Whether we’re talking food, sex, drugs, alcohol, porn, gambling or video games…an addiction is any harmful activity upon which our life and well-being revolve. Addictions begin to impact the life of the person involved by slowly taking more, and more, and more of their lives leaving no room for anyone, or anything else. Let’s remember that we’re not simply talking about a struggle here, we’re talking about a stronghold. There’s a difference.
And as a professional counselor, I’ll tell you up-front that a true addiction is not something you can simply decide to walk away from, because its roots always run deep. It grips your life and slowly seeps into every part of who you are. A person who is struggling with the walls of addiction is not fit to be in a dating relationship, much less consider marriage, until that addiction has been dealt with. Healing from an addiction requires time, energy, and self-focus. If you’re dating an addict there’s a good chance one of two things are happening: either you are hindering their healing, or they are hindering your growth. Step away before someone gets seriously hurt.
Once upon a time, I met a woman whose boyfriend lied a lot. He’d lie about the small things – like how late he was working or how much money he had in his pocket, and then even the big things- like where he was or who he was hanging out with. And because of her love and commitment to him, she found herself making excuses for him along the way. Fast forward 6 years and their marriage is falling apart as the walls of trust had completely crumbled.
If you don’t have honesty in a relationship, you don’t have trust. And if you don’t have trust in a relationship, you have no relationship at all. A person who can’t be real about big things and small things alike, is a person who has something to hide.
When we think of an abusive relationship, for most of us images of a bruised or battered woman come to mind. While I’m thankful for the media attention this topic has received lately, I want to make sure that we don’t reduce an abusive relationship down to an image of a battered woman, because abuse comes in different shapes, forms, and voices. Whether we’re talking about the manipulation of emotional and psychological abuse, the coercion of sexual abuse, or the twisting of God’s word in spiritual abuse – an abusive relationship is a relationship in which one person uses their power or position to control and harm another person.
But like I always say healthy relationships are never a one-sided thing. They’re not about power, manipulation or control, but rather, they’re about two people loving, giving, serving, and sacrificing for one another. Abuse, in any form, has no place under the umbrella of a sacrificial and loving marriage, which is the only model that God intended for a husband and wife.
One of the biggest patterns I see in unhealthy or toxic relationship has to do with this specific trait, because it’s not as obvious as the rest. The emotionally unavailable person is someone who is not involved, connected, or engaged in the relationship. Usually, they are distracted by other things. Something (or someone) is taking their attention away from the relationship.
This could be the alcoholic, the workaholic, or the chronic cheater, but the idea is they all have this one thing in common: they’re not fully invested. And the thing is, they never will be. So many times men and women stick around in these empty relationships, waiting for things to change. But a one-sided dating relationship will always equal a one-sided marriage, because what you see in dating doesn’t change just because you put a ring on their finger. Save yourself the heartache and grief by choosing better for your life and relationships.
The healthiest of marriages are made of two people who are giving, loving, and serving one another. So then why do we settle for much less in our dating relationships? Unfortunately, we live in a dog-eat-dog culture. We teach our children to get ahead no matter the cost. But somehow, we’re still surprised that there are so many narcissists walking around.
A narcissist is someone that is so obsessed with him or herself that they don’t have the capacity to focus on someone else. This is the kind of person with the mentality that “it’s all about me”. They live their life as a party of one, even when they’re in a committed relationship. They make choices, decisions, and plans based only on what’s best for them, rather than taking their partner into consideration. They live their life to get ahead, no matter how it might hurt or impact the people around them. And a person who is doing life alone now, is a person who won’t be able to do life together later.
Dating is a great time to identify the red flags in a relationship long before there’s a ring on your finger. But the thing is, it’s not worth identifying them if you’re not going to move away from them. Once you see them, remember that red always means stop, and then get the courage you need to move away and get healthy. Marriage is about choosing someone to walk with you through the journey of life. And it’s a long journey – so be sure to choose well.