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Love & Relationships

Emophilia: Are You 'In Love' With Falling In Love?

Listen, when you live in Music City like I do, one way or another, you’re gonna find yourself involved in the music industry, even if it’s just by way of association. However, because I grew up in a music industry home and I got my start as an entertainment writer, the amount of stuff that I learned about artists — lawd.

Take a particular artist, who will remain nameless and who, to this day, is one of the most condescending and patronizing individuals I have ever met. One day, as someone who used to work with them was cosigning on that very point, they brought up an example that is perfect for the direction of today’s piece.


Them: “She was always trying to talk about how young people only have sex on their minds, and she would pray for their obsession with it. When we all told her to be quiet because she basically got married at 12, she shut up real quick.”

I bet she did. It’s real easy to “not understand” what you personally don’t have to deal with. Yeah, I wonder if she had waited until even 25 to get married if she would be preaching the same sermon about sexual sobriety. Ah, and sermon. Yeah, that’s a nice segue, too, because if there is another place that is notorious for being in the pulpit about sexual promiscuity while ironically encouraging singles to be consumed, if not obsessed, with finding a spouse, it’s the Church — well, many churches.

Where am I going with all of this? I ain’t got no lies for you. The Good Book says that the truth is what sets us free (John 8:31-32), and there’s no time like the present to tackle something that is quite relationally rampant and yet, interestingly enough, doesn’t get addressed nearly enough: emophilia.

Never Heard of Emophilia Before? Chile, I’m Not Surprised.

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Back when I was in college, I went to school with someone who was always talking about getting married and who God told her was her husband. Looking back, it’s kind of comical (and sad…yes, both at the same time) to think about just how many men she claimed that was. It’s also kind of buck that, all these years later, she’s had multiple husbands (and yes, she put “God on them” every single time) while enjoying taking digs around the fact that, according to her, my body count is much higher than hers (I’m currently sitting at 14; I never asked what hers was).

Yep, even though it’s been years since I’ve “added a notch” and although she’s had three husbands while I’ve had none, she still thinks that my sexual partners are “worse” than her many husbands. Nevermind the fact that (since she’s bringing God all up in it) Malachi 2:16 says that God hates divorce and, well, I’ll let y’all read I Corinthians 7:10-11 (as far as remarriage goes) — I’ve been more promiscuous, and so she will always find that to be far worse.

Is it, though? Or do a lot of people just not know that, similar to how porn isn’t just about sex because it can also mean an excessive amount of something, promiscuous can also mean “consisting of a number of dissimilar parts or elements mingled in a confused or indiscriminate manner” — and that’s why emophilia is a thing. And just what does it mean exactly? EMOTIONAL PROMISCUITY.

To me, this isn’t anything new (although I used to use a different word for promiscuity here; that’s another message for another time). When you grow up in Church culture, if you’re truly paying attention, you notice that emotional promiscuity is a fever pitch in many congregations. It’s like folks want to get married so badly (or have been programmed to think that they should) that “this guy…no, this guy…oh, my bad, THIS GUY is my husband” — and you’re so used to hearing people say it that you kind of go numb (or at least, develop a deaf ear).

And when you sit and watch how a lot of prophesying (or is it prophe-lying?) plays out, folks approached marriage like their spouse was an ingredient or something — just add a man as you stir him into your fantasy of a long-term relationship — and so they weren’t really prepared for what marriage required. Why? Because they didn’t really love the person; it was more like they were in love with falling in love. And because of that, their marriage became hell, and as a result, they try to go all Flip Wilson (the real ones know) on it with some “the devil made me do it”…when it was more like one of my all-time favorite quotes: “Hell is truth seen too late.” (Thomas Hobbes)

Goodness. Just imagine how much drama and/or pain could’ve been spared if folks were introduced to emophilia — again, emotional promiscuity — as soon as they were taught sexual promiscuity, especially since, again, one definition of promiscuity is putting parts together without any type of order or in a way that causes nothing but chaos and confusion (and won’t that preach)?

Okay, so is emophilia the same thing as being a love addict? Great question. Actually, they’re very similar, although a love addict has a tendency to become very fixated on a person to the point where all of those songs about not being able to breathe or live with someone make all of the sense in the world in their eyes. Love addicts also are the type of people who feel like they don’t have much value unless they are in a relationship.

Emophilia comes from a different angle. These are people who, as one mental health expert put it, like the feeling of falling in love (more on that in a sec) and, because they enjoy the “hit” of it so much, 1) they can think that they met “the one” after just one date; and/or 2) they can easily find themselves feeling this way about multiple individuals, and/or 3) they tend to find themselves attracted to (or caught up in) the wrong types of folks: narcissists and highly-manipulative individuals definitely top the list.

Why? Well, for one thing, they move so fast that their discernment isn’t very keen, and two, they move so fast that they don’t make the time to step back, self-reflect, and heal before getting into a new situation with someone else. To them, they just chalk it all up to their pursuit of love and just move on to the next person — for as long as it takes. And honestly, that is pretty unhealthy. For a few reasons.

Starting with believing that “falling in love” is a responsible approach to love in the first place.

I’ll explain.

“Falling in Love” Isn’t Really a Thing, Though

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I’ve shared in other articles that Albert Einstein once said, “Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.” For the record, I believe the full quote is, “Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do, but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.” What he’s pretty much saying here is you don’t “fall” in love; love is a choice. And I agree.

