Note: This isn’t a “how-to” date an alcoholic. Generally speaking, relationships will have their ups and downs, but choosing to be committed and to build a life with a recovering alcoholic will affect your life tremendously. You will get hurt, but that doesn’t mean it has to stop you from being your best self and living the life you want.
My therapist told me that I had to rethink this relationship and see if I was willing to go down this road of hurt. I was ignorant to what this road would look like and I was already into deep with the man I love. I chose to stay.
Advice: Now, I would say to people to not get involved with someone who is an alcoholic and who doesn’t wish to recover, and I would say to be weary of those who are beginning to and struggling with recovery. The latter half is where I fall.
But, I believe that relationships are life lessons. Things aren’t going to be perfect and happy all the time. It is a chance to learn and grow. This mindset definitely helps me.
Here is my Road with Joe:
- First Dates: Our first two dates were great, I think he had mentioned to me on our first date that he was recovering from alcohol, but this just flew over my mind and I had little to no thought because I had no idea what that entailed.
- First RED FLAG: I believe it was our third date, and I had texted him letting him know that I was ready to meet up. From him: nothing. I was so upset and I tried calling him, but the phone only rang. No answer. Eventually he got back to me around 3 am. He had passed out from drinking. This should’ve been the turning moment for me, but Joe was so sincere in his apology and he had told me that it wouldn’t happen again. I believed him. You may be thinking how stupid I was to believe it, but I do have self love issues and I wanted so badly to have someone love me. If that same thing had happened though, I would be ready to let go. Well, that never happened again, but we had different issues relating to alcohol.
- First Month: After that event, we had spent every day with each other. Literally. We couldn’t get enough of each other and we didn’t want to lose a moment before I had left for Cambodia. This also prevented him from drinking at all, so he was sober for a month. Mind this: it wasn’t healthy either way. I believe I was used as a replacement to alcohol.
- Second Month: I had left to Cambodia and this is when most of our problems began. He started drinking again. We fought so much and mostly about me drinking in a different country. I had felt he was controlling and he had felt that I wasn’t considerate of his feelings. I stood by my beliefs though. I didn’t want to fall victim to a controlling boyfriend. He’s a nasty drunk. He gets angry real quick and isn’t a nice person to speak to if he’s upset. When I came back, we fought about it and we finally decided to put aside. He still believed though that I wasn’t considerate and I felt he was controlling, but none of this was said and I would soon find it to blow up in our faces. He stopped drinking for about a week or two upon my return and then had to be hospitalized for withdrawal symptoms. My grandmother had just died and when he was hospitalized, I had a breakdown. Again, another promise that he will try his best not to drink. My take, I wanted so much to believe him, but I told him that I would break up with him if he did because I couldn’t handle being in a relationship with an alcoholic.
- Third – Fifth Month: About 3 months of sobriety and everything was bliss between me and Joe. He started working at a good job too. I had also made sure to only see him once to three times a week to ensure that I keep a healthy balance of my social life and of my me time. I saw myself marrying him if we continued to progress forward. But, I knew that one day a relapse would happen. I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. A few days ago, Joe had relapsed and he was so embarrassed he had lied to me that he didn’t. We had fought about the issue that I drank in Cambodia. I was so upset with him and I knew what he was doing was unhealthy and I had a gut feeling that he had drank. He was mean. I stopped replying to his messages. I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to be with him, but at the same time I didn’t want to lose him. After a few days of solitude, we decided to talk. Before we met in person though, he had apologized for the way he acted, but I wasn’t having it. He told me the truth. He did drink. He told me that he would be serious about recovery, but I told him that this is going to keep on happening, and he had already told me that he was going to be serious. But, I also couldn’t live with the consequence that I was to break up with him. We also finally resolved the issue about Cambodia and me drinking. We were able to really speak about this in a healthy way.
- Now: In the end, I told him that I really have no idea what to do, but I obviously haven’t left. I also mentioned that I do want him and I will support him as best as I can, but the alcohol cannot affect us. If he relapses, he can’t involve our relationship. (This may be unrealistic of me to expect, but it’s the only way I can deal with it at the moment) I also made it clear that if I feel like enough is enough, I’ll let him know. Right now, he’s planning to attend AA meetings once a week and I will go with him too if he needs the support. Objectly, I see that this is unhealthy, but below I’ve written what I do to ensure that I love and take care of myself first. Also, I would like to note that my boyfriend is also amazing and is truly working hard to the path of recovery and he understands that I do have to take care of myself and if things continue to repeat, he thinks too that it is best I shouldn’t stay in the relationship.
Tips to Dating a Recovering Alcoholic:
- Have Boundaries: Create boundaries that ensure the well-being of your physical and mental self.
- You must be able to say no without feeling guilty. Although Joe had felt that I didn’t consider his feelings when I drank in Cambodia, I didn’t feel guilty for not complying with his wishes. I knew I wasn’t abusing the alcohol and I was there to have a good time, so I ensured that I continued to make the choices for me.
- You feel safe to express your thoughts and emotions. I was able to tell Joe that I was afraid of him when he drank. I was also able to express that I had felt he was being controlling. He understood me and didn’t say I was wrong for feeling the way I felt.
- Not feeling responsible for your partner’s happiness. Although you can be a loving and supporting partner, it isn’t up to you to fix your partner’s life. You shouldn’t be telling what your partner should do to recover. Also if you end up breaking up with your partner, you aren’t responsible if they take up drinking again. It is their choice.
- Be responsible for your happiness. If you’re miserable for the majority of your relationship and you’re hoping that your partner would change and make it better, you’re putting your happiness into someone else’s hands.
- Don’t allow your partner to abuse you. If they hurt you physically, leave them. If they hurt you emotionally, leave them.
- Talk About It With Your Partner: Don’t leave your thoughts and emotions unspoken. Discuss with your partner your boundaries and see what your partner’s plan of action toward recovery is. This allows both partners to be on the same page. Make sure you don’t use key terms that are condemning. If your partner truly wants to recover then they are probably already beating their self up and are hurting just as you are.
- Support Your Partner: Your partner is just as human as you are. If they are on the path of recovery, they are on the path to their best self, so support them on their endeavors. Make time to go to AA meetings with your partner. If you’re at a party with your partner, don’t drink. If they are learning how to cope without alcohol, be there for them during their tough times. Remember though to balance your life. If you find that supporting your partner is a lifetime job, you’re enabling your partner to depend on you. This is just as unhealthy.
- Make Time to Love Yourself: As long as you can love yourself, you’ll be able to keep your boundaries and ensure that you are on your path to your best self. So make sure to spend time alone and away from your partner. Do things that make you happy: go for that hike, take a class that you’re interested in, go on that trip to Europe. Make sure to dress up even if you’re going out to run errands by yourself. Make you feel beautiful for you. If you can make yourself happy, you know that you aren’t dependent on your partner’s love and are able to leave the relationship if it crosses your boundaries.
Remember, you are not obligated to stay in this relationship, if you know it’ll be an endless cycle of hurt, leave. You deserve to be treated with love and respect. You deserve happiness.