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Old 02-14-2009, 09:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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dating a recovering alcoholic

I recently met a recovering alcoholic (2 years sober). He has a lot of great qualities, but we don't know each other that well. I am not an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic, but I'm certainly not perfect myself. I don't know anyone who is an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic either. So this is a new world for me and I feel like I'm trying to learn a new language by reading a few things on the internet. Is there something I should be talking to him about? Are there questions I should ask him about his recovery his sobriety? Other than time and conversation (as in all relationships) is there any way to find out if he's ready for a relationship? I am looking for any help or suggestions you have. Thank you.
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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See how he feels about you attending an open AA meeting with him
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Old 02-15-2009, 03:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Personally, I would do what you are doing -- educate yourself about the disease so you can then make an informed decision as to whether you want to be involved with a recovering alcoholic or not. Is he in any type of program or getting any type of support? From what I have read here and what I personally know, many alcoholics who do not "work on" their recoveries end up "dry drunks".....they quit using and drinking but don't deal with the issues that caused those behaviours. Or they end up relapsing eventually. Everyone is different however. I would try to be aware of "red flags". I think captain's suggestion of attending an open AA meeting or alanon is a great one as well.

It is a different world, being around alcoholics and addicts. I must say that it is a world that I no longer want to be in.

I wish him continued success in his recovery and hope that you always remember to take care of yourself.
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Old 02-15-2009, 03:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It is a different world, being around alcoholics and addicts. I must say that it is a world that I no longer want to be in.
I am a recovering alcoholic and I must say i find this thread a little insulting to say the least. I understand some people have painful experiences with certain people in their lives but we cannot all be judged because of that. I also understand some alcoholics are just dry and not in recovery from their addiction..but The nicest most well rounded people I have met in my life to date, are recovering alcoholics. They are honest, open and very much living in reality. They live in the real world. they are in touch with their feelings. If this guy is truly in recovery you have got lucky. He is not his illness please dont judge
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Old 02-15-2009, 04:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Welcome makey77!


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Other than time and conversation (as in all relationships) is there any way to find out if he's ready for a relationship?
Observing actions over time is excellent. If I really feel compelled to know something about someone- as it relates to me- for my own sanity I would consider asking them outright.
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Old 02-15-2009, 05:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by makey77 View Post
I recently met a recovering alcoholic (2 years sober). He has a lot of great qualities, but we don't know each other that well. I am not an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic, but I'm certainly not perfect myself. I don't know anyone who is an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic either. So this is a new world for me and I feel like I'm trying to learn a new language by reading a few things on the internet. Is there something I should be talking to him about? Are there questions I should ask him about his recovery his sobriety? Other than time and conversation (as in all relationships) is there any way to find out if he's ready for a relationship? I am looking for any help or suggestions you have. Thank you.
Hello and welcome to Sr

I have dated sober alcoholics, and truly sober alcoholics are a joy to be around. They can be as or more wonderful as anyone, more so in many cases if they are truly working a program of recovery. I was in a long term relationship with a wonderful woman that is one of my closest friends today, she has 21 years of continuous sobriety. Most of my friends are recovered alcoholics with ten plus years of sobriety, most with 20+ years. I have also dated a "sober" alcoholic that was anything but (sober) and it was the most painful relationship I have ever been in.

In my opinion, it does take quite a few years for true change to take place, like core change, that has been my experience, and is the experience of my friends with long term sobriety as well. He may be a wonderful fellow, but do be aware, that with two years of sobriety, occasionally you will probably witness a few roller coaster rides with him as his "issues" surface. If he is actively working a program of recovery, and the two of you walk through these issues together and skillfully, they can be ways to become closer and heal each other.

Trust your gut, and please post down in the Alcoholic 12 step forum to ask the sober alcoholics what to look out for.