However, let’s roll this back a bit. To fall is to drop, usually involuntarily. And as much as our culture is totally irresponsible when it comes to the word “love” (for instance, I can’t stand the television show For My Man; they constantly abuse the word. Love doesn’t make us do crazy things. Love doesn’t provoke reckless and violent behavior. Love isn’t criminal. Humans can come up with some very toxic behaviors; it’s not in the name of true love, though), the reality is that love doesn’t happen involuntarily. When you’re speaking of the I Corinthians 13 biblical version of love (love is patient, love is kind, love puts others first, love endures), if you really believe that God is love (I John 4:8&16) and if you think that love is an action and not just a feeling (and it is) — then no, it doesn’t “just happen.” Love is a series of decisions — with words and actions that follow. So no, y’all, you cannot actually “fall in love.”

What you can do is fall into attraction; you can be attracted to someone involuntarily (unintentionally, unconsciously), and sometimes that feeling can be so euphoric that you might be tempted to use the word “love” to define it — yet c’mon: does it even make mature sense to say that you did something as grand and life-altering as LOVE SOMEONE without intention or conscious? To me, that sounds like something a child would say. Give yourself more credit. Give love more credit, too.

And that’s why this part of the article has the heading that it does. It doesn’t matter if a saying is popular (a lot of popular stuff is dead wrong); it matters if it’s correct, and “falling in love” simply isn’t. Do I believe that you can be in love? Yes. Even then, though, not by yourself (check out “Like, Love & In Love: How To Really Know The Difference”); the literal definition of “in” proves that (because in means “with”). Perhaps, if this was stated more, there would be less unhealthy relationships, less divorces, or more folks who took responsibility for who and how they loved instead of chalking it up to just being frivolous and emotional. You deserve better. LOVE DESERVES BETTER.

And that is a huge part of the reason why emophilia is hella problematic. It’s because everything that I just said, bucks it at every single turn. It wants people to think that you can just fall, over and over again, for the wrong people (for you), and you don’t need to take any type of personal accountability for it because…that’s just how love is — that’s just what being in love is like. Emophilia will have you out here being so emotionally promiscuous that you remain in the pattern of confusion by joining parts of yourself to pieces of others…when they simply don’t belong there.

And sadly, because emophilia is such a thing, it will encourage you to fix all of this by “falling in love,” yet again, when the actual thing that you should do is figure out how you became an emophiliac in the first place — so that you can stop “falling in love” and actually walk wisely and soberly into true love instead.

5 Ways to Break Free from Being an Emophiliac

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So what if you saw yourself in at least a part of this and you’re ready to free your own self from emophilia. What should you do? For starters, here are five tips.

1. Take accountability for what got you here. If you are a fan of the “fall in love” phrase, it’s going to take a while to reprogram your mind from thinking that things “just happen” to you when it comes to relationships. So take a moment. Do some real soul-searching and journaling about why you like the concept of falling so much, if you’ve got a pattern that is counterproductive, and what you honestly think that needs to be done on your part. Oh, and if you know that you have an “unhealthy type” that you are drawn to, research their traits too.

2. Do some reading, researching, meditating, and praying about what love actually is. Real talk, this one is a lifelong journey. Just know that if folks even applied the I Corinthians 13 version alone, they would mature in love exponentially. When it comes to love, what I will say for now is love is something that betters your mind, body, and spirit and does not compromise in that way. If you are “loving someone” and you’re not getting these types of results or if your love isn’t making them better…it isn’t love. Attraction, maybe. Elation, perhaps. Love? Nah.

3. See a therapist (or relationship life coach). There are some clients I have who would probably admit that they are an emophiliac (or at least one in recovery) if you asked them. Most of them are single and some of them will randomly make an appointment with me just so that I can share with them what I see from the outside looking in. Listen, there is nothing wrong with seeing a professional if you’re trying to “unlearn to relearn” when it comes to all of this. I applaud it. More folks should.

4. Be abstinent for a while. You know the saying: If you want something different, you have to do things differently. For an emophiliac, all they know is going from person to person or relationship to relationship. You can’t really heal from this type of mindset unless you take some time away from what’s causing it in the first place. A season away from emotional promiscuity will help you to learn how to find other things that can make you feel good — other than a man, a relationship, or “falling in love.” That way, you can know when the love is real instead of the attraction being (potentially) deceptive.

5. CHOOSE. LOVE. I don’t care what this weird ass culture tries to cram down our throats: love doesn’t just happen to us; we choose it. Daily. Married people choose each other. Daily. If you’re dating someone, you are choosing them. Daily. This perspective is what brings integrity into love, longevity into love, and honor back to love.

That said, one thing that comes up when it comes to the topic of promiscuity is “casual” and love deserves so much more than words like “accidental,” “offhand” and “not premeditated.” If you’re going to really love someone, choose it; don’t be promiscuous about it. You deserve better. Love deserves better.

____

For some of you, "emophilia" may be your something new for the day as far as the word. Yet, now that it’s been unpacked, if it’s something that you can relate to, more than just a lil’ bit, there’s no time like right at this very moment to stop being emotionally promiscuous…so that you can learn how to love the right way…the best way…the chosen way.

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Featured image by CoffeeAndMilk/Getty Images

 

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