Women who love too much


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Category: Women Date: 25 Nov 01

“Buy two get a third free or six pounds 99 each” screamed a yellow sunshine sticker on a paperback on the book titled “WOMEN WHO LOVE TOO MUCH” by Robin Norwood. Now who would want to buy this in bulk, I wondered, turning it over. I read: “If being in love means being in pain, this book was written for you.”


I read on:


“Many women find themselves repeatedly drawn into unhappy and destructive relationships with men. They then struggle to make these doomed relationships work. This best-selling book takes a hard look at how powerfully addictive these unhealthy relationships are – but also gives a very specific programme for recovery from the disease of loving too much.”


That’s me and most of my woman friends, and possibly most women in the world, I thought, taking three.


They may be still single, happily or unhappily married, divorced, on their second marriages, separated, career women or housewives, but they all thrive on the pain of loving too much which really means placing a low value on themselves and allowing a man to treat them like dirt.


I must have had countless conversations consoling women who weep into their pillows because a man hasn’t called when he said he would, broken a date off without reason, abruptly ended the relationship, is cold, or distant, is indifferent, goes off with another woman without warning, blows hot and cold is irritated with attention, and at the lack of it.


Instead turning them off, terrible treatment stokes the fires of love and passion in women.


Women talking about men in an effort to understand them is as futile as trying to empty the ocean with a bucket but we do it anyway and bore one another endlessly in the process, but put up with it because we realize it is essential to our collective sanity.


Essentially, therapist Robin Norwood’s theory is that “loving too much” (in other words being addicted to relationships that make women feel terrible about themselves) is a disease.


Norwood demonstrates through compelling case studies that women who love too much repeat unhappy patterns of our childhoods in our relationships.


For instance, women who had been forced to take up a great deal of the homes responsibility as children because their parents were either absent or fighting will choose men who are irresponsible and inept so that they will be able to control them.


Women who are emotionally or sexually abused as children will go for impotent or abusive partners.


Women whose fathers withheld approval and love will choose a cold man who is incapable of love and live a life of pain of loving too much by longing for the impossible.


One mind-boggling revelation was that contrary to popular opinion, many women are terrified of intimacy and run when faced with it. This is because they grew up in homes where raw emotion such as anger, pain, love, hate, were shoved under the carpet so the family appeared ‘perfect’.


These women, says Norwood set themselves up with men who are as emotionally undeveloped as themselves and as a result end up in loveless relationships. When they do meet someone who is capable of intimacy, they run. Norwood tells us of ‘Helen’ who gave every appearance of being a woman who loved too much while carrying on a relationship with a married man.  “She genuinely suffered, pined, wept, and wailed for the man she loved but could not truly have.” That is, until he left his wife and married her instead when she lost interest and discarded him. Why? Norwood tells us: “Helen needed the excitement, tension and emotional pain of loving an unavailable man in order to relate at all. She had no capacity for intimacy.”


Essentially, author/therapist Robin Norwood is saying that women can get addicted to pain, like alcoholics are to alcohol, and continue destructive cycles that bring them pain all their lives.


 Norwood claims that women who spend a lifetime weeping over some man or another are avoiding living their own lives, wasting their own talent, blaming other people for their unhappiness.


The best part of this book is her ten point plan for recovery for women addicted to the pain of loving too much.

In summary:


  1. Talk to friends you trust and are supportive.

  2. Stop managing and controlling others, and take charge of your own life.

  3. Learn not to get hooked into destructive games with men.

  4. Courageously face your own problems and shortcomings.

  5. Cultivate your talents, and develop your potential to its maximum.

  6. Become ‘Selfish”. (This includes SHOPPING ladies, and taking care of yourselves, your bodies, working out, having that manicure or facial, taking a night off from cooking, doing that degree, leaving the children with the husband so you can try out a killer cocktail with your friends, believing that you’re worth it and deserve it)


Norwood doesn’t guarantee an absence of pain. Who can?  But she does show how women, instead of playing the bit part of some mans life, can take center stage in the theatre of their own lives. My own theory is, if you treat yourself like a princess, everyone else, including men, will too.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur