Being in love with an alcoholic can truly feel like the rock bottom of the messiest of relationships. You are constantly torn between being there for them and looking after your own needs. This tussle of whether to stay and fight their fight or move on and reclaim your life can be overbearing.
Anyone who has ever been in love with – and lived with – an alcoholic knows that their struggles end up affecting you deeply. You inevitably find yourself facing the consequences of their actions. For no fault of yours, you are consumed with an unshakable sense of guilt and responsibility.
Knowing where to draw the line and when to give up on an alcoholic is essential to prevent your own life from spiralling out of control. Unfortunately, these are the two things most people in relationship with addicts struggle the most with.
If you’re in love with an alcoholic, find out how you can empower yourself by changing your attitude and approach toward your relationship.
Is It Possible To Love An Alcoholic?
If your partner is a compulsive and heavy drinker and that tendency has started affecting your life negatively, there is little doubt that you’re dating an alcoholic. Rather than deny this reality, you must focus on ascertaining is it possible to love an alcoholic.
No matter how much in love you may be today, it is impossible to build a healthy relationship with an alcoholic. Primarily because their prime focus will always be alcohol. Getting their next bottle, getting drunk and repeating it all over again. This can lead to deep-seated toxicity in your relationship.
Related Reading: Living With an Alcoholic Father
Even if you make the relationship last, it certainly won’t be a functional one. Some of the reasons why it is not possible to love an alcoholic are:
The one constant that an alcoholic can bring to a relationship is instability. You make plans to go to a party, take a vacation or a simple dinner, and your addict partner can turn the whole thing on its head by getting too inebriated. Worse still, they may be too incapacitated to go with you.
You have a big presentation the next day and you’re forced out of your bed at 2 am to bring your partner home from hospital or jail. Or you invite your friends over and your partner gets too drunk and creates a scene.
You see how every aspect of your life can get derailed when you’re in love with an alcoholic. There is no way you can build a healthy relationship or a good life for yourself in such circumstances.
2. The perils of co-dependency
Where addiction exists, co-dependency follows. There is no other way the non-alcoholic partner can survive in such a dysfunctional relationship. To cope with all the instability and toxicity, you start covering up for your alcoholic partner’s actions. In the bargain, unwittingly enabling their behavior.
And a vicious circle is set into motion. Over time, this co-dependency take a toll over your self-confidence and self-esteem. You can no longer tell whether you love the person or are with them because you have lost the ability to identify your feelings and the will to make decisions for yourself.
So, it’s not just a question of is it possible to love an alcoholic but also is it worth being in love with an alcoholic. You need to think long and hard about this life choice.
3. Abuse warrants that you give up on an alcoholic
Abuse, be it verbal, physical or sexual, is rampant in relationships where one partner suffers from alcohol use disorder (AUD). Suffering abuse from the person you are in love with can break you. There is simply no justification for this act.
If you’re suffering abuse owing to your partner’s addiction, know that you can reach out to the abuse helpline. It is natural to feel afraid of leaving a person who displays abusive tendencies. Constant abuse can also break your sense of self to an extent that you start believing that you do not deserve to be treated with respect. But with the right help, you can – and should – turn over a new leaf.
4. Is it possible to love an alcoholic when your trust is broken?
Your alcoholic partner may lie. They may steal. They cannot live up to their promises. You cannot rely on them for anything. When these things happen on a loop, trust issues seep into your relationship.
Is it possible to love an alcoholic when your trust has been broken over and over again? Most definitely not. As long as they don’t seek help and get sober, this pattern will not change. How can you then hope to have a thriving, healthy relationship?
5. Is it even love?
You may give yourself a thousand reasons why none of these red flags matter. Perhaps, you believe that you love them too much to leave. Or that being in a difficult relationship is better than being alone. Maybe you have decided to stay to honor the vow of ‘for better or for worse’.
Without a doubt, the choice to stay or give up on an alcoholic partner is yours and yours alone. However, the next time you’re reflecting on this choice, think about is it even love when:
- You get no respect, care and support from your partner
- You’re jeopardizing your safety by tolerating abuse
- The risk of emotional, sexual and financial infidelity looms large
- You have had to isolate yourself from other important relationships
- You’re in a relationship fraught with stress, anxiety and guilt
Related Reading: 8 Ways You Can Help Your Partner Get Over Drug Addiction
Why An Alcoholic Cannot Love You Back?
