Skip to main content

5 Reasons Relationships Hurt

Nothing gives happiness like a good relationship.

Nothing gives pain like a bad one.

Love seems to craft as many injuries for its participants as it does comforts. No wonder so many harden to cynicism. The wounds that love gives can occur in the context of any relationship be it one of romance, friendship or family.


In my experience, there are at least five reasons why relationships often bring heart ache.

Love is rarely mutual. We are hurt because the person we love does not love us back as much or as well. You wholeheartedly pour yourself into the friendship, the family relationship or the romance but all your efforts are only met with half-hearted responses. We expect them to reciprocate - and occasionally they do give back. But not always. You long for them to be as excited about you as you are over them. You hope if you keep giving extravagantly into the relationship their heart will change. But it doesn’t always.

Love is painful when those we love suffer. If we pour ourselves into someone else, then when they are unhappy, then so are we. If someone you care about deeply is in a pit, there is a limited degree to your own happiness. Many mothers are only ever as happy as their most unhappy child. If the one you love suffers, inevitably you will suffer with them. There is only one way to protect yourself from this empathetic pain: stop loving people.

Love is not always given for who we are. It’s painful to find out that the one who has been giving you attention does not do so for your own sake. They want something out of the relationship. Money, sex, favours, etc. It is not unconditional love they give you as a person. They want something you have. Experiencing this can leave you jaded and suspicious of future relationships. This is why some of the most successful, prettiest, and richest people can also be some of the most lonely.

Love is often hindered. The love you desire to extend to someone can fail to reach its target. Sometimes it’s due to your own sin, pride, neglect or laziness. Perhaps the one you love has put up walls. Occasionally it's too little time or too much distance. External obstacles - familial or cultural pressures - can be a hindrance to our love's expression. 
Or ignorance. At times, I find myself asking a loved one, ‘How can I be a better friend to you?’ or ‘What can I do - as your husband - to show my love?’  There are moments when expressing our love can seem as difficult as getting a lake to pass through a straw.

Love dies. Think of your favourite relationships. Sooner or later they will end. Sin will ruin it, distance will make it too hard to maintain, or death will simply take one of you. The relationship which brings you so much joy will one day end.

I speak often of the necessity of pursuing deeper friendships on this blog, but please don’t be naïve. For though relationships will build you up, they will also break your heart. The only two places where you are safe from the lacerations of love is in heaven and in hell. But on earth, there are dangers. Here we are like birds whose wings have been clipped: we can live, but not very well.

It is this ache which drives some into pornography addiction. I once heard a woman say,‘I find it despicable when men look at internet porn. It’s such an animal thing to do.’ Despicable? Yes. Animal? No.

Animals would never do such a thing. Porn addiction is a tragically human phenomenon. The flirtatious smile of the cyber stripper is the salt water given to a human who is dying from thirst - thirst for affection. The man who surfs the internet for porn may be surfing for a love this world cannot give.

This is ache for love is the hunger for a meal we’ve yet to eat, the longing for a caress we’ve never experienced. Occasionally I experience the refreshment love can provide from the brooks here in the valleys. At moments, those tastes can even be intoxicating. But something inside me wants to ascend to the mountaintop to find the headspring from where the love flows - strong and undiluted by toxins. 

That is where our true home lies. That is the place we have always been meant for and the place which Jesus had in mind when he said to us, ‘I go away to prepare a place for you and when I come back I will receive you to myself so that where I am you can be with me.’

In this life, we will never have the fully satisfactory relationships we hunger for. We make a dumb idol out of those relationships when we try to squeeze from them a love they can never give. It is often those relationships that Jesus calls us to lay down so that we can better follow him. In the world to come, all natural affections will be raised up again in far greater glory - but only if we let them be buried first.

In Christ, everything painful about relationships will one day be no more. Everything wonderful about them will only be richer - for we will be in an ocean of perfect love.

Check out our new book  Elijah Men Eat Meat


Popular posts from this blog

Dear Pro-Gay Christian Friend

[Response to the letter Dear Non-Affirming Christian]
Dear Pro-Gay Christian Friend,

Thank you for taking the time to write me. Sadly, it seems you misunderstand why I met with you for coffee. Please let me explain my motives by defining the words in my salutation above. Would this be too terrible a way to go about it?
Let’s start with ‘friend’ shall we? You rightly question this term as an accurate description of our relationship. For now, let's simply say I mean it as an expression of goodwill. But we will return to it again at the end of the letter.
Then there's this term, 'pro-gay'. By this, I don't mean your personal sexual urges. There have historically been―and are today―countless godly leaders in the church who have deep sexual and romantic attractions to people of the same gender. In spite of their desires, they remain celibate and teach orthodox views of gender and marriage. In your letter, you repeatedly refer to me as a ‘non-affirming Christian’, but I affi…

Jezebel: Our Whorable Queen

[Extract from the bookElijah Men Eat Meat]

Ahab married Jezebel, then he proceeded to worship Baal.’ -1Kg 16
Queen Jezebel is a Baal-snogging, fake-teaching, boob-flaunting, pride-marching, man-manipulating, Yahweh-blaspheming, prophets’ blood-drinking monstrosity of a female.
And that’s being nice.
This daughter of Ethbaal, the Phoenician King, grows up surrounded by power, education, luxury, and evil. Of course, she doesn’t think of it as evil. No one sees their culture’s sins for what they are. It is like air to a child or water to a fish: it’s so much a part of us that we don’t even know it is there. She thinks her culture is the rule by which others should be measured. Yes, Israel is used to being surrounded by pagan neighbours and their debauched royalty. But now we have a problem. The problem is that this ghoulish gal now has a throne in the midst of God’s holy nation. It’s one thing for a boat to be in the sea. It’s quite another thing for the sea to be in the boat. And the nati…

Driscoll Returns, ‘Christian Today’ Melts.

Sometimes in the course of events, a peculiar thing happens that then triggers a response more peculiar still. This is what we now see with the return of Pastor Mark Driscoll to the church scene.
For those unfamiliar with the drama, Mark Driscoll was a church planter and Bible teacher who made a big impact in the least churched city in the USA: Seattle. Thousands professed faith in Christ through his ministry. But he left the church that he had started under dark circumstances. No, it wasn’t adultery as is so often the case with some of these big-name preachers. Rather, it was heavy-handed leadership―resulting in many spiritually crushed church members―that drove him to resign.
Now, three years later, he is leading a new church and many are downloading his sermons once again. This is not without some valid controversy―for reasons we’ll mention soon. But what is most noticeable is not his peculiar return. It is the reaction among those who lean left of classical Christian teaching: the …