Drinking Problems And Relationships
Drinking problems have led to many failed relationships. Couples who saw themselves staying together forever end up in an acrimonious breakup. Healthy partnerships become toxic, filled with manipulation, enabling, and codependency.
Recovering alcoholics are often left with the question: how do I pick up the pieces? Now that they're sober, they want to start dating again. But are they ready? How do they make sure that their alcoholism, along with any unhealthy habits they've picked up, doesn’t destroy potential relationships?
If you've found yourself asking these questions, or are in a relationship with an alcoholic, here are some tips for making it work.
Wait, if you can
When you're sober, you want to get your life back on track. It can feel like you've lost a lot of time to alcoholism. Waiting to go back to “normal” isn’t an attractive option.
But if you're not already in a relationship, it is a good idea to wait a bit before dating. This will give you the chance to consolidate your sobriety, as well as rebuild life in a new, healthy mold. You're less likely to fall back into old habits that sabotage your relationships in the past.
There is no right amount of time to wait. Some recommend taking care of a plant for a year and taking care of a pet for another year before you bring a potential partner into your life. But it really depends on the person and their particular characteristics.
If you were in a relationship when you entered treatment, chances are you've already had counseling sessions with your partner. Couples’ (and family) counseling is a crucial aspect of successful treatment.
Regardless of whether you have been in couples’ therapy, it is a good idea to continue going once the treatment program is complete. And when you enter a new relationship, you should discuss whether they are comfortable seeing a counselor. Any new couple can benefit from a bit of guidance in building their relationship on solid grounding. Since your alcoholism may have led you to develop certain habits in the past, this guidance may be the pivotal point on which your relationship succeeds.
Know When it’s Right
Some relationships, unfortunately, may have little hope of success after a member has been in treatment. Habits or codependency built between the two of you may prove impossible to eliminate.
Alternatively, you may find yourself in a new relationship with someone who simply cannot understand your alcoholism. Maybe they've made disparaging statements about addiction and you're scared to tell them about your own. Or maybe they don’t take your alcoholism into consideration, getting drunk around you and putting you in vulnerable situations.
If someone cannot or will not understand your alcoholism, the relationship is not going to work. Ultimately, finding someone who can empathize and be there for you will be best for both of you in the long run.