Mar 132014 1 Response

A Reader’s Question Regarding Addiction

A reader asks: “I love my boyfriend but his addiction is hurting our relationship. What should I do?”

Break-up with him. It’s that simple. Never date an addict. It’s what’s best for you and best for him.

Notice two important distinctions about this advice:

1. The question is regarding a dating relationship not a married relationship. When we are dating, we have tremendous freedom. With complete freedom, a person who is dating is allowed to decide with whom they want to be in relationship. While we are required to love everyone and assist many, we are not required to date someone. If we don’t like their struggle or weakness, we are free to not date them. Once married, our freedom changes. Since we have such ability, I would be quick to exercise it in a dating relationship. There are too many other people to choose from to risk dating someone with an addiction. (See: Pastoral Advice for Single Women)

2. The question is regarding an active addiction, not an addict in the recovery process. While I would be slow to date a recovering addict, if the person is far enough in their recovery process, pursuing a relationship might be an option. However, when the person is in the middle of the addiction, I would never hesitate—break-up with them immediately. It may not feel loving, but it is both wise for you and loving for them.

The problem with dating someone in the middle of an addiction is that the relationship is never the centerpiece of both of your lives. It might be center for you, but the addiction is the centerpiece for them. This creates inequality. Often it results in the relationship being part girlfriend/boyfriend and part parent/child. The non-addicted partner often assumes a parenting responsibility regarding the partner’s addiction. This is not a healthy foundation upon which to build a relationship. (See: Marry a Partner, Not a Child)

Consider two possible outcomes if you date someone in an addiction:

1. They continue their addiction. It will have disastrous consequences. The small ripples which might be felt while dating become major waves when married. Make no mistake, no matter how much you love an addicted person and no matter how much the addicted person says they love you, when they are active in their addiction they always love their addiction more than you. Never continue a relationship where you love the person more than they love you. (See: You Don’t Have to do it on Your Own)

2. They stop their addiction. It’s the best case scenario. It’s what every boyfriend or girlfriend prays will happen. Yet when they stop their addiction, there is no guarantee you will like the non-addicted person or that the non-addicted person will like you. People change. An addicted person is different than when they weren’t addicted. When the addiction is no longer dominating their lives, their priorities change. Sometimes personalities change. Who’s to say you will like them or they will like you?

If a person is in the middle of an addiction, they need to focus every ounce of their energy on recovering from the addiction. They do not have time for a relationship and are not in the right mindset to think clearly about a relationship. (See: Drama Addicts)

Dating the addict can sometimes be a form of enabling. Active addictions have negative consequences; one of those consequences should be an unwillingness from others to date them. (See: What to Look for in a Mate)

Breaking up with the addict does run the risk of driving them deeper into their addiction, but it also provides an opportunity for them to see the damage their addiction is doing to themselves and those around them and to get help.

Never date someone active in their addiction. It’s bad for you and it’s bad for them.

For a related topic, see:

Help! My Sibling’s Addiction is Killing My Parent’s

For those in the Greater Fort Smith Region, Celebrate Recovery meets every Thursday night at 6:30pm. This program would be useful for both an addict and anyone in a relationship with an addict.

One Response to A Reader’s Question Regarding Addiction
  1. […] 5. Addicted. No matter how great a woman may be, if she is addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or ...

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