The Game of Relationship Hopping

You’re never really single if you relationship-hop.

If I’ve learned one thing from the many (many) relationships I’ve been through, it’s that each one serves a purpose—each one teaches a lesson. Perhaps an even more exciting take is that each relationship prepared me for the ultimately amazing partnership I am in now.

So I’m not here to tell you it’s wrong to have many relationships. But I am here to share with you the limitations unconscious relationship-hopping can have on one’s personal growth and development.

I used to call it “taste-testing.”

Of course I did not taste everyone—ew. But I did view the delectable assortment of men in the world as mysterious mini-Universes still unknown to me, with infinite potential to be “the one.”

So it was my charge to sample the selections, quickly determine if each was indeed my knight in shining armor, and then either fall momentarily in love, or demolish the budding relationship near its inception.

Needless to say, this game offered a rush of love-chemicals—a ride so addicting, I happily fooled myself and others into thinking each valid candidate was “different,” and therefore worth diving deep into relationship with.

Much later in my relationship-hopping life, I came to discover the two predominant roles played out in most romantic relationships of today.

One is the role of the love-drug dealer.

As the love-drug dealer, you are actively in control of the relationship. You may view the other person as weak, unintelligent, or just not quite up to par. And since they’re never quite what you’re looking for, you seek to change them.

You determine what your time together looks like—what you do and when. You determine the depth of connection, because it’s you who is always withholding. You tend to spend a lot of time away from the relationship, and tend to be extremely private or keep secrets from your partner.

In this role, you’re always on the verge of leaving them, and sometimes you do, only to return in a state of desperation, because—let’s face it—the love that person offers you seems totally unconditional, and that alone feeds your need for the acceptance and love human beings crave.

The complex with this role is that the love-drug dealer simultaneously wants two opposing situation with every fiber of their being: to be single and fully free, and to be in their dream partnership with their one true love—their soul mate. This internal push and pull is reflected outwardly and projected onto whatever relationship the love-drug dealer find themselves in. Have you been a pusher of that oh-so-scrumptious drug called love? If not, maybe you’ve found yourself on the other side of this dramatic dance…

This other role is the love-drug addict.

An especially sneaky role, as the love-drug addict you truly believe you are 100% committed to your partner. You give and give and give. You love “unconditionally.” Your love-drug dealer may ask you to change, to accommodate their needs. And so you do. Because you love them.

So why is this role sneaky?

You see, as the love-drug addict, you have tricked yourself into believing you are doing your best, giving all of your love, and truly trying your hardest in the relationship. And you very well may be. The problem is, you picked a partner who didn’t want your love to begin with. So before the relationship even started, you selected a person that wouldn’t be able to receive or reciprocate such undying affection.

The other problem is, you picked a person who craves the doting you offer, and because of this, until you’ve had enough and finally decide done is done, this relationship will persist. You will have to be the one to break it off. And you will, because when you’ve given more than you knew you had to give, you’ll realize that you’ve given yourself. Since the love-drug dealer never really wanted you to begin with, you’ve never felt comfortable being your true self with this person. Ultimately, you’ve sacrificed yourself for them. Humans are not meant to be less than who they truly are, so this relationship dynamic is unsustainable.

Again, the complex for the love-drug addict is that they select unavailable or inappropriate partners from the inception of the relationship. In fact, that’s the only type of person they’re attracted to. Because it is this type of unavailable partner that one can pour love into and walk away guilt-free, knowing they gave the relationship their all.

What defines an unavailable or inappropriate partner, you ask?

The most obvious are large age differences, long distance relationships, married people, or people whom from the get-go very clearly express their desire for nothing too serious.

Something to keep in mind is that everyone can play each role in different relationships. I know I’ve played both many times throughout the years. And it’s possible to actually flip roles throughout a single relationship. But more often than not, people tend towards one role or the other.

Now why do people play these games?

It would seem this kind of drama and pain isn’t worth the love-chemical rush one receives in the beginning of such a dance.

The bottom line is that most people involved in love-drug relationships are uncomfortable with solitude. They fear being alone because they are scared to get to know themselves.

Relationships grown from this pretense are inevitably unfulfilling, because no one can love truly love you until you learn to love yourself.

In the end, drug-love relationships combust due to emotional exhaustion and a desperate desire for authentic partnership.

Which brings me to my next point:

  • This dynamic does not apply to ALL relationships—thank, God.
  • A healthy relationship is balanced in love, input, and energy.
  • A healthy relationship communicates from a place of inner-clarity.
  • A healthy relationship involves complete authenticity from both people in the relationship.

In 2007, I had my last of what I consider to be an unhealthy relationship.

I was on the love-drug addict side of things, and received an especially brutal heartbreak. After a few hours of wailing, I was determined to never feel this way again.

From that moment on, I began to educate myself about relationships, and in doing so sought therapy, cleared blockages, realigned my desires, and eventually stopped activating my love-chemical addiction.

For years, it was in the rare single-state I found my most valuable lessons on relationship. Because it was in this state I was able to tap into my authentic self and be fully me.

From this space I stepped outside the relationship dance. From there it was relatively easy to see beyond the narrow scope of one-on-one relating and witness the patterns holding me from being my best self.

Perhaps more importantly, it became more apparent that how I was with myself determined how others were with me.

Being single gave me the time to build a respectful, loving relationship with myself first.

To top it off, getting out of the game gave me the space and time between relationships to stop carrying over past hurts and projecting old wounds onto whatever relationship came next. I was then able to start clean with lessons learned, digested, and assimilated, before embarking on something new.

Looking back at that transition, I remember my biggest fear about letting go of the emotional rollercoaster ride that so excited my internal and external senses, was that I’d never again feeling such extreme, passionate love.

I was afraid that if I didn’t engage a game with love—having that oh-so-addictive push-pull aspect egging me along—it would be wholly dull experience, void of emotional highs. I had to ask myself if I was willing to sacrifice the highs for the lows. And I was.

Now standing on the other side, in a healthy relationship I define as my “dream come true” romance, I can tell you that when love is rooted in love rather than fear, it is so much deeper, truer, and more fulfilling than any chemical-driven game can offer. Every day is a high. My median emotional bar was raised, and life is simply amazing.

The sooner you stop relationship-hopping and instead tune into what those relationships are seeking to fulfill within your psyche, the sooner you’ll be able to get clear on who you are, and what you really want in your life.

It may be monogamy, it may not.

Either way, the clarity and authenticity will attract your deepest desires, and in turn, deliver your dream-come-true relationship.

You don’t need to continue to chase your dream. You can live it. Now.

Now I’d love to hear from you. Have you found yourself playing the role of the love-drug dealer or the love-drug addict? Or both?

And due to this writing and/or past relationships, what is one thing you have learned that will help guide your romantic relationship decisions in the future?

Let us know in the comments below.

Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing. You are who I’m writing for.


- Emily Rose