Caring too much will always be better than not caring enough. It stems from empathy and concern and love for the people in our lives that we hold closely, and they appreciate until it threatens some facet of their desires.
Recently, I overinvested in a close friend’s relationship, and it nearly damaged our friendship. The guy that she was seeing came on pretty strong, pretty quickly, and out of nowhere. I have always been slow to trust people, but I kept him at an ice-cold distance. My friend grew frustrated with me because she thought I was judging his every move, trying to find a flaw. She said I was tense around him, that my behavior was going to scare him away.
When you’ve been there for your friends, staying on the phone with them to calm them down, drying their heartbroken tears, looking out for them when they can’t see for themselves, you can’t bear to see them get hurt again. So you’re cautious; suspicious, even. Is he good enough? Does he even know if really likes her? How can he be so certain that he won’t break her heart like the last guy? Will he love and accept her the way I have? And so you wear your friend’s heart on your sleeve. You feel the doubts that she feels. When he doesn’t call her back or show up on time, you feel her disappointment. When she gets excited, you quietly step back; make sure she’s not prematurely falling for someone that will only leave her broken. What they can’t see is that you are the one who will be there to clean up the pieces. You have been there to clean up the pieces. If he messes with her heart, he also messes with yours, because empathy means that when her heart breaks, yours will too. When she’s crying on your couch at 2 am, you have to try not to break too; to stay strong and help her through, even when you can’t bear to see her hurting. Caring means her pain is your pain, too.
When I expressed my concerns, it came off as caring too much; as being too paranoid. I couldn’t put my finger on what rubbed me off wrong about him. It was just something about how hard he tried. How sure of himself he was. She thought I was afraid of him taking up all of her time. All I wanted was for him to treat her well. Caring is wanting the best for her and speaking up when you think she may be settling for less. Caring is also stepping back and letting people you love live their lives; letting them make mistakes and being there for them when they need help putting themselves back together. When they need to be reminded that they are loved.
Caring too much is your greatest strength. Its why people lean on you, why they depend on you, why they come to you. Caring too much is something that people will tell you to stop doing, for your sake, or for theirs. But your empathy is how you see the world differently, it’s how you see people differently, it’s how you protect people. Stay invested in the ones you love, love and care with your whole heart, even when you’re told it’s too much.