When having doubts about where you stand with your drug-addicted partner, always remember what the term “relationship” implies. Most people would agree that a healthy adult relationship only has a solid foundation if:
-it’s a two-way relationship most of the time
-it’s built on trust
-your partner makes an effort to better themselves for the relationship
As you can surmise from these three simple bullet points, you can grasp just how hard it is having a relationship with many addicts, especially while they’re currently using. The relationship may temporarily devolve into a one-way relationship while you try to save them from themselves, and this can last days, weeks, months, or years. And it’s only human for this to take a tremendous toll on your mental, physical, and emotional health, as well as shatter any romantic projections you may have initially fantasized about.
Addicts are vulnerable to feeling giant voids that you can quickly fall into with them, if not by using, then just on an emotional frequency.
Therefore, to stay with an addict, it’s absolute crucial you are self-aware about your own emotional landscape and vulnerabilities so you can own your OWN happiness- because there may be MANY days, sometimes in succession, where your needs will NOT be met because your partner is drowning in his or her struggles, trying their best to stay afloat.
This is the reality you’ve currently chosen for yourself. You are dating someone who is unable to achieve balance on their own accord, so how could you expect them to deliver it like a healthy person would in a relationship?
A friend of mine who had also dated an addict once said “if you can’t trust someone when they tell you they’re getting in the car going down to Rite Aid, then you probably aren’t in the right relationship.”
This is true. A relationship can have a ton of love, but it can be absolutely PAINFUL when there’s a very imbalanced ratio of trust to love.
It can be hard to stay, but it can also be harder to leave. So when do you know when you should? When do you throw in the towel despite loving someone with all your heart, simply because their addiction has taken a toll on the relationship? Here are some tips below that can help you if you’re going through an ambivalent time in your head and heart concerning your current relationship:
1. Is there trust? When your partner gets a call or text, do you find yourself getting extremely uneasy? Perhaps you’ve associated the memory of this with them getting texts from drug dealers or just being secretive in general with you. Do you feel worried when they’re running a few minutes late back home? Have you been lied to a number of times that feels like it’s beginning to erode your own sense of self-worth and integrity? If so, you owe it to yourself to take a break or move forward with your life, away from this person. Sure, you can have a relationship with this person, but if you’re looking for a SATISFYING RELATIONSHIP, one that makes you feel safe instead of anxious beyond belief, you should get out.
You should only stay with your drug-addicted partner if they are working towards being more transparent and agree that that’s how you two should connect. As you might already know, it’s extremely difficult to find a “transparent” drug addict that will admit when they’ve relapsed. Their emotional immaturity and underdevelopment is one of the reasons they started off using drugs in the first place, and chances are, drugs have only worsened their emotional issues. On the off chance that you find yourself dating an addict who is in a place of their recovery where they genuinely want to quit and can be candid with you, thus tolerating feelings of shame that may come up for them, then it may still be a worthy investment.
2. Does it feel like it’s usually a two-way relationship? Relationships of course don’t always have a 50/50 golden ratio when it comes to who gets their needs met. In fact, it’s normal for you to have some days where your needs aren’t being met and vice versa, but to not have your needs met weeks and months in a row can cause resentment and strain your bond. Examine if this is the case in your relationship, as it often is with addicts, and see if you can come up with a system to keep the balance intact. Approach this subject matter with your partner carefully though- you don’t want your partner to feel intense shame that they’re “doing something wrong” or “messing up the relationship”, as this can trigger them to relapse.
3. Is your partner making an effort to get or stay clean?
Addicts will usually try to get away with what they can, not for weakness of character, but because of the nature of the condition. It feels inescapable to them. Therefore, a big part of them wanting to get clean is YOU wanting them to get and stay clean. It doesn’t matter if you agree with this or not, this is how it typically is. They typically do not feel enough of a reason within themselves (the nature of co-dependency) to quit, which puts others around them in an awkward position with them always having to dish out ultimatums. A lot of this drama can be cut in half if your partner is at a stage where they declare (and their actions match their words) that they are trying to stay clean.
I know it’s a difficult decision, but in all relationships, drugs or no drugs, there needs to be TRUST. Don’t sell yourself short by putting up with lying, a one-way relationship, or an uncooperative partner. There ARE some addicts that are in a part of their recovery where they CAN offer trust and reciprocity, but take a close look as to where your partner is right now so you can get the fulfillment you also deserve.