Do You Try Too Hard?

Trying too hard can be the kiss of death for relationships.

Posted Oct 09, 2015 | Reviewed by Abigail Fagan

Please don’t—try too hard, that is. When you try too hard, it shows and unfortunately it seems desperate. Trying too hard usually stems from a childhood where your efforts were either not rewarded or were not regarded as ever good enough, where you perceived yourself to be undervalued or unappreciated.

Humans can work like a wolf pack in groups, but if they get a whiff of desperation, they will either ostracise the perpetrator or target them unkindly. If you are someone who finds it hard to make friends easily or feels that you are on the outside of a group, one piece of advice would be to not try too hard.

How do you do that? Exhibit friendliness and willingness to join in but try not to mind too much early on whether you are included in group activities or not. If you hear about a group activity or it is mentioned to you say something like, “That sounds like you had fun” rather than, “I would have liked to do that.” The latter comment can be perceived as you looking for an invitation, whereas the former comment is merely an observation. Rather unfairly, the less desperate you are about being included the more likely a group or potential friend is to invite you to do something with them.

The same can apply to personal relationships. Try not to look too hard for an exclusive relationship with someone, even a potential partner. Most well-balanced humans will have other interests and other friends as well as family. This is not a threat to your relationship but a sign of a well-rounded and popular person – somebody good to go out with or be friends with. Needing things in a relationship is a normal human response, but however needy you feel, try to remember that you also need a variety of relationships and that one person, however much you like them, cannot supply all your needs, nor should they be expected to. If you are very needy and have not addressed childhood issues of being unloved or unappreciated, then it is unlikely that anyone will be able to address all your needs. You need to do this for yourself.

As adults, we need to be able to minister to ourselves. To self-soothe and self-support are tools that we require before we can be in a relationship. Of course it is lovely to have someone who empathises with us, supports us, and soothes us, but if we cannot do it for ourselves we can become overly needy and desperate, which is when relationships (of any sort) start to go awry. So if you feel you want something from somebody rather desperately, try to pull back and go gently, as this will be far more attractive and be much more likely to yield positive results. If this is a really hard “ask,” then you should probably get some help in learning how to minister to your needs and how to nurture yourself. You may want to consider counselling.

Once you have learnt these skills, all relationships will become much easier, particularly the one you have with yourself. And once you have a good relationship with yourself, you will find that you become much more attractive to others and that relationships become much easier and more pleasurable for everyone involved.