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The ‘Puppy Love’ Syndrome

by Eharmony Editorial Team - June 10, 2010

It's not just teens getting struck with severe cases of puppy love! Could you be stifling the very thing you want to blossom?

Puppy love. Chances are, these words evoke the image of starry-eyed teenagers high on romance for the first time. It is an apt comparison since puppies—and young lovers—are notoriously clingy, affectionate, and slobbery. Both radiate a level of energy and exuberance that gets old pretty quick.

Thank God dogs grow up and get lazier … and lovers grow wiser and more self-controlled.

Well, some people do anyway. The truth is, “puppy love syndrome” is a condition that can persist well into adulthood. Many people suffer a relapse every time a new romance comes along. And it is frequently fatal to fragile budding relationships, which suffocate without a chance to breathe.

How can you recognize telltale symptoms in yourself? Here are three common ones:

Too much time together.
You know you are at risk if you read those words and thought, “Is that possible? Isn’t togetherness the whole point of dating?” Well, yes — but like most things you can definitely overdo it. The trick is knowing where to draw the line. As Einstein proved, time is pretty hard to fathom. Hours in the company of a lover seem like mere seconds. So how can you know how much time with a new partner is too much? Fortunately, there are some warning signs that things are out of balance. Watch out if:

• Your other friends and family think you’ve been abducted
• Your house or apartment looks like you’ve been abducted—because you haven’t cleaned it in weeks
• You can’t remember the last time you went anywhere alone
• You haven’t had a decent night’s sleep recently

At any stage of a relationship, so much togetherness can quickly lose its appeal and start to feel like a slipknot tightening around both your necks.

Too much technology—telephone, text, twitter, etc.
In the “old days” there was a saying: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” It is likely that recent generations of young lovers will not have a clue what that means. Why? Because now, even when we are separated by physical distance, social networking technology has enabled us to remain “together” in virtual space — all the time. We never gaze longingly out the window anymore wondering where our lover is at the moment, or what she is doing. Thanks to the 400th “tweet” of the day, we know that she is in line at the bank and that she likes the teller’s hair color.

Obviously, communication is a good thing. But be careful. Be sparing. Don’t risk turning your partner’s phone into an electronic choke chain — and suffocating the relationship in the process.

TMI (too much information). Sharing personal and even secret details about yourself with a new partner can seem intimate — or intimidating. It can be a bond between you or a premature burden on the relationship. The difference is in the timing (go slow) and the volume of information you share (less is more).

Personal space is defined by more than physical proximity. Equally important are time, privacy, and appropriate levels of intimacy. Avoid strangling a new romance by knowing when to stay on your side of the line.