Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Put the Bad Relationship Down: When Lust Becomes Addictive

I recently read a book by Rob Bell called Sex God. Regardless of whether you are a Christian or not EVERYONE should read this book. It contains the most eloquent explanation of unconditional love I have ever read.

The book is about more than sex and love. As he states often, “this is really about that.”

One heavy subject he tackles is addiction. All of us at one point in our lives have been addicted to something. Pick your poison; unhealthy relationships, sex, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, raw cookie dough, Friends re-runs. Obviously some addictions are more destructive than others, but on some level any addiction is destructive. It ends up controlling us and that always has negative consequences anywhere from minor pangs of guilt to physical danger.

My whole life I have dealt with emotional and physical baggage I don’t know what to do with. It’s easy to be tempted by anything and everything that will take you away from dealing with reality even if it only for a matter of moments. No one chooses to be an addict; it just becomes preferable to the alternative.

In the context of his book Bell is confronting sexual addiction. Many individuals are addicted to relationships and/or sex because to them it is preferable to the alternative. Being alone.

Validation, feeling accepted and wanted, is addictive.

The danger here is two-fold; first, it’s easy to be blissfully unaware that this is a problem. I could discuss the horrible cycle of co-dependency but that is a whole other post. We all have that one friend who is incapable of being single for more than ten minutes. They end up dating some real winners, let me tell you. Here is where the line is crossed; it’s okay to date lots of people, but when you get to that point that you settle for someone who treats you like crap because it’s preferable to the alternative it becomes unhealthy. When a relationship/sexual behavior requires an intervention that is probably a red flag.

The second danger is even if they acknowledge this as a pattern, they don’t see it as a terribly dangerous one. They don’t see any harm in it. Being addicted to sex or relationships seems like a lesser evil compared to drugs or alcohol. Again, ANY addiction is destructive to some degree because you are not experiencing true emotional or physical freedom. While drugs and alcohol don’t respect your body, addictive relationships or sex don’t respect your personality, your unique soul. I don’t know about you but I am a little more attached to my soul than I am to my body so I consider this to be a pretty dangerous pattern.

Any addict will tell you that if you have this type of relentless, passionate energy it needs to go SOMEWHERE. Everyone needs an outlet. If that energy isn't channeled somewhere productive or healthy it will be channeled somewhere destructive and hurtful.

So, what are you channeling your energies into?

Bell says, “Life is not about toning down and repressing your God-given life force. It’s about channeling it and focusing it and turning it loose on something beautiful, something pure and true and good, something that connects you with God, with others, with the world.”

My hope is that everyone can find an outlet that fulfills them as individuals so relationships and sex become a blessing instead of a “better than the alternative” scenario. For me those outlets are writing and painting; for you it could be horseback riding, rock climbing, or mud wrestling. Hey, I don’t judge.

So just say no to that second date with the guy who kicks small animals. The alternative really can't be worse than that.

Suggested Reading:
Sex God by Rob Bell
Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict by Tsultrim Allione
Provides a spirtiual/meditative approach for channeling your negative energies or "demons"


  1. Aw, you make it sound like there is something wrong with mud wrestling. : /

  2. On a serious note, I'll have to czech that book out. I know a few people who need to read it. : )

  3. Yes do, it is an excellent book. I wouldn't say I have a problem with mud wrestling as much as a general sense of confusion and disgust concerning its appeal...but you know, each to his own.