As suggested, see if you can attend an open meeting of AA with him. It's helpful to ask if he has a sponsor, talk to him about past relationships, past behavior is the best predicator for future behavior. Is he friendly with his exes? Does he speak warmly of them? IS he working the steps? what step is he on? How does he interact with others? How does he treat animal? children?

He will give you all the information you need to know, if you watch closely, but do keep a weather eye and pay attention to how he acts while he's driving. How he acts and talks about others? Does he take personal responsibility for his "life" and well being or are his problem caused by others? Does he have a history of relapse? Is he well liked and popular in the meetings you attend with him?

Dating a sober alcoholic is very similar to dating anyone else, the important thing is to educate yourself with what true recovery looks like, then decide if that's what he has.

I am not religious, but when someone appears in my life, I am a firm believer that my higher power placed them in my life because we have something to learn from each other. It's been my experience that we attract our mirrors so this man obviously has some lesson for you. What that lesson is I don't know, it may even turn out to be stay away from alcoholics, sober or otherwise, or it may be he turns out to be your soul mate and you two belt out a gaggle of urchins and you live happily ever after.


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I am a recovering alcoholic and I must say i find this thread a little insulting to say the least. I understand some people have painful experiences with certain people in their lives but we cannot all be judged because of that. I also understand some alcoholics are just dry and not in recovery from their addiction..but The nicest most well rounded people I have met in my life to date, are recovering alcoholics. They are honest, open and very much living in reality. They live in the real world. they are in touch with their feelings. If this guy is truly in recovery you have got lucky. He is not his illness please dont judge
Hey Nelco
I am also a recovering alcoholic, and this question by the original poster is by no means insulting to me, nor should it be to any recovered alcoholic.

Alcoholics are "different", they have very specific behaviors, sober or drunk, and for someone who is dating a sober alcoholic educating themselves about alcoholism, relapse, everything about it is an intelligent decision.

This forum is for friends and family of alcoholics, not alcoholics, and they have every right to post what they want. I am here because although I am an alcoholic, I am a friend and family of an alcoholic. I try to strictly limit my "shares" here about that, although I fail repeatedly, but I need to remember this is THEIR forum, they can write and say whatever they want.

There was NO judgment in her question, just a sincere desire to educate herself about alcoholism, and what it's like to date a recovering alcoholic.

Please don't berate the folks here for your insecurities, most of them have suffered enough at the hands of alcoholics.

As being representative of Sober Alcoholics, let's try to remain respectful, and prove by our actions that we can be wonderful people to have in their lives and limit our share to being a friend and family of an alcoholic.

Let's respect the House we are in, shall we?
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Old 02-15-2009, 05:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It is a different world, being around alcoholics and addicts. I must say that it is a world that I no longer want to be in
let me clarify this is the part I find insulting, not the question by the original poster. please do not assume you know what i feel,. I am also frienids with plenty of alcoholics and most of my family are alcoholics. I think I have every right to post here
Please don't berate me here for your insecurities, I also have suffered enough at the hands of alcoholics
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Old 02-15-2009, 05:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Educating yourself on alcoholism and recovery is probably great beginning. It will allow you to enter the relationship with your eyes wide open and idea of what your future could be.

Some RAs never drink again and can be wonderful partners in life. My brother is a fine example. He's been in recovery 20+ years and would be a wonderful catch for any woman.

My experiences have led me to decide I will never take the risks I see associated with a relationship with a RA. I am just not willing to put myself in the position of being emotionally/romantically tied to someone who may potentially relapse. I've been through enough personally, emotionally and financially to enter into a relationship with an RA.
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Old 02-15-2009, 09:12 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have to say that now that I'm a recovering addict that I would want to go into a relationship with another addict/alcoholic with my eyes wide open. After all, relapse is rampant in the recovery world. Do I really want to deal with it, I don't know. If I ever do engage in a love relationship with someone else in recovery, I would want them to have some years of sobriety/cleantime, be working with a sponsor, making regular meetings, working steps, staying completely abstinent, and able to talk and answer questions about it.