You may be in love with an alcoholic, despite all their limitations and shortcomings. Does your partner love you back? It can hard to view the situation dispassionately when you’re already dealing with so many complications in your personal life, day in and day out.
But take stock you must, to gain a realistic perspective of the future of your relationship with someone who suffers from alcohol addiction.
One of the reasons why an alcoholic cannot love you back is because their first – and only – love is the bottle. This leads to a host of other behavioral issues:
- An alcoholic cannot prioritize their relationship, even if they want to. Their compulsion to get their next fix and stay inebriated takes precedence over everything else in their life. If it comes to choosing between you and that bottle, they will choose the latter without flinching. That’s why an alcoholic cannot love you back
- Your partner may start viewing your interjections and efforts to stop them from drinking as an aggravation. In a majority of cases, this can lead to abuse and violence. Anyone inflicting physical or mental pain on another person cannot possibly be in love.
- To keep their partner around, an alcoholic may isolate them for voices of reason in their life. Before you know it, your world has shrunk to just you and your partner. They may tell you that it is because you’re enough for each other. In reality, they’re operating from a place of selfishness and not love.
- You may feel pressured into reciprocal drinking to cope with an alcoholic partner and the myriad problems that come with such a relationship. Dragging another person’s down is definitely not an act of love.
- When inebriated, an alcoholic may sleep around or even get into affairs. They won’t hesitate to fleece you for money or blatantly steal from you if that’s what they need to do to keep their supply of alcohol running. Can a relationship infested with lies and cheating be based on love?
8 Things You Need To Know If You’re In Love With An Alcoholic
Getting the necessary help and sobering up is solely your partner’s prerogative and responsibility. You can neither make that choice for them nor make them go through the process unless they’re willing to. But what you can do is regain control of your life by changing your outlook toward this relationship.
To do that, here are 8 things you need to know if you’re in love with an alcoholic:
1. Stop feeling guilty
Blaming their partner or people around them or their circumstances when called out for their tendencies to drink too much is typical addict behavior.
‘I drink because you’ve made my life a living hell.’
‘If only you didn’t nag me so much, I’d have given up drinking.’
When you hear these things over and over again, a part of you may start believing them too. Don’t go down that path. Save yourself from the guilt trips and sleepless nights by reminding yourself that your partner suffers from a medical condition.
There is nothing you can do to aggravate it or make it better. They’re going to drink no matter what the circumstances, as long as they don’t seek help.
Related Reading: My Husband Was A Sex Addict And Kept Me Locked Up In The Bedroom
2. Don’t cover up for them
We circle back to the issue of co-dependency and enabling behavior because these are the most toxic repercussions of being in love with an alcoholic. Typically, a person with alcohol addiction doesn’t want the reality of their situation to become public knowledge. For two reasons – the stigma and shame attached to it, and the fear that people who find out about their addiction may try to help.
As their partner, they’d expect you to get in on this little secret of theirs and keep it that way. They may ask you to make excuses for them if they’re too incapacitated to attend work or keep up a social commitment. Or cover up for any inappropriate behavior on account of too much alcohol as a one-time thing.
Remember that by doing this, you’re not helping them but only enabling their alcoholic tendencies even more. An honest and open approach is the best way to deal with a partner’s addiction.
3. You cannot cure your partner’s addiction
Alcoholism, referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD) in medical terms, is a progressive and chronic disease. Unless you are a trained medical professional, you can’t treat it. So, don’t assume that responsibility.
Quitting cold turkey can have devastating effects on the health of the person who’s used to drinking heavily. The side effects can range from blackouts to seizures and even death in extreme cases. The road to recovery requires the guidance and support of an addiction counsellor.
What you can do is learn about what the journey to sobriety looks like and the different stages your partner is likely to go through, if and when, they choose to get clean. This way, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the changes in their personality. As well as support them to get and stay sober.
4. Nor can you control it
Watching the person you’re in love with destroying their life and health with drinking can leave you stressed and distraught. As a result, many people try to pressure their alcoholic partners into quitting drinking. Unfortunately, this approach never works.
