I remember what it was like to be in love with an addict. In my case he was wanting to quit, and I was going to help him. Of course I didn’t know how bad it was. Like most addicts, he minimized or denied most of what he was doing. I believed him because I’m an honest, trusting person. I got caught up in a rollarcoaster of happiness and disappointment. I became addicted to wanting to save him. Leaving the relationship was nearly impossible at first. It took several tries, great friendship support and few counseling sessions to get me to finally leave.
I hope to give some good insight to those who may still be struggling in this type of relationship today. First, the hook. I believe people who are addicts have learned or already have a natural tendency to be excellent liars. I got into the relationship under false pretenses. He led me to believe he only smoked occasionally. This made sense because at first he seemed ambitious and fun to be around. He had goals, was getting his Master’s Degree and seemed to have a very loving family who lived down south. I didn’t realize how much I was being manipulated. I really did believe that he liked me and wanted to be drug free. I also didn’t realize how long, how often, how much, and how many different types of drugs he was using. I was sucked in by the lies.
After a few months I became familiar with his mood swings. When he was depressed he would tell me how much he needed me and that I was the reason he wanted to do better in his life. It is easy to see through all that crap now, but at the time I needed to hear that from someone. I realize now that if my self-esteem had been stronger, I probably wouldn’t have fell so hard for his lines. When he was happy, it was so great to be around him. He would stay drug free for a week, maybe two and I would get my hopes up. Then the depression and the admission that he had yet again slipped back into old habits. Little did I know how much he was using behind my back as well. He was good at hiding it. I was also naive and didn’t realize all the signs I would notice today.
I see very clearly now how my weaknesses, not just his, played into this whole relationship. For a long time I blamed him for everything. I didn’t want to admit that I was co-dependent. I was finally able to admit the reason I stayed around so long is because I felt empty without him to worry about. He became my life. If you asked how I was doing, it would depend on how he was doing. If he was having a good day or week, so was I. My purpose in life was to help him. I realize now, that I have a lot to give the world, whether I’m in a relationship or not. I also know very well that no one can save anyone else. I was trying to control his life, and he led me to believe for awhile that I could. However, all along, he was in control of his destiny and I was just along for the ride.
Being in a relationship with an addict is an allusion. There is no relationship because addicts are selfish and their partners are usually too selfless. There is no equality, honesty, trust, or real love. He was using me, and because of reasons stated above, I was using him. He may have had moments when he honestly wanted to quit, but they were fleeting. He wasn’t ready, and I couldn’t make him ready. He needed to be able to quit for himself, not for me. That was one of my many mistakes and misguided beliefs. Sometimes, love doesn’t conquer all. He needed to love himself before he could love me, and I needed to do the same thing. We were both missing something. He looked to drugs to fill the void, and I looked to him. It didn’t work. This relationship taught me a lot. I lived and I learned!
If you are going through something like this, know that you aren’t stupid and you aren’t alone. It is easy to fall in love with someone when it seems at first that they need you so much, but remember that you can’t rescue them. You can support them if they decide to change, but you can’t make them change. You can throw their drugs or alcohol away. You can hide their porn or lock up their money so they can’t gamble. They will still find away to get what they want if they want it. Their addiction comes first. No matter what you want to believe, they can never put you first if they have an addiction.
It is also true that a person in a relationship with an addict usually puts the addict first and becomes dependent on saving them. The most important thing to learn is to put yourself first. You are important too. That was a big lesson for me to learn. I know now that I can only control and save myself. You are just spinning your wheels if you’re focusing all your effort on someone else. Taking care of yourself isn’t being selfish, its being responsible. I couldn’t be in a healthy relationship if I didn’t take care of myself. I would drive my husband crazy. The best gift you can give your partner is to be a confident, well adjusted person. Life is a balance. I found I can take better care of others if I’ve first taken care of myself. Just because I focused on myself didn’t mean I couldn’t be there for others.
I hope you will remember that as well. If you want to save anyone in this world, save yourself. Then you will be able to help the people who really want help. You know how I know when someone really wants help? They are willing to go see a professional. If they think they can do it themselves or have convinced you that they only need you, they are lying about wanting to really change. I know it won’t be easy to leave, but it may be the only thing that will get them to change. If they always have you to rescue them, it may make things worse. I also know some people will never change. Please focus your energy on what you can control, and try to let go of needing to save anyone else except yourself. For more information, please see this website: Co-dependents Anonymous or see books listed on my page: Great Books on Sex and Relationships.
So true, Becca! That feeling of being so needed is very powerful! But I also had to learn the hard way that you cannot save someone from themselves. I don’t blame him entirely though. I wasn’t in a healthy place either, and allowed myself to be used. It eventually started to destroy both of us.
i appreciate you sharing…love is a little crazy sometimes and even the best of us can get caught up in unhealthy relationships. However, the denial can’t last forever and at some point you know you need to make a change. Thanks for your comment Kate!
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I’m going through this sort of thing with my partner. I am at the stage where I am reaching out for help, and really want to end the relationship. Maybe a chat with someone could help me to focus my attention.
Thanks for your comment. It can be helpful to talk things out with someone you trust or you know has some knowledge on the topic. A lot of times my students will feel better after just talking through their thoughts and feelings. It can help you start to figure out what you need to do next. Ending a relationship is hard and most of the time it takes a lot of painful moments to add up before you can really make that move. Good luck and hopefully you find a good support system to get you through.
I just got out of a relationship with an addict and these words have really spoken out to me. I’m feeling a bit lost at the moment as to what to do as this was my first relationship and it lasted for three years so the life adjustment has been quite difficult. If anyone has any advice it would really be appreciated.
It is hard to really know how to trust or what to expect out of a healthy relationship after you’ve been in an unhealthy one for so long. Give yourself time to recover. Most people who have been in a relationship with an addict are givers. They genuinely like to help, but in these types of relationships they unfortunately get taken advantage of. You want to find someone who appreciates what you have to give, but be aware that people who are selfish will be attracted to your giving nature. It isn’t always easy to tell who the takers are…you have to go slowly in a new relationship to be able to see the true nature of person. Try to find someone who already has their life on track, and don’t be tempted to by people who need you. It may seem like a perfect fit at first, but it always ends up with you being used. I hope this makes sense. Finding someone who is healthy and wants an equally giving relationship isn’t easy, but it is worth the wait. Hope this helps you out…