Relationships provide us with a sense of comfort. We have to be careful that this comfort doesn’t become a crutch.
Relationships are comforting. Being in a good, and sometimes even a bad relationship, provides us with definite feelings of satisfaction. In both the positive and negative times, ultimately relationships come with built in feelings that we have someone there for us. After awhile, it is easy to fall into the comfort provided by relationships and the more comfortable we become, the safer we feel.
There is a danger though if we rely on the feelings that stem from relationship and in allowing this comfort to become a crutch. While enthralling, it is damaging to constantly lose yourself in another while spending no time on the self. If we are not careful, this act of being in serial relationships can mature to the point that we develop dependency. Unchecked, our relationships can become our addictions. If we want healthy relationships and to eventually be the best partner to our significant other, we must avoid these relationship addictions.
Addiction is something I know a thing or two about within the form of relationships. For the longest time in college, I was a serial monogamist; the kind of guy that couldn’t go a few weeks without ending up committed. What began my freshmen year as a few causal dates became a relationship and although it only lasted five months, upon its denouement it didn’t take me longer than a few days to jump to another relationship. This time I made it about a month before the experiment failed and only a few weeks before I found yet another new partner.
This next relationship was much more substantial, lasting closer to two years but with it ending, I was back to the beginning. Despite finding myself much more unstable emotionally, I still managed to use this period as a jumping point to a form of dating others that while often short-lived included all the frameworks of relationship investment. Over the next few years, this trend continued. One relationship would end and another would begin weeks or short months later. It got to the point that finally, after one particularly bad ending, I made an effort to control my addiction. With a friend we deliberated on addressing my follies. Our conclusion: I would be single for six months. I even signed and mailed a contract where I committed to this oath. Facing something a bit more unfamiliar than I imagined, I was ready to approach the single life.
Single living I did. For six months, I allowed myself time to me. Despite a few moments where I needed my friend to remind me of why I made my promise, I managed to make it through six months relationship-free. Being deliberately focused on everything but relationships was one of the best decisions of my life. I was a relationship hermit, closed off from the world, but through my solitude I grew immensely. Throughout this time, I learned much about myself.
It was wonderful until at the end of the six months guess what happened? The allure came back. Not much later did six months hit than I jumped into another relationship. Having learned though, I promised this time would be better and it wasn’t just chasing the need for fulfillment. Thankfully, this was mostly correct and parts of my new relationship blossomed due to the growth stemming from having waited. There were also pieces though where I struggled, especially with the thought of “was this just a crutch?” While things eventually ended due to a mix of being unready and external factors, it was still an important reminder.
There are times where relationships are going to seem like the best idea because they are going to make us feel comfortable. These relationships are going to enrich our life and provide us happiness. They are going to make us secure. These are all okay things, so long as we do not allow these pieces to become a crutch. When considering new relationships, make sure you are advocating for something fruitful instead of just approaching another new source of comfort.
As individuals, we must avoid developing addictions to relationships. Relationships make it easy to have someone there that we can rely on to provide us sources of support. From the negative side though, it is easy to use new relationships to mask internal pains, feelings of inadequacy, or to rebound from rejection. As with any addiction, there is a danger in this cycle of use.
If we are not careful, relationships can turn from healthy, happy aspects of life to support systems masking significant turmoil. In the rush to start a new relationship, be sure you are not seeking out moments of comfort while really neglecting the needs of building an actual bond. The quickest way to avoid this is watch out for that serial dating mentality. Be cautious of allowing yourself to become the person who is constantly moving from relationship to relationship because it is habit or because it brings you comfort instead of for healthy reasons.
There is no way for me to define for anyone but myself what the acceptable time is to move in-between relationships. We must be honest with ourselves in determining our own relationship patterns and questioning our motivations. Only we can decide this, but it is important we decide this deliberately instead of trying to remedy a potential ailment after it has developed.
Remember that relationships are not bad, but allowing yourself to become addicted to the sensations of a relationships can come with the price of losing yourself. In the battle for personal growth, any addiction is a marring blemish, obscuring the future while allowing us to only see the past. Avoid relationship addictions and instead be comfortable taking that alone time to grow individually in a way that will benefit you and everyone else. I guarantee your next relationship will be much stronger as a result of this.