Breaking the cycle of relationship dependency: Don’t call it love (BOOK REVIEW)

Do you jump from one bad relationship to another? Do you stay in unhealthy relationships just so you wouldn’t have to be alone? Is there a way out? We review this book to help you see the patterns of relationship dependency, here.

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It was a natural partnership for Dr. Gregory L. Jantz and Dr. Tim Clinton to co-author a book about relationship dependency, given the fact that for years they both have counseled people who experience difficulty in their relationships.

In fact, relationship dependency is a lot like addiction. How? In “Don’t Call It Love: Breaking the Cycle of Relationship Dependency these two experts explain the patterns of relationship dependency. Not only do they suggest how you can start to recover from it, they teach you how to start to find and build healthy relationships with others…from a healthy place.

We invite you to continue reading this review to learn more about the basics of relationship dependence that are covered in this book. If you like it, here you can find Don’t Call It Love and download to read. Your questions and feedback are welcomed in the comments section at the end of the page.

Where does relationship dependency come from?

According to the book, many things can be the cause for relationship-dependent behavior. But, as Dr. Jantz and Dr. Clinton explain, “the heart of relationship dependency is fear”. When you find yourself in situations where you feel like you are your own worst enemy, fear arises! In relationship dependency or codependency it is usually the fear of:

  • abandonment
  • emptiness
  • exposure
  • insignificance
  • losing connection
  • losing security
  • loss of control
  • not being enough
  • rejection

When feelings of fear arise, dependent people will try to outrun that fear instead of stopping and thinking rationally. The reaction is similar to other types of addiction, such as alcohol, drugs, prescription pills, shopping, eating, gambling, internet…whatever will keep you from being alone with yourself is welcome when you are addicted.

In codependent relationships, the fear of not being loved and being alone drives you to reach out for your partner to complete you, to fill up the void. And you, as a dependent person, will do whatever is needed to keep that relationship going regardless of whether it is harmful or not.

Dependent relationship cycles

This book helped me realize one very important thing: Relationship-dependent people are lonely and crave relationships because they do not like the person they are alone with – themselves.

Only by realizing how you tend to move from one to another unhealthy relationship, you will see your addictive relationship pattern. Also, your acting-pattern is a thinking-pattern, and you need to realize that the key person in each relationship is you. The authors have identified eight distinct phases in which the cycle of relationship dependency generally evolves:

  • the search phase
  • the attraction phase
  • the relief phase
  • the anxiety phase
  • the denial phase
  • the escalation phase
  • the switching phase
  • the withdrawal phase

The point is that by perhaps recognizing yourself in these patterns, you will finally see the truth and change your behavior or seek help from professionals.

What contributes to relationship dependency?

In the parts of “Don’t call it love” that tackle the concepts of past abuse, Dr. Jantz and Dr. Clinton define emotional abuse as a pattern of behavior that involves words, actions, or inactions specifically designed to eat away another person’s sense of self. Moreover, emotional abuse has a generational power, which is also explained in detail in this book. Emotional abuse makes a person feel small and incompetent, and that person will grow to be a dependent person who will need others to love him/her in order to feel validated.

Spiritual abuse, on the other hand, involves the lies you are told about God, and how those lies are paraded as truth to manipulate and control others. Basically spiritual abuse happens any time a person usurps the power and authority of God to harm another person or to promote self at the expense of another. Many manipulative people can misuse the Scripture to make you feel not good enough as a human compared to the God, and may even use their own interpretations of passages in the Scripture to spiritually abuse you.

Is there a way to break the relationship dependence cycle?

Let’s look at an analogy with alcohol addiction. When an alcoholic is faced with a difficult or unpleasant situation, their retreat and safe-place is drinking. For an alcoholic to recover, they have to change their thought pattern, so they can change the way they behave which spins them in a circle. So, alcohol needs to be viewed as a poison, NOT as a promise.

Same goes for relationship dependency.

In order to break out of the damaging cycle of ongoing relationships, you will need to learn how to deal with life without seeking a partner to support you, prove that you’re lovable, to lead you through life, and make you feel significant. But, it is not expected for you to just realize this and then suddenly change. There are structured therapies that aid you on your way to becoming free of the bonds of unhealthy relationships.

Closing thoughts

When reading “Don’t Call It Love”, you may come to the realization that you yourself are relationship-dependent in many ways. Page by page, I could identify people in my life and their relationships I have observed that would definitely fall into the relationship-dependent category. Many of them, I am sure, are not even aware of their dependent way of acting (for them it’s normal and usual).

Here, you will have a chance to get to the bottom of how people dependent on relationship feel, what fuels and feeds their behavior, what may be the cause for the relationship-dependent behavior in the first place, how emotional and spiritual abuse contribute to relationship dependence and finally …how you can break out of the cycle.

Quitting relationship dependency questions

Whether you are someone who has recognized the patterns of relationship dependency in your own life, or in the life of someone close to you, or you are a professional looking for more insights, this book can help you greatly. Not only is it highly well-written, but it is very easy to understand. Plus, it includes a lot of examples, check-lists, and facts that you can use to identify what aspects of your relationships are showing signs of unhealthy dependence.

In the end of “Don’t Call It Love: Breaking the Cycle of Relationship Dependency” you will find a twelve-week personal recovery plan to get you started.

About the authors:
Gregory L. Jantz, PhD, is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than thirty books, including Controlling Your Anger Before It Controls You and Hope and Healing from Emotional Abuse. He is the founder of A Place of Hope ( in Washington State, and hosts a popular radio program, Overcoming with Dr. Jantz. A frequent guest on various radio and TV shows, Jantz is also a regular columnist for the Huffington Post.
Dr. Tim Clinton, EdD (at The College of William and Mary) is president of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), executive director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies, professor of counseling and pastoral care at Liberty University and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, and a licensed professional counselor. He is the coauthor of the Quick-Reference Guide to Counseling series of books from Baker Books and lives in Virginia.
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Ivana helps moderate Addiction Blog by providing helpful comments and suggestions to our readers. She is also an optimist and a dreamer. Ivana is inspired by books, travels, conversations and people and we are so grateful to have her on our team.
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