Why Relationships In Recovery Fail

Recovery has acronyms for everything. Today’s is about relationships in recovery:

Really
Exciting
Love
Affair
Turns
Into
Outrageous
Nightmare
Sobriety
Hangs
In
Peril

It’s simple: Infatuation is a better high than most drugs and it’s easy to justify. It just happened! I was in a meeting for all the right reasons. I caught his/her gaze. I could see how tortured s/he was and I thought, “S/he just needs someone who really understands!”

We went for coffee and talked for hours. We have so much in common! I didn’t want the evening to end. I had to work in the morning but I just couldn’t leave. I don’t know how it happened but we ended up in bed. It just felt so good to be held (too often we do one to get the other).

We went out on a third date. It felt like things were getting serious so I figured I better put it all out there and let them leave before I got hurt. I told them every reason why they shouldn’t be with me. I shared about my past, what I regret, and some things I’ve never told anyone (Hope I don’t regret that later). They just smiled and said, “That’s ok” and “Me too!”

We moved in together kinda quick I guess (few weeks). It made sense to save on rent and I was always at their place anyway. Things started to change. They became distant. I did everything I could to reach him/her. We fought about stupid things. S/he was always jealous and it felt like they wanted to control me.

I wish I’d left sooner. We broke up and got back together so many times. Looking back all we did was have sex and hurt each other. I wanted to know I’d done everything I could before leaving.

Rarely do we just walk away. We wait for it to go down in a giant ball of flames. Toxic relationships are one more bottom to hit. We look back toward our support system and they feel so far away. If we don’t get back to them quick, we do now what we did then.

I’ll show you. I’ll hurt me. I don’t know any other way to deal with it being over. You’re just one more person I wasn’t good enough for. Just one more person I couldn’t make love me. Getting drunk/high is like hitting a reset button on your life, but a lot of us don’t come back from it.

We crave intimacy, sex, love, connection and approval. What we want is healthy, but we want it all and we want it now. We go looking for shortcuts. We’re addicts, it’s just what we do.

Intense relationships are short lived. For folks in recovery (especially with less than one year clean/sober) it’s simple: the further we fall, the more we want someone to cling to. Be my rock and I’ll be yours. We can’t depend on ourselves but somehow it makes sense to depend on each other.

We’re slow learners. We arrive at acceptance when it hurts too much not to.

When people aren’t getting their needs met in a healthy way I tell them, “You need romance like I need a hole in the head. Get support from people you won’t have sex with. The disturbed glances I get tell me how much they’re willing to trust. I’m told the opposite sex are easier to understand and relate to. That may be true, but intimate friendships (before we’re ready for them) often result in bad decisions sexually.

Never listen to your heart until you clear it with your gut.

There are two relationships that come before all others: Who you are to you and the relationship you have with a Higher Power. This is the foundation all other relationships are built on. Before we can invest in others, we must invest in ourselves.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.