Addiction is the affair in their relationship

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

im 38 and just released from prison. going to prison was a blessing as it gave me time to get clean from drugs.it also gave me a chance to look closer at my life.and i also reaffirmed my love and following of christ.

i guess the changes i made in prison should have been for me….but they werent….the changes i made were for my girlfreind and our relationship. i really thought that if i made these changes everything would be ok….i was wrong. she got clean the day i got out. sence ive been out i feel that im the only one with the goal of having a life…a happy one.t his is disheartening. we argue constantly. i addmit i go from 0-60 in seconds. resentment, frustration, anger. when i try to express myself and talk i hit a brick wall. i want to love her…but i fear that maybe i dont know how. i dont know what to do. if i leave im sure she will start to use again.(drugs). but the relationship is going nowhere fast.

why am i still here? i love her and try to always hope for the best. maybe a little afraid to be alone also. i guess i had dreams of a fairytale relationship. im not even sure if she really loves me or if im just filling a space for her rite now. im so unhappy and hurting inside…we need help.

A: Yes you do. Good for you for realizing that you need some help getting back into life and love. For a time, at least, you and your girlfriend have had a third “person” in your relationship — your addictions. When addiction is the affair in a relationship, the partners never really learn how to work through difficulties or how to be supportive of each other. The addiction is always there either as an escape or as a distraction. As you said, you go 0 – 60 in seconds. Relationships can’t thrive and survive if one of the partners is so quick to anger. You also suggested that you two are more in the relationship out of fears of loneliness or co-dependence. That isn’t enough to keep people together over the long run either.

I think each of you (you and your partner) need to take a little time to be “selfish.” By this I mean that you each need to take the time to work on yourselves so that you can eventually be the kind of partners you want to be. Contact the Greater Mojave Area Narcotics Anonymous (888-322-6817). Start attending meetings. Take a break from the relationship and put yourselves wholeheartedly into your own recoveries. When you have truly left addictions behind and have learned healthier ways to be with yourself and with another person, you and your girlfriend can then take a new look at your relationship and see if there is something there to build on.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Aug 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Addiction is the affair in their relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/08/16/addiction-is-the-affair-in-their-relationship/