Good for you for going into this thing with your eyes wide open. Keep them that way!
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Old 02-15-2009, 11:16 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thank you for all your helpful discussion and suggestions. I'm thankful that my question came across as it was intended that I am sincerely looking for information, but I am sorry people felt attacked responding to each other on this topic.
I can definitely imagine that it is highly prevalent for alcoholics to be put into a label or a box. I appreciate that it was pointed out that people are more than their labels. It is very important to me not to treat the guy I'm dating, or anyone else for that matter, as whatever they have been labeled. That being said, I don't want to be naive. I don't want to make assumptions good or bad.
The guy I'm dating is involved in AA, has a sponsor, and from what I know so far has been working on his recovery. I still have to read more about the 12 steps and talk to him about where he is along those steps. I know he has had previous relationships, but there haven't been any since he has been sober.
It burdens me to think that I could be choosing to enter a relationship with someone who relapses and all that may entail. It sounds like there are many out there who have been in that situation. I also don't want to punish this guy for his past when it seems like he is recovering in the truest sense. I'm sure that some (or maybe a lot) of the great qualities I see in him are due to going through AA/12 steps. I'm glad it was pointed out that we meet people for a reason and we can learn something from every encounter. I've learned a lot from this guy in the short time I've known him. Thank you for everyone's suggestions in terms of understanding where he's been, what he's doing now, and what would be helpful things to talk about.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:59 AM   #11 (permalink)
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First here is a :ghug3 and a for you. I wish I had your foresight to ask some of the questions you did when I started a relationship with a recovering alcoholic.

This is just my experience so take from what you will. It may not be yours now or in the future.

I was naïve. I suppose I thought that when an alcoholic enters recovery that’s it. Everything will get better; after all they had found their ‘medicine’. I was wrong. I had no real understanding of the disease, but then why would I; I had never had a romantic relationship with an alcoholic before and was not an alcoholic myself.

My A relapsed in the early stages of our relationship and it was hell. But it showed me that it could happen. Lesson 1. Just because they have stopped drinking when I met them does not mean that he may not pick up a drink in the future.

My A now has 2 years of not drinking under his belt. He is in AA and regularly attending and has a sponsor. That is fantastic and I am incredibly proud of him. There have been some instances of issues where, in the past he would turn to alcohol, but he hasn’t. Again I am incredibly proud of him for that.

However, take the alcohol away but that does not mean the issues go. The symptom (drinking) may not be there but the cause (life/emotions/’stinkin’ thinkin’ etc.) probably will be.

In my experience with my A they are. So, he may not be picking up a drink when they come a calling but the behaviours I saw when he had had a drink are still there to some degree.

I think the most important thing I would have looked for (in hindsight) is in addition to attending AA is he addressing what brought him to that bottle in the first instance. And by that I mean not just going through the steps or the ‘steps’ but putting all the crap out on the table and really looking at it. Is he talking about it, answering your questions and honestly, including you (not in his recovery per se, but is he open with you about where he is and what is happening with him and the issues that are surfacing) so you’re not just a bystander but you are side by side negotiating the obstacles so that he gets what he needs and you get what you need.

Ago mentioned the ‘rollercoaster’. I have been on that: in some ways I still am. Again just my experience and with the benefit of hindsight, but if that rollercoaster is in your future with your A, then I would say you need to learn how to ride it so that when/if it comes to a stop you are not thrown around and bruised. So, I would keep educating yourself, go to Al-Anon, asking questions, keep your eyes wide open.

People do come into your life for a reason, a season or forever.

Take care and good luck.. whatever you decide.
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Old 02-16-2009, 06:19 AM   #12 (permalink)
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When I met my ABF, I knew he drank but I did not know he was an alcoholic. To complicate matters, we live at a distance from each other and when we first met, all was wonderful. But, there were those times when he got completely drunk and I saw the worst of him. I put it down to the stress of us meeting and spending an extended length of time together. It happened again and again and there were some pretty horrible times.

