By Cheryl Steinberg
Relapse depends on one thing: You. The choices you make, whether to do the work, take suggestions, and change people, places, and things is all within your power. And when it comes to relationships, there are a whole slew of pitfalls that you should avoid. Here are 5 types of relationships that will lead to relapse.
#1. The Anger-Based Relationship
If your partner’s dominant emotion is anger, then this could lead to problems. Perhaps this is a relationship in early recovery – which to many sponsors is a no-no – and your partner is still working through resentments. Perhaps they tend to be restless, irritable, and discontent – regardless of the amount of clean/sober time. Either way, your partner might be headed for a relapse and, if you’re not careful, you just might follow suit.
#2. The Possessive Relationship
In all relationships, whether they involve people in recovery or normies, trust is a requirement. If one or both of you is possessive, this is the number one red flag of an unhealthy relationship. Clearly, jealousy and mistrust abound in the relationship, whether there’s reason for it (i.e. a history of cheating) and therefore this type of relationship is doomed. A possessive partner will likely restrict your comings and goings – included which meetings you can attend, if at all – and who you can socialize with. This behavior will interfere with your program as well as breed resentment.
#3. The Rebound Relationship
Not that rebound relationships are a phenomenon exclusive to 12-step groups, but they certainly flourish there. Divorce and breakups are sometimes the rock bottom that some need to hit in order to decide to get sober. Then, add to that all those raw emotions and frayed nerves of early sobriety and you have a recipe for heartbreak and heartache. Beware the broken-hearted; let them work the steps without the distraction of a new relationship. And if you are the heartbroken one, allow yourself to be single for a little while, so that you can focus your energy on your program.
#4. The Codependent Relationship
What’s an article on relationships and recovery without the mention of codependency! You depend on one another for everything. And that’s dangerous territory. You need one another in order to feel whole instead of being two whole people who come together in a way that improves each other’s lives. Before you know it, you’re basically sponsoring one another. You willingly turn a blind eye to all the red flags because you’re too wrapped up in your own codependent world. It’s no wonder that a lot of couple in this type of relationship relapse together.
#5. The Parent/Child Relationship
This one might not be a romantic relationship but, it is a type of relationship nonetheless and, when it comes to recovery, it can prove a dangerous one. You might have some significant time at this point and you see the newcomers as kids you want to take under your wing, (rather than as potential sex partners like you used to). Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless you’re doing it because you want to save someone – and this particular someone just so happens to be someone you find attractive. Check your motives. And, if there’s any sexual attraction or tension – on your part or theirs (come on, don’t play the naïve card; you can tell), then give them numbers of people who can be sober supports.
The bottom line is this: In order to attract emotionally healthy people, you should be emotionally healthy, yourself. And time in sobriety does not equal emotional sobriety. Whether you’re in a 12-step program or sober by some other means, don’t expect to attract a healthy relationship until you’ve gotten your sh!t together. Be patient and do the work: step work, therapy, or otherwise. Everything will fall into place.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available simply by calling toll-free 1-800-951-6135. You will reach an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions, day or night.