Dating an alcoholic in recovery can be difficult if you are unaware of the suggestions and tips required to build a healthy relationship. To begin, it is advised that alcoholics in recovery refrain from dating for a year. While it is acceptable to remain in a relationship during early recovery, a new relationship should not begin before an individual has celebrated a year of sobriety. While a year may seem like a long time, it is intended to be spent on personal development and learning sobriety maintenance techniques.
Dating an Alcoholic in Recovery
There are a few things to consider when dating an alcoholic in recovery. Let’s look at some dating advice for alcoholics in recovery.
#1. Proceed With Caution
Moving quickly in any relationship is not advised because you both have a lot to learn about each other. This is especially true when dating an alcoholic in recovery because sobriety is a lifelong emotional and mental learning process. Even after a year of sobriety, recovering individuals must continue to improve themselves, their reactions, and behaviors, as well as learn new healthy coping methods.
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#2. Be Willing to Work Around Their Flaws
It is critical to recognize that people in recovery are recovering not only from their substance abuse but also from the factors that led them to this point. Keep in mind that your partner may be dealing with mental health issues, unresolved trauma, or other issues from their past that they are attempting to heal from. Co-occurring mental health conditions are common among alcoholics and people with substance use disorders.
#3. Educate Yourself on Alcoholism and Addiction
If you are unfamiliar with addiction, you should conduct research before entering into a serious relationship with a recovering alcoholic. To begin, you should be aware that addiction is a brain disorder characterized by impulsive behavior and continued participation in an activity or substance despite negative consequences.
#4. Understand Your Partner’s Triggers
Another suggestion for dating an alcoholic in recovery is to learn about their triggers. Triggers come in a variety of forms, including sights, sounds, smells, situations, and others. While avoiding triggers is important, it is impossible to avoid them all. Fortunately, your partner will learn how to cope with temptation while in treatment and in alcoholism support groups.
#5. Allow Them to Prioritize Their Recovery
Your partner’s sobriety is entirely dependent on their commitment to recovery and the maintenance of healthy coping mechanisms. This means that if they do not prioritize their recovery, your partner may relapse. When dating an alcoholic in recovery, you must be okay with them spending time in addiction recovery support groups, therapy, meeting with sober support, and, in some cases, outpatient treatment sessions.
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Dating an Alcoholic Woman
Determining whether or not you’re dating an alcoholic woman can be more difficult than you think. While many of us imagine an alcoholic as a “falling-down drunk” like Nicolas Cage’s character in Leaving Las Vegas, the reality is that 32% of alcoholics are actually high-functioning.
Not all of the warning signs will be obvious, but some will be as you reflect on the situation.
#1. Did You Meet Her in a Bar?
Meeting someone in a bar does not automatically imply that they are an alcoholic. However, if you’re a social drinker, the people you meet in that environment are more likely to be problem drinkers — just as you might find more “crazy cat ladies” while volunteering at an animal rescue or more health fanatics at the gym.
#2. Does she forget important details about what you’ve told her?
Assume you’re on your third date and you’re having a heart-to-heart over dinner at a nice restaurant. You decide to be vulnerable and tell her about your grandfather’s three-month cancer battle. It’s a little emotional, but she appears to be right there with you, taking everything in.
#3. Is she depressed or even abusive to you?
If you’re dating an alcoholic woman, you may notice that she has extreme mood swings or even appears to be a different person at times. The sweet woman you met may say something nasty or disrespectful to you one moment, then turn around and be nice again the next moment, or the next day.
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#4. Is She a Little Obese?
In general, alcohol and exercise do not mix. Even if they do, it can be difficult to burn off the calories in an entire bottle of wine. Not to mention that if you’re constantly out drinking, it’s difficult to eat healthy (nachos and fried potato skins never help anyone) and it’s much easier to eat more when you’re partying.
Signs You’re Dating an Alcoholic
Sometimes it’s obvious that you’re in a relationship with an alcoholic. However, this is not always the case. There are times when you suspect you have an alcohol problem but aren’t sure how serious it is.
Among the warning signs that you are dating an alcoholic are:
- Drinking is a part of every social activity and occasion.
- Your partner is angry, upset, or irritable when he or she is not drinking alcohol.
- Alcohol had a negative impact on your relationship or your partner’s life prior to your involvement.
- Alcohol is a crutch that is used to numb emotions or avoid aspects of life.
- Your partner tries to conceal his or her alcohol consumption from you.
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Everyone is unique, and the signs of alcoholism differ from person to person. However, if one or more of these things have occurred in your relationship, you may want to consider whether there is an alcohol problem or if your partner has an alcohol addiction.
Dating an Alcoholic Man
You might know or be dating someone who is in the early stages of alcoholism. Something tells you that they may have an alcohol problem, but they are currently displaying only a few of the recognized symptoms of an alcohol use disorder. However, there are some early warning signs that someone may be an alcoholic.
#1. Their entire social life revolves around the consumption of alcohol.
Attending only events where alcohol is available or permitted may be an early sign of alcoholism. It’s also possible that hang out with people who drink and avoid those who don’t. This person will not attend a Little League game, but will undoubtedly attend a college game where tailgating will take place. They may take you to the movies on occasion, but they are eager to get you out of there and into a bar.
