Has anyone ever told you that you’re “too much?”
Maybe a romantic partner or friend has asked you to tone things down because you were too intense for them.
Alternatively, you may have had employers or colleagues inform you that you were being a bit “too much” in a particular circumstance.
What does that mean, exactly?
And how can you approach this type of feedback?
First and foremost: too much for whom?
Individuals have different tolerance thresholds for just about everything. This can range from food tolerances like spices or strange textures, to sound, light, temperature, and socialization.
An extravert who thrives at loud, crowded concerts isn’t going to be put off by a high-energy friend or partner who gets loud and boisterous when they’re happy and excited.
In contrast, an introvert who’s highly sensitive to sound stimulation and gets nervous at sudden movement might be overwhelmed by that same person.
So does that make the excitable friend “too much”? Or are they simply “too much for some people, but just right for others?”
Ultimately, the answer to this question can be summed up in two statements:
- Yes, you will be “too much” for some people.
- You aren’t “too much” of anything if you’re happy with who you are.
We all get along with folks in different ways, and we’re not always compatible with people. Sometimes we click with others and get along as if we’ve been friends forever, and other times we’ll grate on each other’s nerves simply by existing.
And herein lies the truth: Each of us may be too much for some, but not enough for other people.
Just like medicine, the difference between a cure and a poison is dosage, and that dosage will differ between individuals. If a 6’5,” 280lb man and a 5’, 90lb woman take the same amount of pain-killing medication, it might be too much for her system to handle and do absolutely nothing for him.
The same goes for energy, personality, and so on.
The key is to understand why some people are labeling you as such. This will require some self-analysis. You will also need to dig into their motivations and personal leanings.
What to do about being “too much.”
When it comes to figuring out what to do in these scenarios, it’s important to take stock of the entire situation.
1. Determine who is saying you’re “too much,” and why.
A lot of things are contextual. Some people try to control others’ speech and behavior as a form of dominance, while others do so in an attempt to make themselves more comfortable. Or both.
If someone tells you that you’re being too much for them, consider the context of where this is coming from.
For example, a colleague at work who’s envious of your position might try to cut you down so they can get ahead.
Alternatively, a partner who’s jealous of the attention you’re drawing from others may want you to tone things down so potential rivals won’t be as interested.
Or perhaps they’re controlling and emotionally abusive and invalidate your emotions by telling you that you’re being dramatic and hysterical when you’re hurt or upset.
Sometimes parents insist that their kids repress their emotions and don’t allow them to express their anger or sadness. Any emotional expression is called an “outburst,” and the one who’s trying to be heard is sent to their room to cool off. They are only allowed out once they can behave in a manner that everyone else finds more acceptable.
At other times, social groups try to mold people to fit their preferences rather than accommodating them. They might imply that you’re a bit “extra,” and they may make suggestions about how you could change your appearance under the guise of “just trying to help.”
Keep in mind that there is also a time and a place for everything. Someone who tells you that you’re being a bit “too much” may not be criticizing you or your behavior. Rather, they may not know how to tell you diplomatically that you need to stop oversharing.
It’s possible that nobody wanted to hear quite that much detail about your sex life or medical procedures while having lunch, but they don’t know how to say that without causing offense.
Additionally, it’s important to determine whether the person for whom you’re “too much” is neurodivergent. Many people on the autism spectrum can get overwhelmed by others’ energy.
As such, they may have difficulty understanding what’s being said to them or have a heightened fight-or-flight response if someone is being too loud, physically boisterous, emotional, or too random for them.
One of my closest female friends has Asperger’s and a male friend of mine has intense ADHD. I know I can never hang out with both of them at the same time, because the former will have a meltdown after a few minutes of the latter bouncing around and switching topics constantly as his vocal volume steadily increases.
The key thing to remember here is that he isn’t “too much” as an individual, any more than she is “not enough.” They’re merely different and not necessarily compatible in a social setting.
2. Be aware of what’s going on around you.
A lot of people are very self-involved. As a result, they often say or do things without thinking about the circumstances they’re in or what others around them may be thinking or feeling.
It’s unlikely that you are purposely being needy and overstepping other people’s boundaries, but your behavior may be hurtful regardless. This is why it’s so important to be self-aware—so you can recognize potentially damaging actions.
