It’s no secret that addiction plays havoc in relationships. Families are torn apart, while romantic partners are betrayed or let down. There is a reason most recovering addicts in new relationships fear it all going wrong.
When you start dating again, it is all too easy to repeat old patterns. You’ve spent years learning to lie and conceal the truth. Codependency may have become your second language. In theory, your fears should protect you from getting stuck in the same situation.
Unfortunately, one of the things recovering addicts tend to do is assume responsibility for everything wrong in their relationship. If your partner isn’t communicating with you, you assume it’s because you still lie too much. If they don’t trust you, you assume it’s because of behaviors you learned as an addict.
It can be hard to differentiate truly problematic relationships from leftover habits you can work on. However, there are some red flags which should indicate to any recovering addict that their new relationship is unhealthy.
1. You fear them
On the one hand, this might seem obvious. If you are afraid your partner might abuse you physically or emotionally, you should get help immediately. However, there are other types of fears that are not so obvious.
For example, you may be scared that if you say the “wrong” thing, or make a mistake, your partner will leave you. Try to determine whether your fear is based on actual events or is something you have learned in other relationships.
Try speaking to them openly. A healthy relationship cannot survive if you are living in fear of them leaving you. If it turns out that they do expect compliance or perfection, you should consider getting out of the relationship.
2. They don’t take your addiction seriously.
When a romantic partner does not take your addiction seriously, it raises a whole lot of red flags. Of course, there’s the possibility they might reintroduce substances into your life. But beyond that, there is the simple fact that they are downplaying your most personal experiences.
Some people are simply ignorant about addiction, and you can explain it to them. However, if they still downplay it or speak about it as a moral failing, they are showing you that they don’t respect your struggles and achievements.
3. They try to control you
While some romantic partners might not take your addiction seriously, others might take it too seriously. Certain people are not comfortable with the possibility that you could relapse, as they are used to having control of their lives. They therefore try to control you.
The reason many recovering addicts miss this red flag is that the person seems to have their best interests at heart. They just want you to be healthy and substance-free. Nonetheless, regardless of their intentions, this kind of behavior will make you feel patronized and you may act out.
A romantic partner should be there to support you, taking your addiction seriously while being your biggest cheerleader. Someone who tries to control you is doing the opposite – they are attempting to take away your agency, giving the impression that they don’t trust you to take care of yourself.