I define addiction as an unfulfilling cycle of bad choices which keeps one from experiencing God’s best and ultimately leads to death. For romantic addicts, death means ultimate forfeiture of the very best marriage plans God has for one’s life. In simpler terms, someone who refuses to trust God to meet their needs in the way of a mate may never meet The One. In the case of romantic addiction, there are three phases of the cycle:
- The It Feels So Right Phase
- The It’s Just Complicated Phase
- The I’m Stuck Phase
Here’s the deal: I’ll describe the characteristics of each phase if you agree to perform an honest, introspective evaluation. So stop right now; put down your defenses, and take off your blinders. The Bible says, “The truth will set you free.” If you’re not bent on taking a good hard look at your dating life, you might as well stop wasting your time here. Go do something else. The good news for those who agree to continue reading is you get to learn in a few minutes what took me and countless others years to discover. Let’s get started.
The It Feels So Right Phase
Simply entering this initial phase does not mean you are, in fact, addicted to romance. However, take heed because this is where many are hooked. What happens is simple. First, you’re attracted to someone who thinks you’re pretty hot too. As a result, you start hanging out. Pretty quick-like, feelings I’ve heard described as lovey-dovey, ooey-gooey, tingly and butterfly-like start to rise up within you. Each time you’re together, the feelings escalate, and you like it! As a result, you allow your brain to park in the off position and follow your heart. Therein is your problem. The Bible says the heart is deceptive above all things (Jeremiah 17:9).
With your heart as your guide, you’ll eventually land in a bed of compromise and be faced with a major decision. Will you have sex before marriage? If you choose to sin, what I have to say next will probably surprise you. At first, something so wrong will most likely feel so good and right. Even the Bible states that sin is pleasurable for a season (Hebrews 11:25). However, what promises to satisfy at the beginning will leave you empty in the end, not to mention the plethora of other consequences. The Lord tells us to “flee from sexual immorality…” (1 Corinthians 6:18). If you ignore God’s warning, when the feelings subside (and they will), you will inevitably enter phase two of the cycle. However, it’s important to note that premarital sex is not the only qualifier for landing you in next phase. Read on for details.
The It’s Just Complicated Phase
It’s Complicated is just a much cooler way to say, “I’m confused and discontented; I’m being convicted because I’ve made a lifestyle out of bad dating choices.” James of the Bible calls such persons “unstable and double-minded” (James 1:8). If you consistently do things like bounce from one bad relationship to another, attempt to justify living together or having sex before marriage, or write off personal involvement in worldly parties as no big deal (just sowing some wild oats), then, of course, things become complicated. The reason: your spirit knows what is right, but you aren’t doing it! The band Jars of Clay nails it on the head when they sing, “I am (you are) a house that is divided, in my (your) heart and in my (your) mind.” God is not to blame for your confusion; His rules regarding dating are pretty simple, and obeying Him always brings peace. It’s when you disobey that you complicate things.
Most of us know that escaping any addiction is impossible without first admitting a problem exists! Don’t think for a second that persons stuck in phase two will confess their dating life is not right. Denying the truth, addicts will instead place confessing on the back burner and press onward in hopes of recapturing the deceptive, temporary, seemingly good feelings they experienced in phase one. However, instead of finding good feelings, they inevitably will be filled with more doubt, guilt, shame, frustration, and emptiness than they ever imagined possible. In an effort to offset despair, romantic addicts arm themselves with a long list of bad excuses to continue in their folly and react defensively toward anyone, even friends or family members, who express genuine concern about their dating decisions. To their detriment, they live like they can make wrong relationships actually be right. Every poor choice carries them further and further from their relationship with Jesus. Many will choose to live in their complicated state for years before repenting and admitting their dating life needs a miraculous makeover.
The I’m Stuck Phase
Often, it’s extreme dissatisfaction, frustration, and even depression that stems from a lifestyle of unhealthy choices which catapults persons into this final phase, but I’m Stuck really isn’t as bad as it sounds. You see, it’s here that people finally fess up and admit their need for God’s help to undo their romantic mess. Someone in this phase once said, “I felt as though the Holy Spirit had me in a corner; I had to admit the truth.” Unfortunately, many who finally admit their need for God’s help forget to surrender their romantic agenda completely to Him. Instead, repeating conditional prayers like, “God if you will (fill in the blank), then I will (fill in the blank), they attempt to control how and when God blesses them with a companion. My friend, God will not bend to fit your agenda! He has a very specific, awesome plan designed for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). If you want His best in the way of a mate, I suggest you read the Bible to learn the conditions that accompany every promise in His word! Yes! God is willing to take your trashy past and turn it to true treasure, but you must give it all to Him. True, faithful, obedient believers don’t keep a worldly back-plan (or relationship) in their pocket just in case God doesn’t come through. What’s liberating is not to merely say you believe God’s dating plan is better than yours, but to show Him by matching your walk with your talk. If you don’t, you’ll stay stuck the rest of your life!
Freedom from addiction occurs when one truly seeks and obeys God. He says, “I love those who love me (Proverbs 8:17), and those who love me obey me (John 14:23-24). I reward those who diligently seek me” (Hebrews 11:6). To find your promised reward, the man or woman God intends for you, you must draw near to God. Only He can give you the strength you need to wait patiently and live righteously. God’s eyes constantly roam the earth seeking to bless whole-hearted, faithful followers (2 Chronicles 16:9). There is hope in Him alone. Any romantic addict who completely turns their eyes from what the world has to offer and looks to God to meet their need will fall entirely from the grip of romantic addiction.
Okay, here it is… a special word of encouragement for those of you who took the challenge I issued and now humbly admit you’re addicted to romance. God is saying to you, “I want you to look to Me. I am your provider (Matthew 6:31-33); I have your best interest at heart (Jeremiah 29:11). I not only can make a way to your future spouse, but I am The Way (John 14:6)!” Now He may use an online dating service, school reunion, church, a blind date, or some other means to bring you to your future spouse. However, your heart must run to Him first as your provider. He will choose the very best time and place He desires to guide you to The One.
You’re left with a choice: “Will you let God guide you, or will you return to your foolish ways as a dog returns to his vomit (Proverbs 26:11)?” You can wait—God’s way—for marriage and have His very best! When you find yourself caught in a romantic mess, God promises to provide a way out for you; He is faithful (I Corinthians 10:13). You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13).