There’s undoubtedly an excitement and emotional thrill to new found love. Our hearts, our minds, our lives are enraptured by being embraced in the adoration of someone else. They make you happy, they make you laugh, they liven your senses again and make life worthwhile after a few dry, maybe lowly months or years. They feed some of our most basic emotional needs, love and affection, and on that high we find some sense of fulfillment. After all, we were created to love and be loved so it’s natural to feel this way. But are we receiving in and from all the right places? Well those butterflies have a name; they’re called dopamine. And dopamine is okay…sometimes.
There are many studies and explanations on the functions and biology of dopamine but to make matters simple I’ll put it in easier terms. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that transmits messages through the central nervous system, that helps manage the pleasure and reward system in our brain. It’s associated with the same feeling of adrenaline and is released during pleasurable situations. Things like food, sex, drugs even coffee release high levels of dopamine in our brain which not only give us feelings of pleasure and reward but reinforce us to continue seeking after it. Dopamine is not only highlighting our desires but it’s a motivator to go get more. Almost sounds like the flesh, huh?
But it’s not all bad! It’s also related to our survival instincts and relieves us to eat and drink and continue doing so not only because it feels good to our body but because we need these things to live. So it’s also an essential function for many other reasons.
So what am I saying?
Dopamine is your porn addiction. It is your alcohol addiction. It is your social media addiction, every time you get so many likes. It’s your addiction to attention especially the adrenaline driven by the opposite sex. It is your addiction to relationship after relationship because your brain has reinforced its pleasure to you over and over again. Repetitive exposure to these feelings cause our nerves to communicate in a way that turns from wanting it into driving us to go after it! It’s a high that eventually comes back down but always seeks more.
Lets Be Real
It makes us feel alive. Every time someone’s affection is expressed toward us it slightly rushes through the blood in our veins. Maybe because we’re under appreciated. Maybe because we don’t know if we are lovable anymore. Maybe because life has become so monotonous and gray and a little bit of love all of the sudden adds color to the scene. But the down side of being addicted to the pleasure of being loved is that it’s not long before you’ll settle for anything to feed that feeling again. We lower God’s and our own standards and many times lose all self-worth and all sight of what we truly deserve to reinforce our dependency on the feeling of being loved. There’s a word for that too. It’s called co-dependency.
Anytime you begin to crave or need somebody’s attention, need their love, need their acknowledgement you are on the road of being codependent. Codependency on another person is dysfunctional and so unhealthy. It tells us we need another person to fulfill us and we get upset when they aren’t. Love is patient. Codependency is demanding. Love is selfless. Codependency is selfish. It says I need you to fulfill me, to make me feel happy, to make me feel loved, to make me whole. Codependency puts unrealistic expectations on another person. It requires them to be a personal God or Savior that they need to depend on.
There are so many people struggling with codependency on people because they haven’t allowed God to fill that first place in their heart. Whenever we feel a neediness for another person it shows we’re not being fulfilled by God first. Because the healthy God kind of love is selfless. We’re guilty of waiting for someone to show us the love we should be able to show ourselves.
Love should always be about the other person. Understanding them. Having patience with them. Serving them. When it’s about you, it isn’t love. Codependency can also look like this: I NEED you to let me save you. A Savior Syndrome; because it’s still driven by self-fulfillment. And boy have I been there! So many people go into love for what it can do for them; how it will make them feel. That’s not love, that’s neediness. When you have a healthy love for someone, you’re patient with them; you’re understanding. You care for their best, even if it doesn’t include you. Codependency and unrealistic expectations on a person can ruin a good relationship when it’s about you.
Love is stable.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its highs and lows, but when you both come back down from your high and life gets tough or mistakes have been made or the other person has done something unfavorable or demands are pulling you both…what’s left? What foundation has been built? Outside of all of your intense emotions for each other, what’s holding you together? Because the highs will come down at some point and you’ll need more than dopamine. You’ll need direction, you’ll need enduring commitment, you’ll need two responsible and mature people, you’ll need Jesus to help keep everything together through your flaws. And trust me both of your flaws exist no matter how many butterflies temporarily make them tolerable, time will be the real eye-opener.
Really reflect, if all you have is sexual pleasure or hearing all the right words, a good time or two with no purpose, no direction and no foundation built to last. If all they can offer you is sex and a good time, with barely any commitment and it gets you high because life has been mediocre and you don’t know when something this exciting will come around again, then I have to challenge you. That is not love. You are worth purposeful time, a purposeful relationship and purposeful standards.
If you DO have a solid and deep foundation then great! The highs of newfound and long lasting love make the journey all the more exciting and worthwhile.
If you’re reading this and you are addicted to feeling loved maybe the deeper question to ask yourself is why? Are you struggling with seeing the vision of everything that you’re worth? Have you experienced enough disappointments to convince you that real, stable love isn’t out there for you? Do you not trust that God will provide the right needs for you at the right time if you’d just walk in His path in patience? Have you stopped devoting your heart to God to fill your voids and taken it into your own hands out of desperation? Hey, I’ve been there.
God designed us to get our needs met through a healthy and secure relationship with Him, within ourselves and everything else to pour over from there.
The fact that you might’ve asked yourself the question maybe the first sign that you either are or are headed that way. Be honest about it. The best place to fix something is in having a real understanding of what’s actually broken. Because effects like dopamine respond to experiences it’s good to begin replacing those dependencies with opposite experience of safety and love to heal; and there’s no better place to find that then in the hands of Christ.
Don’t forget to comment your thoughts below!