Dear Charlene: “Is it OK to Jump from Relationship to Relationship?”

Writer and actor Charlene deGuzman answers your questions about love, loss, and loneliness.

Hi everyone! I’m Charlene deGuzman!

I’m a writer and actor in Los Angeles. Some of you may know me as @charstarlene on Twitter, or maybe you’ve heard about my feature film, Unlovable(Now streaming everywhere! Check out the trailer here.)

I’ve teamed up with FLOOD to offer you all advice, support, and hope! Every month I’ll be answering any of your heart’s questions on life, love, happiness, and any of the deepest places in between.

Let me introduce myself. I was depressed at age eleven. I never thought I could ever feel happy or lovable. I spent my whole life trying to escape the pain. My life was a mess until I got fed up and did something about it. And now, as a recovered sex and love addict, I am the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been.

I’m here to listen and help. Ask me anything at hellocharlenedeguzman@gmail.com. Your identity will remain anonymous.

And if you need one-on-one guidance, check out the work I do on charlenejoy.com. I would love to help!


Dear Charlene,

I just heard you on a podcast talking about how you used to jump from relationship to relationship. Before I heard this, I never thought doing that could be a problem. So I guess I’m asking…is it a problem? And why? I’ve never been crazy or anything. I’ve just always preferred being with someone.

Hi! My belief is that there is no one right way to do anything; there are multiple right ways. Everyone has different experiences, different needs, and different things that work for them. So, something that was a problem for me may not be a problem for other people, and vice versa. It’s always my intention to share from my experience—which is only one perspective out of the many out there—just in case it could help someone.

With that being said, yes, I jumped from relationship to relationship for most of my life. I had my first boyfriend when I was thirteen, and was never really alone until I started recovery from love addiction when I was thirty-one. When I didn’t have a boyfriend, I was sleeping with someone who didn’t want to be my boyfriend. When I wasn’t sleeping with someone, I was pursuing someone, longing for someone, and obsessing over someone. And when the high from one person ended, I had someone next in line. A lot of the time, there was even overlap. This is because my world used to revolve around whoever I was in “love” with, and I couldn’t imagine ever being alone. I always wanted to find “The One,” and I believed so many guys were it.

Are you taking the proper amount of time to date, so that each relationship is based on a strong foundation of trust, respect, and intimacy, rather than lust, physical attraction, sex, or fantasy?

It eventually became a problem for me by the time I was thirty, and I realized I was incapable of being alone. All of my worthiness and value had been put on whether a man loved me or not, so without that, I truly did not know how to exist. I know this sounds dramatic and exaggerated, but this really was the case for me: it was unhealthy, I was unwell, and it was textbook love addiction.

I couldn’t leave relationships that were bad for me. Many relationships were on-again, off-again. I constantly went back to exes, because it was better than loneliness. I constantly pursued unavailable people, just so I could get crumbs. And because I was unable to love and take care of myself and my needs, I would self-destruct.

Are you able to go from relationship to relationship without harming yourself and others?

Are you able to go from relationship to relationship without settling or taking crumbs?

Are you taking the proper amount of time in-between each relationship to allow yourself to release, grieve, feel your feelings, reconnect with yourself, and feel good because of you, and not the next person?

Are you taking the proper amount of time to date, so that each relationship is based on a strong foundation of trust, respect, and intimacy, rather than lust, physical attraction, sex, or fantasy?  

What matters is the honest intention behind your relationships. I was coming from a place of emptiness and lifelessness. Needing someone else to fill the void. When I finally decided to get sober from men, the reason why it was so painful was that I was finally meeting my self for the first time. I finally needed to learn how to love myself. I realized that if I couldn’t stand being with myself, why would anyone else?

I realized that if I couldn’t stand being with myself, why would anyone else?

So if you’re entering these relationships feeling whole, if you’ve filled your own void with your own love and nurturing, if you’re taking care of yourself so that it’s your responsibility and not your partner’s, if you aren’t actively codependent, caretaking, or enmeshed, it probably isn’t going to be a problem.

No, none of us are perfect. We all bring our “stuff” into our relationships. But if the real reason you’ve never been alone is because you can’t be alone, it may be a good opportunity to take a look at why that is. As difficult and painful tending to ourselves can be, it’s the most important, worthwhile thing you could ever do for yourself, your relationships, and all areas of your life. Avoiding, escaping, and running away doesn’t make the pain go away. But tending to it, loving it, and embracing it will lighten, expand, and fulfill your life in ways that no partner ever fully could. FL

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