Who Love Too Much is a great self-help book, especially for women, but men can profit by its wisdom as well. It helps people find a path out of foolish love and shines the light on how to find healthy love. This is a great book for the majority of people in our culture who are experiencing the disappointment and pain of neurotic love and who wish for so much more but don’t know where to turn to find it.
The book helps people find a path out of foolish love and shines the light on how to find healthy love
It boils down to something simple: if you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. If you aren't taking good care of yourself and filling your needs for self-expression and self-actualization, but instead are simply pointing your focus at a mate who will somehow fill all your needs, fill your emptiness, and make you happy, the problem is your approach. Turn the focus back on yourself and do what it takes to fill more of your self needs and become less empty. Why should others like your emptiness any more than you do? If you find mates, they will simply—mostly unknowingly—exploit your neediness. This will go nowhere good. Fill your cup first so you have something to give. Then find only mates who actually nurture, rather than exploit, push your buttons, and feed your obsessions.
The problem with mate finding is simpler than it seems. Most people do not have secure, need-filling childhoods that help them to mature into autonomous beings with lots of love to give. So they do their mate search from a position of neediness. They see from a deficiency-cognition perspective, not a being-cognition perspective, so they allow their needs to filter their experience so they see what they need to see—not what is there. See Toward a Psychology of Being. Then see WHY Register for MC Search and Match?.
Registering for MC search and match
A few people will run into a great therapist that will help them drop their deficiency-cognition perspective, replacing it with a being-cognition perspective. A few people will run into a bunch of really together, compassionate wise people that can help them transcend their deficiency-cognition perspective so they can emotionally function like adults rather than needy children. But most people, sadly, will never encounter anything of a kind. Their deficiency-cognition perspective will rule their lives. They end up marrying Mr. or Ms. Right and it works out poorly as each tries to get the other to fill all their needs. So then comes affairs and/or divorce. See also Flat gradient Nurturance versus Steep gradient Nurturance
Another romantic couple
As the author so astutely points out, the transition from unhealthy love to healthy love is a difficult one, since the unhealthy love and especially the obsessive character of it feels so right. This is because if our parents related to us in unhealthy ways—like manipulation, cruelty, or being overbearing, then this programs us to seek out people of the opposite sex who will do the same thing. This will not end well, and no matter how it keeps us feeling sane because it feels like we’re with the “right” mate, it will always be unsatisfying and feel wrong when we compare it to how we want to be treated and how we know in our hearts we should be treated.
Loving obsessively is about avoiding the pain of feeling empty, unlovable, and unworthy, it is NOT about experiencing great love, passionate romance, and keeping your mate “happy.” You get addicted to the way the other becomes a drug that helps you avoid yourself and the pain you feel. This is not healthy at all!
If you find yourself trying to fix others and are drawn only to others that treat you inappropriately and you keep trying to make them change, you're really only behaving like a child trying to get your parents to love you better—some therapists have called this “the struggle.” But since the true target is your parent(s), the quest is futile. Use this book to see what a healthy relationship looks like and feels like, so that you may—after getting your act together about starting to take good care of yourself—aim for this relationship type rather than the neurotic ones you’ve pursued in the past.
If the sex is good but that’s about all, and you feel depressed about it, it’s because you're sexualizing your needs. When you need real emotional closeness and intimacy and real relationship and connection but instead keep settling for sex, it will not end well, since real self needs are being ignored. Forget sex and the “romance” that goes with it and find out if you can actually become emotionally close to a healthy mate. If you don’t know how, use this book. It does you no good to try to pretend that intimacy is about sex if you do not truly feel emotionally close to the other person in healthy, satisfying, nurturing ways. And the word nurturing is the key. Seek relationships that REALLY nurture, not ones that fit with your neurotic illusions about such things. It you’re obsessed with illusions about someone and about what you wish s/he was and what you know s/he could be, but unfulfilled in the relationship, no one is being nurtured. Drop relationships of this type and use this book as a guide to find fulfilling relationships.
Lastly, if you look for another person to be your answer—to fill you up and stop your emptiness feeling, stop. Just stop. NO ONE will ever be “your answer” in life except YOU. Get to know yourself. Perhaps, once you start nurturing yourself, you'll find yourself to be a better life answer than you thought.
See also: The Adjusted American—the book that exposed all this neurosis in normal people long before others figured it out. And see Revolution From Within—the best feminist book in all of history and a great book for healing and self-esteem work. And see On the Wings of Self-Esteem—a great self-transformation book. There are lots more such great books on our website—check 'em out!