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Should You Stay with a Relapsed Partner?

Photo: Julia K on flickr

Photo: Julia K on flickr

Dear Meli,

My boyfriend is an alcoholic. I knew that when I met him, but at the time he was in recovery. We’ve been together about five years, and he went off the wagon about a year ago. He keeps trying to get sober, but it keeps not happening. I’m beginning to question his willingness. Or his willingness to get willing. His drinking is ruining our relationship, but for some reason I can’t leave him. I remember what he was like when he was sober. But at this point, sober seems like a long way away. Any ideas?

Done with Drinking

Dear Done,

I’m so sorry to hear about your boyfriend. It’s always heartbreaking when someone we love is harming themselves and making choices that will not lead to their greater happiness.

Speaking of which… (Not to be all up in your face!) But could it be that staying with him is doing the same thing for you – making a choice that might not lead to your greater happiness? It is incredibly sad to walk away from someone with whom you’ve shared great love because they have changed. But it sounds like the guy you met and fell in love with is not the guy you are with today. Right?

If you are open to 12-step meetings and support, Al-Anon can be a great help in these situations, as can Coda meetings. Both of these types of meetings are filled with people in similar situations, and knowing you’re not alone is a big help. There is so much love and support in those rooms. They may be a good place to start.

“Rejecting” someone we love is heartbreaking. There’s no way around that.

But you are not helping your boyfriend by staying. And, if it is as painful as I imagine, you are also not helping yourself. You may need to leave in order to open to your greater joy. And as you go, you will definitely be sending a clear message to him. A message that says “I love my self more than this. You can love yourself more than this too.” By showing him your own self-love, you can be an inspiration. And if it’s not his path to be inspired to get sober again, then wouldn’t you rather walk a different path?

I’m so sorry to have this answer. But it is what I believe. Treating yourself the way you want others to treat you is always a good place to start. So be nice to yourself. Living with a drinking alcoholic is never nice to you.

Sad for this answer and sending you and your boyfriend much love,


What is your experience with a relationship and addiction? Share your comments below!

Have a question for Meli? Interested in a private session (in person or Skype)? Contact her at meli@ohmygodlife.com

Coming up! Sunday, February 12th, 2017 at the East Bay Church of Religious Science: Z and I will be providing the music and message for the 9:00 and 11:30 am services. For more info, click HERE!



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2 Responses to Should You Stay with a Relapsed Partner?

  1. julane jazzique January 17, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    Great answer to a very difficult situation Melissa.
    Excellent advice to go to al-anon CoDa

    Having been in distructive relationships, that first step to freedom is so painful, and that guilt voice.
    Like some how me staying would save them…. not.
    Reminding myself that there is “another” in the relationship , the addiction , and I’m not even in the top 10 of priorities in my relationship.
    Actions speak much louder then words.
    Watch the actions, that is where the truth is, not the flowery words. Ever.
    Abuse is not worth staying. It chipped away at my soul, that I still have dead spots in from abuse.

    Even if he started going back to meetings, there is something going on that lead him back out.
    Whatever it was, he’s not prepared to be in a healthy, loving relationship right now.

    Part as friends, is my thought. I’ve done that. After time, I’m grateful we are friends, but not together.
    Relationships don’t have to end in hatred.
    One relationship that ended, we both loved each other, we cried together, but we just didn’t match up in important ways.
    He’s been happily married 10 years, and I am also in a sweet loving relationship.

    Big hug. Not easy but from what I’ve experienced, Melissa’s answer was spot on.

    • Melissa Phillippe January 21, 2017 at 1:50 pm #

      Wow, Julane. This adds so much! Thank you!

      I used to be with abusive people, too… From physical abuse, to verbal as my own self-love and consciousness evolved. My relationships have just gotten better and better over time.

      Now, every once in a while, Z says something in a cranky tone. HA! That’s about as bad as it gets these days.

      Ain’t recovery, and the evolution of consciousness, grand indeed? :-)

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