How to Break a Toxic Romantic Relationship Cycle with Men
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 1 Apr
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Christy Johnson’s new book Love Junkies: 7 Steps for Breaking the Toxic Relationship Cycle (Authentic Publishers, 2014).
Does your personal happiness depend on whether or not you’re enjoying a happy romantic relationship with a man? If so, you’re bound to suffer heartache on your quest for happiness, because approaching romance with that unhealthy attitude will only draw you into a toxic relationship cycle with men.
The good news is that, no matter how deeply you’ve gotten stuck in such a cycle, you can break free from it and find true love with God’s help. Here’s how:
Consider whether you may be a love junkie. A love junkie is a woman who is addicted to unhealthy romantic relationships. Honestly reflect on your life to consider whether you have any symptoms of such an addiction, such as: feeling incomplete without a current romantic relationship; a pattern of being drawn into unhealthy relationships; a tendency to allow men to manipulate you; compromising your faith in relationships and settling for less than God’s best in romantic partners; not noticing character flaws until you’re deeply invested in relationships; thinking that God is going to use you to change your romantic partner; feeling as if you’re more responsible for others than you actually are; giving in to sexual temptation even when you only want affection; minimizing the pain you feel in your relationships; catering to the needs, opinions, and demands of your romantic partner instead of your own; fantasizing about how a different relationship would eliminate your current pain; choosing men who don’t have the capacity to truly love or commit; focusing on your romantic partner’s problems to the point that you ignore your own; settling for less than you really want in a romantic relationship; and thinking that your own happiness depends on whether or not your romantic partner changes in the ways you’d like him to change.
Turn to the source of love for the love you need. The ultimate source of love is God, whose essence is love. If you’re a love junkie, you’re caught in a destructive cycle that only God can free you from so you can enjoy the healthy relationships he intends for you. So decide to make God your first love, devoting yourself wholeheartedly to your relationship with him by making it your top priority in life. Then you’ll experience true love and real fulfillment of your deepest desires and needs.
Make decisions based on wisdom rather than emotions. Your emotions are unreliable because they constantly change and don’t necessarily reflect an accurate perspective on people and situations. But God has the full perspective on everyone and everything, and the wisdom he can give you through the Holy Spirit is completely reliable. The more you make decisions based on wisdom instead of emotions, the more successful your relationships will be.
Drop off your baggage. Don’t carry unhealthy baggage (memories and emotions from past experiences) around with you any longer. Keep in mind that you’ll attract men who are only as healthy as you are. Confess your sins and seek the healing that God offers you for your pain and the strength he offers you for your weaknesses.
Discover your true identity. Seek your worth through the reflection of Jesus Christ in you, and not in the opinions of other people. Refuse to base your sense of personal value on the opinions of men. Instead, read and meditate on what God says in the Bible about who you are because of your relationship with him. Ask the Holy Spirit to absorb those truths deep into your soul so they’ll take root there.
Forgive. Cleanse your soul of the toxic waste that is bitterness by choosing to obey God’s call to walk in forgiveness. Let your gratitude for how God has forgiven you of your sins motivate you to forgive everyone who hurts you – including the men who have hurt you in romantic relationships. Rather than trying to make the men who have hurt you pay for their sins, trust God to deal with them justly and move forward with your life in peace. Keep in mind that, while forgiveness is required, trust has to be earned – so be sure to set healthy boundaries in place to protect yourself from being mistreated again by men who have mistreated you in the past.
Imagine a better life. Develop and maintain a healthy thought life so you can follow God’s vision for your future. Replace discouraging thoughts in your mind with encouraging thoughts by regularly asking the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and choosing to focus on biblical truths. Don’t obsess over romantic fantasies because they can grow into dangerous attitudes and behaviors that will pull you farther away from God rather than closer to him. Ask God to give you a vision of how your life can be in the future when you’ve healed and can enjoy healthy relationships.
Pray. Enjoy regular conversations with God to seek direction and wisdom. Balance your time praying between talking to God and listening to him. Keep in mind that, the more time you spend in prayer, the more you’ll learn to recognize the Holy Spirit speaking to you, and the power you’ll receive in the process to develop healthy relationships.
Resolve to obey God and ask him to help you do so. Ask God to give you divine revelation to add to your human strength, empowering you to successfully make the changes he is leading you to make in how you relate to men and live out your faith. Resolve to obey God’s calling to be sexually pure, and rely on the Holy Spirit’s help day by day to do so. Set healthy boundaries with men and leave situations that tempt you to sin.
Practice accountability. Protect your resolve to do God’s will by regularly discussing your choices with people who will give you wise counsel and hold you accountable to living faithfully. Find a few friends whom you trust and respect (those who have healthy and strong relationships with God and other people) to talk with openly and honestly about your romantic relationships and to pray with on a regular basis. Before releasing your heart to fall in love with any man from now on, make sure that he is truly worthy of your trust. Don’t settle just for charm or charisma; get to know the character underneath. Go beyond what a man tells you about himself to observe how he really acts – especially when he’s dealing with life’s stresses and pressures.
Say “yes” to God. Every day, say “yes” to living faithfully for God, devoting yourself to him as the love of your life. Make a habit of surrendering your own agenda and allowing God to lead and guide your life, so you can enjoy the best life possible in all of your relationships – with God, with men, and with everyone else in your life.
Adapted from Love Junkies: 7 Steps for Breaking the Toxic Relationship Cycle, copyright 2014 by Christy Johnson. Published by Authentic Publishers, Franklin, Tn., www.authenticpublishers.com.
As a former love junkie, Christy Johnson knows the pain and chaos that accompanies toxic relationships. After a disastrous first marriage filled with addiction and adultery and the tragic death of her youngest son, Christy has found the beauty on the other side of brokenness. Today, as a certified life coach, inspirational speaker, ordained minister and soul-health advocate, Christy spends her time speaking nationally sharing her story and encouraging others with the hope and power of God. She and her heaven-picked husband, John, and their family, reside in Oklahoma City. Visit her website at: www.christyjohnson.org.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.
Publication date: April 1, 2014