It's natural for couples in a new relationship to want to invest their time and energy to secure each other's love, as you and your partner both want to feel secure, treasured, and on the same page when kicking things off.
But sometimes investing too much can have the opposite effect. Knowing where to draw the line and how to temper your connection so that it doesn't become extreme may not only keep you in check, it can be the key to preventing from your relationship from crashing and burning.
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When entering a new relationship, there's a lot of pressure to do every little thing correctly right away. We want to set the right parameters and expectations, we want to establish our boundaries, and ensure that open communication is of top priority.
Of course, the excitement of a new relationship often derails many of those good, foundational intentions, and things can escalate pretty quickly in the rush of it all. We can focus too heavily on the wrong things that seem so good at first but can turn on us quickly.
There's a reason they call that the honeymoon phase, after all. We throw on those rose-colored glasses that help us ignore possible warning signs and forge on ahead.
That's exactly why some exemplary relationship traits can grow into something dangerous without us even realizing it, a fact that a University of Houston study proved.
Namely, they cited commitment as a trait to watch out for, as it turns out overcommitting to a relationship can lead to some serious self-sabotaging.
How Can That Be?
Let's get one thing clear, this study isn't advising you to not commit to your partners. They aren't promoting any sort of lying or cheating, nor are they saying commitment is inherently bad, just that it can easily turn down a dark path if it becomes overbearing, harming both the person who's overcommitting and their relationship as a whole.
The study had 198 people fill out a diary of sorts in which they recorded the ups and downs of their relationship over the span of two weeks, as well as their reactions to those fluctuations.
The connections between the entries, relationship states, and user reactions were then analyzed and recorded for further study.
Before we dive into the findings, we have to cover a term used often in the resulting paper: relationship-contingent self-esteem, or RCSE.
RCSE is what can develop in someone who hinges their self-worth on the current status of their relationship. If they and their partner had a fight, their self-esteem will be dangerously low. If they had a nice day out together, they'll feel on top of the world.
Worse Than They Thought
This study greatly reinforced not only the concept of RCSE, but the severity at which it can occur.
As first author and Professor Raymond Knee explained in the paper, "What we found with this particular study was that people with higher levels of RCSE felt worse about themselves during negative moments in their relationships.
It's as if it doesn’t matter why the negative occurrence happens or who was at fault. The partners with stronger RCSE still feel badly about themselves."
Far Too Connected
"When something happens in a relationship, these individuals don't separate themselves from it," he explained. "They immediately feel personally connected to any negative circumstance in a relationship and become anxious, more depressed and hostile."
This type of mindset is exactly why over-committing to a relationship can send it down the path of ruin. In the honeymoon phase, when things are light and good, people will put their all into their relationship. After committing so hard already, they won't want to withdraw any of that intensity, so they'll remain heavily tied to the ebbs and flows that every couple has.
Out From Under Them
"Individuals with high levels of RCSE are very committed to their relationships, but they also find themselves at risk to become devastated when something goes wrong — even a relatively minor event. An overwhelming amount of the wrong kind of commitment can actually undermine a relationship."
It wouldn't be unheard of for a partner to see such intense personal reactions to minor conflicts and be frightened off, or to see that continuing to date would only worsen the other half's self-esteem and emotional regulation and not want things to continue that way.
Too much of a good thing can absolutely happen, and it's often so subtle we don't notice it until it's pointed out to us. We want to relish in the good things but, in the process, overextend and overexert ourselves to the point of stress.
Like many potential, complex relationship struggles, the first step to avoiding this type of behavior is to be self-aware of it. When entering a new relationship, never lose sight of who you were before them and the happiness you felt then. No person on earth is worth destroying your self-esteem just to keep around.
In any relationship, always take stock of your feelings and ask yourself: does this person make you love yourself more? Do you want to grow old with them?
Love is more than just kisses and butterflies, it's much more than that. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you love and what you need out of a partner, check out this personalized report based on date of birth.