Dating my now ex-boyfriend this year was filled with ups and downs, but despite breaking up, I was left with a plethora of insight about relationships in general. The specific issues we dealt with in pursuing his sobriety left me with these lessons:
1. You know the quote “You can’t change anyone, you have to love and accept them for who they are.” This makes sense on the surface, but how can you apply this when your partner is choosing to self-destruct every day and put both of your lives at risk? Unfortunately, this is where it gets complicated. You want to “accept” someone for who they are but set firm boundaries as to what you’ll accept as fair or unreasonable in the relationship.
2. You can’t make your partner out to be the “bad one” in the relationship, even if at the time, their actions are actually terribly irresponsible, selfish, destructive, and even dangerous. You have to see the bigger picture and understand that some years in the relationship, they may be the one struggling, but other years in the relationship, you may be the one “causing problems”. If you shame your partner, it rarely motivates them to change. This is especially true for addicts. You have to choose your words very carefully and call out the behavior, not their character. This is assuming you’re really set on making your relationship work.
3. You need to remember the positive. This can be difficult if you feel there’s always drama or undesirable behavior going on in your relationship, but if you practice being positive, it can help you flourish in other areas of your life as well. Sure, it sucks your partner is an addict. At some point, you have to accept it, leave their recovery in THEIR hands, and move on to other things in the relationship. Don’t get hung up on the things they have yet to work on.