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Love or an Addiction?
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Our culture glorifies the notion of love and romance, with people “falling in love” and “living happily ever after.” Each of us feels the desire for belonging, importance, and intimacy. God has given us a way to relate to one another and to Him so that our need to “feel good” through relationships can be fully satisfied. Unfortunately, many of us have no idea how to relate to God or to our fellow human beings in any way other than “this makes me feel good.” So we are vulnerable to a relationship that offers to fulfill that God-given need. 

Addiction is an intensifying experience which grows out of someone's habitual response to something that has special meaning to him or her. That behavior produces feelings of safety, reassurances, affirmation, and even pleasure. It is our nature to repeat that which produces pleasure, affirmation, reassurance, and safety. As the addictive process grows in intensity, providing the desired result, we gradually lose our power to choose for or against the activity. Instead, we compulsively repeat the activity or return to the object of our affection. “We don't have it anymore, it has us,”1 suggests William Lenters.

Love Addiction

Love addiction is often perceived to be “less serious” than other process addictions such as eating disorders, self-harming addictions, or sexual addictions. Perhaps because it sounds “softer” and because of the “love” part people are less likely to see it as it is. In reality, it is extremely painful and can be very dangerous. Suicides, murders, stalkings, rapes, and other crimes of passion have their roots in this addiction.

An addiction says, “I can't live without you. You give my life meaning. You make me feel valuable. When I'm with you, I'm somebody. I want you to be a total part of my life, and I want to be a total part of yours. You should be sensitive to my needs. I have feelings, and I need you to take that into consideration (I.e., take care of me). If you really care, you'll treat me the way I need to be treated to feel good.”

These are dangerous ways of thinking and relating. A relationship addiction can be devoid of romance, and can take on the total care of another person. This can involve calling the boss to explain someone else's behavior, making excuses for another, or making sure their every need is met by you (co-dependency).

I invite you to recognize the problems dependency creates. It creates loss of choices, loss of creative energy, your perspective of other people, your own personhood, your dreams, and even your fellowship with the Lord.

Ellen White was ahead of her time when she wrote, “Nothing is apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that feels its nothingness and relies wholly on the merits of the Savior. By prayer, by the study of His word, by faith in His abiding presence, the weakest of human beings may live in contact with the living Christ, and He will hold them by a hand that will never let go.”2

1.Lenters, William. The Freedom We Crave: Addiction—The Human Condition. W.B. Eerdmans. Grand Rapids, Mich. (1985)

2.White, Ellen G. Conflict and Courage. Review and Herald Publishing Association. Washington, D.C. (1970)

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By Susan E. Murray. Reprinted with permission from the Lake Union Herald, May 2007. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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