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What Are the Effects of Too Much Attention?

By Lily Ruha
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments

By Oceana — On Feb 13, 2013

If you show a child too much attention, you can easily spoil her. My aunt was always praising my cousin for every little thing and buying her dozens of gifts at Christmas and on her birthday, and she became a bit of a narcissist because of this.

She constantly needed approval from everyone. She was always showing off, and even though it was a plea for attention, it came off as bragging.

By seag47 — On Feb 12, 2013

I get really anxious when it comes to social situations. If I have to speak in front of people or work closely with others, I will stress about it for days before it happens!

I go over every possible scenario in my head. I feel like this will prepare me for anything, though I know that the unexpected can always happen.

I wind up giving myself nausea and diarrhea because of my obsessive attention to these situations before they happen. It's a very uncomfortable way to live, though I do enjoy the extreme relief once the situation is over! My nausea and diarrhea go away, and I can eat normally again.

By shell4life — On Feb 12, 2013

@DylanB – I know how you feel. I pay too much attention to my son, and I know that part of this is because I lost a daughter three years ago.

Things that happen in our lives are often beyond our control, but tragedies can turn us into control freaks. We start to think that if only we had paid more attention, the bad thing might not have happened.

By DylanB — On Feb 11, 2013

I know that I pay way too much attention to my pets. One of my dogs got hit by a car while I was asleep just over a year ago, and ever since, I have been overprotective of them.

This has affected my sleep. I keep the dogs in the house while I'm at home, but sometimes at night, I have to let them out to do their business. They often run off into the pasture or the forest, and I have to stay up until they return.

I've tried going back to sleep while the dogs are out, but I just can't do it. I'm too worried about them. My friends think I'm crazy, because we live out in the country, and everyone lets their dogs run loose around here, but I know what can happen out there, and I don't like it.

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