Painkiller Series – Inappropriate Relationships
“I’m such a jerk magnet.”
“Women are just cruel.”
“Men are all the same — liars and cheaters!”
Do any of these statements sound like what you said to your best friend after your last breakup? And the one before? And even the one before that? If so, you may be caught in a cycle of unhealthy and inappropriate relationships. How did you get here? More importantly, how can you get out of this hurtful, harmful cycle?
How Did I Get Here? Finding the Pain Behind Unhealthy Relationships
People don’t start out looking for bad relationships. But people who have been deeply hurt are afraid to get into another situation that leaves them so open and vulnerable. Bad relationships lack the true intimacy, freedom, and closeness that good relationships offer. That means that bad relationships actually seem like a safe place to hide, where you don’t have to fear closeness and intimacy — the hallmarks of healthy relationships.
Behind all unhealthy and inappropriate relationships lies a pain that you’re trying to cover up. Sometimes, adult children hide from the pain of abuse and neglect by entering a long series of bad relationships. Other times, the pain happens to someone after they’re already grown up. Perhaps an early relationship or young marriage ended painfully, and that kind of open intimacy is just too risky again.
Rejection by a romantic partner, cheating, abuse, and selfishness in intimate relationships — all these cause pain and heartache. Some people are injured by close friends, extended family members, or even employers. A job you lost unfairly. A friend who stabbed you in the back. A family member who callously left you out of something. All these and many other injuries lead to pain. And one way to cover up or temporarily get your mind off the pain is by hiding in an unhealthy, inappropriate relationship.
These hurt people don’t want to be alone — alone is too hard, and alone means you aren’t worthy of having someone else in your life. A good relationship is too risky — all that trust, openness, and vulnerability is just plain scary! Bad relationships offer enough companionship to not be alone, but not enough closeness and intimacy to be a real threat.
But these relationships become a brand new source of pain — restarting the harmful, hurtful cycle all over again. Psychologists call these ‘irrelationships’.
How Can I Know if I’m in a Bad Relationship?
How do you identify an irrelationship, or a dysfunctional relationship that stands in the way of real intimacy?
- Do you enter a relationship to try to ‘fix’ the other person?
- Do you enter a relationship hoping they will ‘fix’ you?
- When you talk about ‘love’ do you really mean ‘take care of’?
- Do you keep giving, even when you aren’t receiving?
- Do you keep taking, even when the other person isn’t receiving much from you?
- Does the relationship leave you feeling exhausted?
But bad relationships don’t cover the pain and don’t make it go away. Actually, inappropriate relationships just build up more layers of pain that you have to deal with. These relationships do not offer support, encouragement, and security — all of which lead to healing. Instead, they cause insecurity, resentment, and low self-esteem, all of which are painful and make it harder to ever build and enjoy a healthy relationship in the future.
How to End a Cycle of Unhealthy Relationships
First, you need to recognize that inappropriate and unhealthy relationships are a sin. [II Corinthians 6:14 says: “14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”] When you’re messing around in a relationship you know isn’t right, you are actually cheating on the person who will one day be your spouse! Plus, God can never send the right person along when you’re involved with the wrong one.
Second, you need to realize that everyone has sinned [Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”], and that there is a way out of sin and judgment [John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”].
There’s a way to get rid of the guilt and hurt and heartache of a long series of bad relationships, and get right with your heavenly Father, who created romantic relationships to be a joy to us, not to send us more pain. Isaiah 53:4 says, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” Jesus is standing, waiting for you to give your pain to Him, because He already bore it and overcame it on the Cross!
There is only one relationship that can ‘fix’ you. That’s a relationship with Jesus Christ. We often make the mistake of thinking, “I can’t go to Jesus until I get my life straightened out! He won’t accept me with all this sin in my life!” We are so happy to tell you, He wants you to come as you are. You don’t get your act together and then come to Jesus. You come to Jesus, and then He gets your act together for you!
The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Confess to Jesus that you’ve tried to hide your pain in unhealthy relationships instead of turning to Him for comfort and healing. Repent of your sins, and commit in your heart that you’re no longer going to try to hide from pain by heaping more pain on yourself through bad relationships!
After this conversation with Jesus, you will feel cleansed and renewed. But it doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t just hear your prayers and walk away. He stays with you. He continues to walk with you, not only to help you face temptation when another potential ‘bad relationship’ comes around, but to heal your pain and comfort you and protect you from future pain.
Some pain, especially deep hurts, old wounds, and pain that took years to accumulate (such as during an abusive childhood or long-term unhealthy relationship), doesn’t heal quickly. Sometimes, it takes a long time, praying, reading the Scripture, and walking with Jesus. Just like any other pain — whether physical or emotional — you will soon notice it isn’t as bad. Then, you’ll realize you hardly ever think of it any more. Finally, it will be a distant memory, erased by the love and healing that only the blood of Jesus can bring.
If you have never started a relationship with Jesus, you may have some questions. We’ve created a video just for you! In this short video, you can learn exactly what it means to “get saved” and find out how it works. If you pray this prayer along with Bro. Jacky, or if you still have questions about salvation and how Jesus came to end your pain, please call us at 205-338-7711.
If you would like to learn more about how Jesus is our ultimate PainTaker, please join us for this powerful sermon series on Painkillers! Eden Westside Baptist Church in Pell City offers services each Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Or, visit our River Campus in Leeds, right next to the Shops at Grand River at 11:00 a.m. We look forward to seeing you and helping you get close to our Ultimate Painkiller: Jesus!