If you’re an anxious person who needs a lot of reassurance, or you like to talk to your loved ones regularly to keep yourself grounded, you may not be as aware of what’s going on in their lives as you could be.
As such, you might call them or “just drop by” and expect them to make time for you. You may be so caught up in the big feelings you’re being overwhelmed with that you don’t ask them how they’re doing, if it’s a good time to talk, and so on.
All that matters to you at that moment is getting your needs met—whatever you’re dealing with is huge to you, and you need them.
Meanwhile, your friend or family member might be dealing with something intense of their own. Maybe they haven’t slept in days because they have a sick child, or they’re mourning the loss of someone they care about.
They might have intense work stress (or even job loss), be dealing with family troubles, be mourning a pregnancy loss, or any other number of issues that have depleted them into shadows of their former selves.
Your high-energy, high-need interaction with them might end up with them telling you that you’re just too much, followed by them taking distance from you for the sake of salvaging what’s left of their sanity.
If they don’t tell you why they’re pulling away, all you’ll be left with is the idea that you’re “too much,” without any reason or explanation.
That isn’t fair to you. It’s also unfair to use them as an on-demand emotional dumping ground.
This is why it’s so important to ask people how they feel and what they mean when and if they say you’re too much. By doing so, you can address the issue at hand and save your friendships.
If they tell you that they’re in no position to be your rock any time soon, consider finding a good therapist you feel comfortable with.
A therapist will be able to be your pillar of strength as well as your advisor, leaving you free to meet your friends on equal ground instead of depending on them to keep you going.
3. Find a middle ground.
If someone implies that you’re “too much,” but you still need to interact with them on a regular basis, then you may need to find middle ground.
One of the best things to do in this case is to take a deep breath, go for a walk, grab a coffee or a smoothie, and then ask if you can speak candidly about what it is about you that they find overwhelming.
This is where you can determine whether what’s going on is about you, them, or where you are in the moment.
For example, if it’s your partner saying that you’re “too much,” ask them to explain what it is about you that they’re having difficulty with. It may turn out that they simply felt that way in the moment or at a certain time of the day.
If you’re a high-energy morning person who can go for a run as soon as you’re out of bed and are excited to tell them all about your dreams, but they’ll be groggy until noon and can’t form a sentence without four double espressos, then your energy may simply be too much for them to handle until later in the day.
This could also express itself in the workplace. Bubbly PR and marketing people are great when they’re working at events, but they can often dominate board meetings and general office interactions instead of listening quietly while others are speaking.
If you have a lot of energy that’s put to great use in certain circumstances, learn to harness it and let it free when those circumstances arise.
Alternatively, if you can’t find middle ground—either in your social circle or your workplace—consider changing things up and finding a friend group and work environment that are a better match for your nature.
4. Find your tribe.
You should never, ever, have to lessen yourself in order to fit into a constrictive box to suit other people’s wants and expectations. This goes for friends, romantic partners, and even workplaces.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an intense personality. The key is to help it thrive in circumstances that are best suited to it.
Many people who label others as being “too much” are very comfortable in their complacency. They’re often uncomfortable with anything that’s outside their preferred comfort zone, and they may even feel threatened by things that—to them—are weird or make them uncomfortable.
This could range from something as simple as feeling awkward or challenged when someone asks them an unexpected question, to not understanding how another could think or feel differently than they do. About anything.
As such, they’ll call others “weird” or “too much” because they feel awkward, and they want that discomfort to stop ASAP. This is a type of manipulative behavior that’s meant to mold others into being what they want, instead of who they really are.
Life sucks when you’re not allowed to be your authentic self. Modern society seems to have specific formulae that define what is considered “acceptable.” Anything that falls outside that milieu needs to be beaten into submission.
The education system, for example, rewards those who can sit still for several hours while punishing those who simply cannot do so because of ADHD or some other type of brain function.
The ennui of societal expectations can crush people’s souls, and those whose light hasn’t been extinguished yet are often labeled “too much” by those who are already dead inside.
Or close to it.
It’s possible that your energy and vivacious personality remind them of how they used to be.
Maybe they were once just as free-spirited and excitable as you are, only now the light has gone out of their eyes and they self-medicate in order to keep plodding through their miserable daily lives.
They want everyone to be obedient, well-mannered robots who don’t cause waves and don’t cause anyone to question their life choices. That may be fine for them, but it’s significantly less okay for many others.