It’ll only make your partner distant and aloof. If an addict knows that their drinking is going to invite your ire, they will either start drinking secretively or use anger and violence to silence you into submission. As hard as it may be to accept, the best approach in this situation is to do nothing at all.
An addict has to hit the rock bottom before they accept they have a problem and need help.
5. Let them face a crisis
When you’re in love with an alcoholic, it becomes your natural instinct to try and protect them. Even, save them from themselves. However, this is just another manifestation enabling their problematic behavior. Don’t become the crutch that helps an alcoholic get by the crises in their life.
If your partner gets a DUI or is taken into custody for getting into a fight or gets fired from their job, let them handle these consequences of their actions. It can be extremely difficult to stand by and watch your partner struggle to sort out the mess that their life is turning into. This is an essential step in the path to recovery.
So, let things spiral out of hand. Tell your partner that they are on their own. Only then can you hope that they make the resolve to sober up.
6. Keep your expectations realistic
‘Excessive drinking is perilous. It needs to stop.’ You may find yourself thinking, to a point of frustration, why cannot your partner understand such a simple thing. But you have to understand that what seems to be a simple straight expectation for you can be a challenge for your partner.
They cannot will away their dependency on alcohol. So, even if your partner promises that they will stop drinking and even follow through on that promise for a few days, don’t get your hopes up. They will relapse. The drinking will resume. Getting help from the right resources such as Alcoholics Anonymous, an addiction counsellor, a de-addiction center or a rehab is the only way to recover from AUD.
Related Reading: 5 Ways Drug Addiction Affects Relationships
7. Don’t put up with unacceptable behavior
Addiction can lead to a lot of troublesome behavioral tendencies in the affected person. From blame-shifting to accusations, stealing, lying, cheating, anger and abuse – the spectrum is really wide. When you’re dealing with these traumatizing experiences, it is only natural to wonder why an alcoholic cannot love you the way you love them.
No matter how much you love and care for your partner, remember that you do not have to tolerate any unacceptable behavior from them. No relationship is worth your self-esteem and safety.
By tolerating the onslaught of their toxicity, you are only emboldening their problematic tendencies.
8. You too need help
If you have been dealing with an alcoholic partner and all the problematic paraphernalia that comes with it, reaching out for help can seem daunting. The first step is to acknowledge that your life with an alcoholic is taking a toll on you. Then, resolve to turn thing around at least for yourself.
Al-Anon is a great source of support for the family and loved ones of alcohol addicts. Sharing your thoughts, struggles and limitations with others who’ve similar experiences can be an empowering and life-changing experience. It’ll help you see the future possibilities more clearly.
If you being in love with an alcoholic has taken a toll on your mental well-being, consider taking help from a professional counsellor. With the option of electronic counselling, help is not only affordable but also just a click away.
Related Reading: Rejected by her alcoholic father because I was an addict too
When to give up on an alcoholic?
If living with an addict is challenging, the prospect that you may have to give up on an alcoholic partner can be even more unnerving. As tough as the decision may seem, it’s one that you may have to take at some point for the sake of your safety, sanity and well-being.
Here are some circumstances that warrant you give up on an alcoholic partner and move on:
- Their addiction has started impacting you negatively. Some of the clear signs of this include: You’re suffering from anxiety, depression or PTSD. Their addiction gets in the way of your professional or social life. You are developing addiction issues. There are financial troubles in your life. You are neglecting self-care
- All you get from your partner is a trail of broken promises but they show no intent to get help and stop drinking
- When drunk, your partner poses a risk to your safety or their own. Drunk driving, getting into fights, displaying violent or abusive tendencies with you
- Being in love with an alcoholic has rendered you incapable of taking care of yourself and your family
- You are in the relationship out of fear of what they might to do you if you decide to leave
- Physical, emotional or sexual abuse has become so commonplace that you’ve accepted it as a way of life
Loving an alcoholic and building a life with them can be debilitating. Always bear in mind that you’re not obligated to stay. It’s not selfish to give up on an alcoholic who shows no promise of change. Your well-being and happiness trump your relationship. Always and every time.