Addicted To Love: Why We're Still Chasing Destructive Relationships

I wanted to know what the f*ck love was, and after I hit rock bottom due to a toxic "romance," I made it my business to find out. As I refined my search, I realized that precisely 97.2 percent of love advice sets people up for relationship failure. Why is there so much sh*t advice when it comes to love?

Our concept of love is skewed because we want to believe love is easy. We work so hard to achieve success in our careers that when it comes time for love, we just want an escape. Life is stressful and complicated, and love should be the antidote.

Or so we think. But while love is often soft and blissful, it requires just as much hard work and sacrifice to maintain.

If love is complete, it won't come at the expense of future generations. But our modern version of love is not complete because it doesn't even factor in our own lasting happiness, let alone the happiness of the children we create.

For how extraordinarily gifted humans are, we seem almost incapable of secure and mature love. I don't think we are deficient, but our concept of love is.

Who could blame us? We grew up watching our parents.

Popular Love And Why It Sucks

Here is a popular quote concerning love, what it is and what it isn't.

Everyone says love hurts, but that is not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts. Everyone gets these things confused with love, but in reality, love is the only thing in this world that covers up all pain and makes someone feel wonderful again. Love is the only thing in this world that does not hurt.

— Meša Selimović

The quote is beautiful, but it's bullsh*t. It employs emotion and hopes to tug at our heartstrings, but it lacks the logic of love. It claims love does not hurt, but I have proof that love — the real, gritty, ass-kicking, worth-dying-for type of love — makes pain beautiful.

Try having a baby and saying love doesn't hurt. Try excelling at anything worthwhile and saying love knows no pain.

Any surface-level examination of love reveals a good deal of suffering, and when it hurts, it hurts for a reason. It hurts to make you stronger, so you can love better and grow past your limitations.

Love is like growing. It's not all pain, but when it hurts, it hurts like a motherf*cker. Try losing your best friend or spouse in a car wreck and saying that isn't true.

Pain is clearly part of the deal, but that doesn't mean we have to be gluttons for masochism. When we have to suffer, it should be toward an accomplishment, like enduring three months of sleepless nights with a newborn or mourning after a loved one exits the world.

These instances of pain leave a person stronger than he or she was before. Though they aren't pleasant, they are natural and important to the human experience. I can't say the same for modern relationships.

When love hurts, it's not for nothing. But when we get the idea that love and pain are mutually exclusive, we skip out on the sacrifices that go to make real and mature love. We get bored with ourselves, we get lonely and we feel the sting of no purpose.

Then, we go out and look for a fix in the comfort of another person's body instead of applying our growing pains to a worthwhile goal. When our idea of love is comfortable and pain-free, we look toward others to relieve our pain. That is when love becomes a drug, and when we become love junkies.

The Difference Between Lust And Love

Lust, envy, selfishness and all types of vice bring pain, but not the growing kind. With love, you experience pain while you grow.

Then, you look back at the pain as a transient event and feel grateful for what you have gained without remorse or regret. Pain (sacrifice) is the down payment for all the good things humans need, like lasting intimacy, happiness, a strong family and even life itself.

Lust is different. Lust knows no pain and is blinded by ecstasy. Lust is like heroin.

You feel like you're on top of the world. You feel like you've really grown and like you know your partner better than anyone could. You feel like you have something no one else can touch. But after the high of lust dissipates, there is nothing to show for it.

People who fall for lust while looking for love eventually realize they don't know anything about their partners. They feel regret, emptiness, sadness and all types of emotional pain after so many months or years.

Then, when the pain becomes unbearable, these “lovers” look to quotes (like the one mentioned above) to rationalize their decisions. “Love doesn't feel like this. Gotta go, bye.”

Then, they look for more human drugs to take away their pain, and they repeat the same cycle ad infinitum, or at least until they learn the logic of love. But we aren't drugs, and when we are used, the abuse echoes into the future and programs innocent human beings to feel unworthy of unconditional love.

While love makes a down payment to secure the good life, lust gets everything on credit with big promises for the future. But until people make sacrifices and brave the growing pains of loving responsibly, they'll never have enough in the bank to cover their loans.

Then, their feelings of love get repossessed, along with their sex lives. Then, their marriages get repossessed, and their families do, too. Just like drug addicts lose their health and purpose, love junkies lose all the good things money can't buy.

People say this destructive cycle is in our DNA, but that is insanely wrong. The destructive cycle lies in our thoughts and habits, which we can change at any time.

Love Junkie Quiz

If you think you might be a love junkie, here are some signs:

- You fall for anyone who gives you the time of day. - You look for relationships to relieve boredom or insecurity. - You don't have a concrete plan to succeed in a long-term marriage or relationship. - You feel like you have to be in a sexual relationship. - Your partners always seem to completely change during the relationship, and not for the better. - You've had a history of several sexual relationships, breakups and broken hearts. - You've stayed with people who you've known were poison. - You've allowed relationships to interfere with your professional life and social connections. - Your relationships rise and fall dramatically, like roller coasters. - You routinely experience anxiety about relationships. - You bought into the hook-up culture.

If any of these signs describe your life, you could be in need of a detox from toxic love. If your definition (or non-definition) of love has poisoned your relationships, here is a more complete definition:

- Love is holistic. It doesn't waste the future for the present. - Love is selfless. It doesn't use others for anything, and it seeks to give first. - Love is wise. It knows what it needs to be happy and whole. - Love is patient. It never rushes. - Love is lasting. It is not prone to degradation. - Love is sacrificial. It makes down payments for the good life. - Love is intelligent. Our brainpower isn't ornamental. - Love is fruitful. It leaves you with more. Lust, on the other hand, leaves you with less. - Love has integrity. It does the right thing, even when it's hard. - Love is honest. It never asks you to lie.

With this challenging definition, you can plan for lifelong relationships that aren't susceptible to the bullsh*t that kills everyone else's. Modern love clearly sucks. It is insecure, jealous, impatient, shortsighted and sets people up for fiascos.

More than that, modern love makes us out to be deficient and incapable of anything better. When we think we are limited in love, we accept so much less than we deserve.

Since the world already has enough war, why don't we bring peace to our relationships and families with adult love? Why don't we abandon today's embarrassing standards and challenge ourselves to dignified and complete love? Why don't we love like our lives depend on it?

These aren't just rhetorical questions. Join the conversation in the comments section.