#2. They drink to de-stress.
They drink when they are happy as well as when they are angry. Furthermore, they drink when they’re happy (and they’ll drink about anything) and when they’re sad. Moreover, they use alcohol to cope with the ups and downs of life. Alcohol serves as a crutch. They use alcohol to cope with their emotions. Simply put, alcohol means more to them than it does to others.
#3. They Do Not Appear to Be Drunk
The ability to “hold their liquor” is an early sign of alcoholism. This person can drink several drinks and not show signs of intoxication. They’ve developed an alcohol tolerance, which means it takes more alcohol to make them feel the same way one or two drinks used to. If you try to drink alongside them, you will feel the effects long before they consider slowing down.
#4. When they drink, their personality changes.
Even if they do not appear to be intoxicated after a few drinks, their mood or personality may change. After just a couple of drinks, they can go from being a kind, sweet person to being mean and verbally abusive. Alternatively, they could shift from shy and quiet to loud and aggressive. While drinking, they may become overly emotional, whereas when sober, they rarely express any emotions.
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#5. They become irritable when they are not drinking.
They’re fine when they have a drink in their hand, but if they can’t drink for an extended period of time, they can become irritable. Similarly, they may become enraged at the smallest provocation, or at no provocation at all. This means that when they’re sober, they’re unpredictable and difficult to talk to.
Dating an Alcoholic Narcissist
Narcissists satisfy themselves at the expense of those around them. Alcoholics who are not in recovery continue to drink even when it causes harm to their loved ones. While alcoholism is an addiction and extreme narcissism is a personality disorder, narcissists and alcoholics share many characteristics. Knowing these things can help you deal with people in your life who suffer from narcissism or alcoholism.
Ironclad denial is a hallmark of narcissism. From the perspective of a narcissist, he or she has no problems and can do no wrong. Many narcissists’ personae include bravado and a damn-the-consequences swagger.
#2. Lack of self-reflection
Self-reflection is not something that most narcissists are interested in. Doing so would expose them to the deep shame and emptiness they carry.
#3. Refusal to accept accountability
Narcissists are quick to blame others for their actions. Alcoholics have a plethora of reasons for drinking.
Narcissists are defined by their sense of entitlement. They give themselves full permission to do whatever they want, regardless of the rules or the costs to others, because they lack empathy and feel superior.
How to Handle Dating an Alcoholic
Remember that you are not alone if you suspect your significant other is an alcoholic. Communicating your concerns, taking a step back, setting boundaries, practicing self-care, maintaining a routine, attending a support group or therapy, and leaving if you feel unsafe are always to deal with this type of situation. Here are some suggestions for dealing with an alcoholic:
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#1. Express Your Concerns
You are an observer of someone’s life as their significant other. While they are sober, it can be beneficial to communicate your observations and subsequent concerns about their drinking to them.
#2. Establish Defined Boundaries
While you love your significant other, it’s critical to establish boundaries that clarify your expectations, prevent you from enabling their alcohol use, and keep you both safe. Setting boundaries may sound like this: “It is your choice whether or not to drink, but I will not hide it for you, and I will not make excuses for you at events.”
#3. Give yourself permission to take a step back and not blame yourself.
People frequently blame themselves for their significant other’s alcoholism or become entangled in the problem’s management. Remind yourself that they are the only ones who have control over their alcohol consumption.
#4. Take Care of Yourself by Attending to Your Needs and Maintaining a Routine
When you’re dating an alcoholic, it’s easy to lose sight of your own wants and needs. Allowing yourself to keep your personal routine and work on your own goals allows you to take care of yourself, maintain a sense of normalcy, and give yourself the space to “be you.”
#5. Develop Coping Skills to Manage Stress and Negative Emotions
Maintaining boundaries and taking a step back can cause or amplify negative emotions such as anger, resentment, frustration, and anxiety. Stress can significantly amplify these emotions, and you may be at a loss for how to deal with them.
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If any of this sounds familiar, it’s possible that the person you know is dating an alcoholic. You might want to learn more about what it’s like to have an alcoholic loved one.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it hard to date an alcoholic?
The unfortunate reality is that, due to all the side effects that can accompany alcohol use, it can be difficult to have a relationship with an alcoholic that isn’t toxic or unhealthy in some way. It’s possible that the only way to have a healthy relationship with an alcoholic is for them to get sober.
When is drinking a problem in a relationship?
Alcohol, for example, can be toxic because it impairs your ability to stick to your routine. If alcohol is making you sick or preventing you from carrying out your daily responsibilities, it is most likely causing a problem in your relationship. This can result in annoyance, irritability, and even aggression.
At what point are you considered an alcoholic?
It’s having more than three drinks per day or seven drinks per week for women. It’s four or more per day for men or 14 per week. You are at risk if you consume more than the daily or weekly limit.
How many drinks a day is considered an alcoholic?
Heavy Alcohol Consumption:
According to the NIAAA, heavy drinking is defined as follows: Men who consume more than four drinks on any given day or more than fourteen drinks per week. Women who consume more than three drinks on any given day or more than seven drinks per week.