When we were apart, the same thing happened although he did finally admit to me that he was an alcoholic. Throughout it all, I could have walked away from it all but I didn't. I learned all I could about this disease and what it was doing not only to him but to his loved ones. It helped but still didn't erase the hurt and anger I felt. He relapsed 2 months ago just before he was supposed to go to rehab. That's when I took the step and went to Al-Anon-the best decision for me I made.

He's now in rehab and making good progress. I'm going to be joining him in about three weeks and know that the recovery is just beginning and is an ongoing process for him and for me. I have Al-Anon and he has AA and a good D/A counselor and we will be going to joint sessions as well. He's beginning to address the core issues of his alcoholism and while it's been hard, he isfinally beginning to understand them and accept the damage he has caused not just me but his family over the years. I am very proud of him for taking this step into rehab and when we talk, I'm talking to the sweet, wonderful man I fell in love with and still love deeply.

Through it all, I understand that these behaviours or addictive thinking won't disappear overnight. There will be times when they will revert to that "stinkin' thinkin" and the possibility of relapse is always there.

But, as tallulah said, people come into your life for a reason and I know that having ABF is my life - in spite of his disease - has led me on a journey of self discovery as well - I have come to face truths about myself, about my past behaviours that I would have pooh-poohed and went on with my life. I am a better person for this. I'm looking forward - with eyes wide open, to a shared life with someone I love very much. We're both taking that life one day at a time, embracing whatever life has to throw our way.
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:03 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Wow, what wonderful insight for Makey to receive! I hope this will help you as you move forward in your relationship. I, too, wish I had the insight and the knowledge before being married to my A. I don't think it would have changed me marrying him but it may have changed how long I have stayed and let myself become entangled.

Nelco, I certainly didn't mean to berate anyone by saying that I no longer want to be in that world. I would never intentionally do that. After rereading my post, I don't think that I explained myself very well. I think Barb did that better by saying........My experiences have led me to decide I will never take the risks I see associated with a relationship with a RA. I am just not willing to put myself in the position of being emotionally/romantically tied to someone who may potentially relapse. I've been through enough personally, emotionally and financially to enter into a relationship with an RA.
I mirror her feelings.

Many many of my friends and family could be considered alcoholics. I'm not sure I know any RA's. And they are wonderful, caring people who I love deeply. As is my husband -- he truly is a wonderful man, just with a really terrible problem.

Makey, I do want to wish you the best in your new relationship. Good for you for wanting to educate yourself and good for him on his sobriety.
take care
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:02 AM   #14 (permalink)
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One of the things I've learned in recovery is that I don't have to apologize for sharing my thoughts or feelings. They are my feelings and they are just valid as anyone else's. They are based on my life experiences; they are my truth.

The fact that the poster is here and is asking questions about the soundness of entering into this relationship says to me that her intuition is telling her that perhaps this would not be a good move for her.

My own intuition kicked in when I first met my ex alcoholic boyfriend and I chose to ignore it. Twenty-two years later that choice led me to join this forum as a miserable and broken woman. Someone else's drinking problem and behaviors while drinking and later, while sober, had a negative impact on my life. My boyfriend ultimately drank himself to death.

Based on what I know today and on what I've experienced in the past, I, too, would never intentionally enter into a romantic relationship with an active or recovering alcoholic. For me, the stakes are too high.
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:50 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Hello time to go, my last post was in reply to AGO...,

but as it was the post you wrote that had originally bothered me by the statement...]
Quote:
It is a different world, being around alcoholics and addicts. I must say that it is a world that I no longer want to be in...
now you have clarified what you meant I fully respect how you feel and thank you sincerely for posting.

