You never know who you are going to fall in love with. You may be a party girl with a big group of friends who love to go out every day of the week, yet you may fall hard for an introverted, sober guy who is a recovering alcoholic or drug addict.
If this is the case for you, take heart.
There’s not much that true love can’t overcome, but there are some things you should keep in mind.
“You may have to consider many different factors when your partner is in sobriety,” explained Justin Baksh, licensed mental health counselor and Chief Clinical Officer for Foundations Wellness Center. “If an addict or alcoholic does not put their recovery first, then nothing else will never come to fruition.”
This means that you will need to be understanding when your partner insists on going to an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting instead of out to dinner with you or to your sister’s house for a visit, for instance.
Remaining flexible and understanding seems like a small price to pay for a healthy, sober partner though.
“There is a difference between being selfish in addiction, which is self-destructive, and being selfish in recovery, which is about setting healthy boundaries,” said Baksh. “The best way to help your partner who is sober is to be open and supportive.”
As a result of allowing him the space to do what he needs to do to stay strong in his sobriety, you will in turn have a better partner in life.
Baksh suggested some basics to keep in mind if your significant other has chosen to walk the path of recovery.
- You may have to make some adjustments
Be aware that whether you use or abuse substances yourself, your partner has chosen not to do so anymore. Be mindful that your social use may strain the relationship. Simply having substances or alcohol in your home setting may trigger your partner to want to use. Ask him what might help him…even if that means you are asked to abstain as well.
- Understanding is needed
Avoidance initially might be your partners “go-to” when in social settings or mandated work functions where there is the potential for alcohol consumption.
When he tells you that he may not be able to go with you to your office holiday party featuring an open bar, realize that he is not avoiding you. He may instead be setting up an “out” for a potentially sticky situation.
- Communication and compromise are key
Keeping open lines of communication is critical. Questions of care and support can be received as critical and accusatory when you truly don’t mean them to be. If you have doubts or concerns, just ask your partner what they are comfortable with.
- Don’t expect that all will be smooth sailing, all the time
“Sobriety does not mean perfection!” explained Baksh. “Often times as we humans do in life, we place unrealistic expectations on those around us. That’s the number one way for you to experience failure.”
If you haven’t struggled with a drug or alcohol addiction, realize that, for your sober partner, recovery is a journey, not a destination. Life ebbs and flows and so does the recovery process.
Your partner will have good days and bad days, and, in fact, may even relapse a time or two. This doesn’t mean that he won’t return to sobriety and be able to be a loving partner after doing so.
Of course, the choice to remain with a sober partner is yours to make. It may be helpful to remember that we all have our issues, however.
“Compassion, patience, tolerance, and love are essential to the process of remaining involved with an individual who has chosen to live a life of recovery,” concludes Baksh.
You never know…there will be days when you need some compassion and patience from your sober partner one day!