The effects of too much attention, whether on relationships or life problems, are generally negative and counterproductive. Although healthy relationships require a certain degree of attention, one partner's excessive focus on the other may create emotional imbalances in the relationship. Similarly, children who receive too much praise or too many gifts may develop personality issues. Attention is also a factor in mental illnesses like depression, neurosis, and anxiety, with an extreme focus on uncontrollable or inconsequential matters. Stalking and harassment are extreme behaviors characterized by too much attention given to people who do not want it.
In a healthy relationship, attentiveness is characterized by a set of moderate behaviors. Each partner listens to the other, showing interest in the thoughts, feelings, and passions of the other. It is a mutual relationship in which respect, love, and attention are shared in healthy amounts. Too much attention in a relationship of equals is characterized by extreme gift giving, excessive communication, and intense affection. A partner who is unable or unwilling to reciprocate may feel manipulated, smothered, or repulsed enough to exit the relationship altogether.
Giving too much attention to people who do not want it may be considered stalking or sexual harassment. Celebrities may become victims of this type of behavior when fans violate their privacy by following them around, camping outside their homes, or entering their living space without permission. In general, inappropriate remarks about someone's physical appearance, unwanted affection, and sexual innuendo all may fall into the category of harassment.
Parents and teachers also are faced with determining how much attention is too much. Constantly praising a child, letting him know how smart he is, and tending to his every wish may prevent him from developing necessary life skills. Praise is best when limited to displays of courage or successful completion of challenging tasks. Constant gift giving is problematic for children because it does not teach them to work and wait for what they want. While it's important to meet children's needs, too much attention to their wants may perpetuate the constant demand for more.
Many mental illnesses also involve the problem of excessive attention. A depressed person may constantly focus on past disappointments. Individuals with intense anxiety may worriedly and repeatedly review the details of an upcoming event or encounter. People with neurosis, a condition characterized by repetitive thoughts and actions, may give too much attention to insignificant matters or tasks they have already completed. The effects of excessive attention in these conditions are personal discomfort and dissatisfaction.