I should explain that I grew up in an alcoholic home, and have two active alcoholic brothers who continue hurt me if I allow them. These guys have admitted they are alcoholics and have tried AA. one of them has been in treatment twice.Their main attacks on me stem from the fact I am in recovery and they feel threatened so they are always trying to put me down, be little me in any way they can.
Other members in my family have serious issues with alcohol as I see it but I cannot call anyone an alcoholic, that is for them to decide. My mother is not really a drinker but she is chief enabler in my house and has had her own battle with my fathers drinking all her marriage. I grew up thinking I would never drink because it caused so much hurt and fear in my life as a child. My mothers behavior had more of a negative effect on me than my fathers drinking, she often flew into incredible rages which left me shaking in my bed. I don't hold any blame today and understand totally what she felt because I ended up married to an alcoholic and was drove to the same distraction. Unfortunately my mother never got recovery. I myself drank socially for a short while before I began drinking at home a lot with my husband and was horrified to find I too could not stop drinking and was in fact an alcoholic.......the very thing I hated the most in my life. I had a horrid road to travel before I finally threw the towel in.
I am very happy in my recovery today, and know lots of healthy recovered alcoholics with long term sobriety, including my husband. One of the hardest things I had to do was remove myself from my birth family ,as I have to protect myself from their sickness and protect my sanity. This was one of the hardest things I ever had to do and many times I wanted to go back in to that circle and ask them why they treat me so badly just because I got recovery ,but I know it would be like banging my head off a brick wall. My family do not have to say anything. a tut, a sigh, a nod here and there speaks volumes and if I challenge this I look like the crazy one. I am learned to walk away. I see the rewards in my son everyday....I do work very hard at my recovery and have reaped the lots of rewards from this. I would hate someone to tar me with the same brush as my very sick brothers, and I guess this is where I was coming from when I responded to your post.
I mean you no harm ...Time to go... and wish you nothing but happiness on your journey in recovery.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:51 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Anybody, I think ESPECIALLY those of us who are in recovery ourselves, who minimizes the risks of entering into a serious romantic relationship with an addict of any type, including those with alcohol addiction, is just kidding themself!

Nobody is saying that those of us in recovery should be sentenced to a lifetime alone. We're just saying, it's something to look at carefully. I think it's like any other disease or disability in some ways. It can handicap a person if the care isn't taken to keep it from relapsing. We have to work every day to stay in remission. Is the person doing the work?

Of course, a person who truly works it can actually be a better partner than some people who don't have addiction issues, because that person is making conscious choices to be honest, loving, and spiritual. Who wouldn't want that in a partner? There's a lot to think about with this decision. I'm glad to see someone actually thinking about the consequences of this before they jump in.

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Old 05-20-2009, 10:38 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Mind of an addict speaking here, but I'm facing the same thing, only in reverse... in a relationship that I know is not sustainable given my history.

I'd like to think that love transcends all, if it's truly realized. But I also know that there is a rational element to the success of a relationship as well. I think both of these things need to be kept in mind for a healthy relationship, whether it's a first date, or one of 30 years.

I can't tell you who a person is, or how they will act, any more than I can predict what color underpants I will wear tomorrow. But I do know that for me, my history has determined my present. I'd love to wine and dine a date, but I can't. And if it got to that point, I'd feel some pretty deep reservations about commitment, because as an alcoholic, I haven't even been able to commit to myself.

Now, this is me... and only me. I don't want to paint all RAs with the same brush because everyone's tale is different. But my background leads me to believe that this should be thoroughly evaluated on a continuous basis. Relationships are always two ways.

So, as others have echoed, I would push for open discussion, and maybe a truthful self-assessment of their time sober.

Wishing the best...

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Old 05-21-2009, 06:27 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Red,

Did you have a question about dating a non-alcoholic partner? I was intrigued by your post. Are you a sober A and think you cannot sustain a relationship with a non-A?

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Old 05-21-2009, 06:29 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Nice well rounded people need not be recovering alcoholics or any specific group whatsoever, they can be anyone. Even active addicts can be nice until the addiction progresses sufficiently.
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