Instead of trying to be something you’re not in order to appease other people’s desire for “sameness,” embrace who you are and celebrate your sweet self.
Determine what you love and what drives you, and harness that to live the most authentic life possible. This may require you to change your lifestyle (or even your location) drastically, but at least you’ll be able to be the real you.
Once you have a solid idea of who you really are and what’s important to you, you’ll be able to find like-minded, high-spirited people who don’t merely tolerate you in small doses but thoroughly enjoy spending time with you.
Maybe you’ll find a group that feels like “home” to you when you’re backpacking through Turkey or volunteering in Costa Rica. Or perhaps you’ll discover that your high energy and intense friendliness are ideal for event management and party planning.
The more honest and authentic you are about what’s important to you, the more easily you’ll be able to find your “tribe.”
After that happens, you won’t have to worry about policing your own behavior to make others more comfortable. You can be accepted and loved exactly as you are.
That said, it’s possible that upon doing some soul-searching, you may discover that you aren’t fully comfortable with who you are.
In fact, it’s also possible that behaviors that others consider to be “too much” may be masquerades or contrivances that you’ve donned over the years.
Do you like the person you are?
I was once friends with a vivacious woman who knew just about everyone in our city. She worked in public relations, had a ton of bright, joyful energy, and seemed to never sit still.
Her enthusiasm for life was downright infectious, and she made friends everywhere we went—the kind of person who gets invited to someone’s wedding after an hour of sitting next to them on a plane.
She knew everyone, and everyone loved her. Or that’s how it seemed, at least.
Once we got to know each other well and she realized she could trust me, she turned to me to support her through panic attacks and breakdowns.
You see, she absolutely hated the persona that she had cultivated over the years to compensate for her feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome, and now she felt trapped by it.
Any time she showed her authentic self, people got upset with her for being a downer or asked what was wrong. As a result, she had to play pretend 24/7 and it absolutely exhausted her.
Ultimately, the only way for her to break free from this life was to cut ties with everything around her and start anew. In fact, she moved to another country where she changed her name, went back to school, and started a new career.
We haven’t spoken in over a decade, but I sincerely hope that she’s been able to find real happiness where she is.
Ask yourself whether you’re in a similar situation or if there are aspects of yourself that you aren’t happy with.
If you’re able to identify them, ask yourself whether there’s a way that you can adapt or change so you’re more comfortable with who and how you are.
It’s possible that you’ve been holding back from changing because you don’t want to disappoint or upset those around you.
Your intense behavior may be due to your authentic self bursting at the seams to be seen, heard, and manifested, but it’s trapped within a cage of tightly reined-in obedience.
Alternatively, you might acknowledge and make peace with the fact that you’re impulsive and can’t always control your own behavior. Do you feel like you need to stop talking over people but can’t seem to stop yourself from interrupting when you have something to say?
We mentioned earlier that a good therapist can be your support pillar so you aren’t leaning on your friends, but they can offer so much more help than that.
For example, they can teach you techniques for developing better impulse control and how to talk less and listen more so those around you feel heard, rather than bulldozed over.
Additionally, they can help you to determine whether you are indeed being “too much” or if you’re simply in circumstances that aren’t ideal for your soul to meet its full potential.
Finally, a trained therapist can often recognize previously undiagnosed conditions such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, an autoimmune condition, thyroid disorder, and so on.
What others have labeled as “too much” in terms of your behavior may in fact be a symptom of a particular health concern, and it might be controllable with a few lifestyle changes.
An individual’s perspective, as well as their circumstances, play a big role in what they feel is “too much” versus “not enough.” It’s the Goldilocks principle.
For instance, a ladle of chowder will be too much for a tea cup to hold, and not enough to fill a serving platter, but it’ll offer just the right amount for a soup bowl.
If you’re in a situation where you’re constantly told you’re too much, then it’s likely that you’re simply more than they can handle. And that’s okay.
It’s simply a poor fit, and you can all either find that magical middle ground we discussed earlier or part ways and follow your own authentic paths.
I read a quote once that said, “Am I too much? Then go and find less.”
Listen, you are a magnificent expression of the universe that’s temporarily in human form.
So, surround yourself with those who celebrate your authentic self instead of trying to smother or control you, and encourage others to do the same.
Everyone involved will undoubtedly end up being much happier as a result.