If You Love An Addict And Want To Be Happy, You Have 3 Options

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Finding happiness is up to you, not your partner.

No person can actually cure another person's addiction; they have to recognize they have lost power over their own behavior and recognize the need to change. There are some experts who will recommend you either make them quit or you leave. This may work temporarily, but if the motivation to change is not internally motivated, there will be no lasting change.

This plan can even backfire; your boyfriend may just shrug his shoulders as you walk out the door, sending the clear message that his addiction has priority over any relationship he has with you. The good news is you always have at least three options in any relationship

1. You can try to change yourself, so you can adjust better to the situation.

You can't try to change him by nagging, complaining, blaming, criticizing, threatening, or leaving because that shows you are trying to create change from the outside in and that isn't how it happens for the long-term. You can stop any enabling behavior you may be engaging in. You can change your perception of things and you can also adjust what you want to more closely fit the situation.

2. If changing it doesn't work, then you have the option of accepting it.

Many will ask, "How can I accept the fact my boyfriend has an addiction?" If you are confronted with that reality every day, I don't see how you can't accept it; it's the truth and your current reality.

Accepting it doesn't mean you like it or condone it. Accepting it simply means you recognize it's the fact of the situation and that your boyfriend has the right to choose to live his life any way he chooses. If he chooses to lose himself in an addiction, that is a choice he has the right to make.

Does it hurt other people? Probably, but I would say if others, including you, are hurt by someone else's behavior, then that is your problem and not the problem of the addict. You are the one who is unhappy so it is up to you to do something about it.

Perhaps you can look at everything in the entirety of this person and decide you can accept the addiction. I once worked with a woman whose husband drank two six-packs of beer every night after work. He didn’t drink and drive or spend his time in bars, but rather, he drank in his workshop. He wasn't an angry or mean drunk but went to work every day slowly killing himself because his liver was in trouble.

She tried everything she could think of to change him and nothing worked. Finally, she decided to accept it because she didn't want to leave him. She loved him and was happy with him as a husband and their relationship was good. However, she was scared he was going to leave her an early widow. She didn't like his addiction, but she decided to accept it and to stop nagging him about his drinking. This greatly improved their relationship, and consequently he drank less. He still drinks but not nearly as much as before and his liver is still in trouble. 

3. Your final option is to leave.

People tend to leave in one of two ways; they may leave mentally or physically. Mental leaving means you physically stay in the relationship but you are not invested in it. You are basically just going through the day-to-day motions.

When you decide to physically leave, it should be for the right reasons. You shouldn't use leaving as your leverage to get him to stop his addiction. That is a dangerous behavior for the reasons mentioned earlier because when you do choose to leave, it should be because you can no longer stand by and watch your loved one self-destruct. You are placing your own happiness first and have accepted the reality of the situation. You no longer want to be a bystander to it. 

If you are in a relationship with someone who has an addiction and you want help, check out the resources at The Relationship Center and join our mailing list.

 

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