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Should I Stay with Alcoholic who has Relapsed?

From the U.S.: Hello, I finally met the man of my dreams on dating app. We didn’t connect instantly, however, over time he was very open and honest and revealed that he was a recovering alcoholic.  He’s been struggling staying sober for the past 10 years, been to 3 rehabs, and hasn’t achieved one year sober yet.  One thing he did lie to me about after 4 months of dating, is that when he was only about 8 months sober… he said he had been sober over a year when we met.

He told his sponsor about our relationship after 2 months of dating when we started to realize we wanted to really pursue each other.  His sponsor approved since he has seen such a huge change in him in the past 9 months and has been setting the best example to his room mates in his recovery household.  5 months into relationship, things are going great and we are meeting families.  I haven’t told any of my family that he doesn’t drink or is in AA…but luckily my family does not drink much and I don’t drink at all because I get migraines.

He’s on step 9 currently so i decided to invite him to a new York trip I planned with friends since his brother lived in new jersey.  He was anxious at first but then decided it would be a good opportunity to make amends with his brother and take our relationship to the next step.

A day into our trip…but then I find him drunk on a bench and entire rest of trip was a nightmare.  It was a cycle of drink, sleep, eat, throw up, drink….  I’m still in shock this happened.  We have been on cloud nine, he for the mostly honest with me since very beginning, his sponsor approved us and his trip, he has a career (and likes) finally, savings, active, a gf who doesn’t drink….. I can only guess it was caused by getting closer to his brother and meeting my friends and family, his insecurities of not being able to drink or tell why, put him over the edge…now that he is detoxing/getting better, he wants to talk and stay together. But is it better I leave him so he can accomplish one year sober on his own? I feel like a stress of our relationship (not me) brought on this relapse.

Sadly, I don’t see much hope for this relationship. History keeps repeating itself with this man. He has been in and out of rehab and hasn’t yet managed to stay sober for a year, in spite of living in a recovery house. This struggle has been going on for a decade!

You are right that his relapse isn’t about you. It probably isn’t about his brother either. Whatever he gets from alcohol is bigger than his commitment to being sober. Staying with him means you will be constantly living with the anxiety about when he will relapse again.

My vote is for you to take some distance while he works on his sobriety. I hope you will let yourself be available to find someone who can love you (and himself) more than his addiction.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

from Ask the Therapist

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