Dating a Person With an Alcoholic Parent

People joke with me all the time about being single.

“Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” “Why are you always single?” “Why don’t you ever give anyone a chance?”

I never really thought about it much actually. I easily blame my extremely busy schedule as a contributing factor and the fact I “just haven’t met anyone that’s worth giving up my free time too”. It’s not like I don’t ‘date’. I do. But I usually find myself caught in situations that aren’t benefiting me, with people that I find to be quite pessimistic or someone who doesn’t have the same intentions as I do.

When dating, I am the kind of person who knows right away if I’m going to get along with you. To other people (even my friends), this sounds crazy. But if I know we aren’t going to click, I’m not going to spend time trying to make it work.

Okay, after a little background on my single AF self, we can get to the point of this blog post. In my line of work, I am constantly reminding myself that the negative and sometimes harsh actions of my youth/clients are due to the trauma and situations they grew up in. I never thought to do that with myself. I’ve never stepped back and wondered why I do certain things and why I gravitate towards certain people.

I started doing some research on what having an alcoholic parent can do to the child and what effects it may have. I was surprised at how many interesting and relatable articles I found, especially when it comes to dating. I never really thought that this part of my life could affect my dating life. That might be naive of me to think because there are other more noticeable things in my life that having addiction in my life affects, like the constant need for control and acceptance.

Here are some of the main points I picked up from the research I did:

  1. Control. A child of an addict has seen how addiction can take all control away from a person. This child will then constantly want to control all aspects of their life. In dating this becomes difficult. When you date a person, you have to give up some control and trust to another person. This can not only be difficult, but also frustrating. Something as simple as cancelled plans may be triggering or seen as a much bigger deal because an addicts child has gone through a lot of cancelled plans. When we give up control, this means a lot.
  2. Burdens. A child of an addict is used to carrying around others burdens with them. It is something that we may have done for so long, we don’t even realize we are doing it anymore. You might not see this right away, but eventually, it will come out. You will see us get dragged down and worn out from doing so, but you will also see the strength it takes for us to get back up.
  3. Patience. It takes a lot of patience and time to love someone who has felt the pain of addiction. It takes time for us to open up and trust you. It takes patience to understand why our brains may work the way they do. It also takes understanding and consideration to get why we may react differently in some situations than ‘normal’ people do.
  4. Fun Over Attachment. Children of addicts often seek out fun relationships compared to deep and meaning full relationships. We fearful of getting attached to someone. Something that is fun and service level is easy to let go of and run away from whereas a more deep relationship makes so vulnerable and susceptible to being hurt.
  5. People That Need Saving. People who have dealt with addiction sometimes gravitate to people we think ‘need to be saved’. We take it upon ourselves to change and save this person. If they eventually do, we will prove to ourselves we are worth love and worth getting the validation for doing so.
  6. Emotions. Drastic and quick changes in emotions are something children of addicts are used to and have most likely picked this trait up. We are aware of this and blame ourselves for it. We think they are broken and defective. We are used to feeling loved one second and hated the next. Inconsistent emotions and feelings are something we are used to, please be patient with us.
  7. Grief. Children of addicts are grieving. Grieving lost memories, forgotten birthdays, ruined holidays, memorable moments they were skipped, etc. The thing is, we are good at hiding this grief. It doesn’t come out often, but it will. When it does be supportive.
  8. Can’t Say Goodbye. Breakups and goodbyes are not easy for children of addicts. If we’ve opened up to you and shown you a side of us we don’t often show people, we won’t ever want to let you go. We have been programmed to continuously try and make a relationship work, even through abusive situations. If you feel the relationship is toxic, it may be up to you to walk away, because quite often the child of an addict won’t be able to.
  9. Affirmation. Children of addicts are always looking to be told we’re going something right. While growing up, this aspect might have been skipped. So now that we’re older, we will do things to get the affirmation we desperately needed when we were younger.

    Articles I used:
    Children of Alcoholics Have Intimacy Issues
    Dating The Child Of An Alcoholic
    5 Things You Need To Know About Loving The Adult Child Of An Alcoholic Parent

    -Ash

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The Green-Eyed Monster

I am not a very jealous person, I never really have been. I’m also not a very competitive person, which is why I would have never survived as a professional dancer. My sister and I, though similar in age and appearance, grew up liking completely different things. I was into dance, she was into basketball and track. She used to only wear her hair straight, whereas I also had mine curly. We even have very different taste in boys and have never once fought over something in regards to this (though believe me, boys have tried to stir the pot). So I never really grew up having the need to be jealous of anything. I worked hard for the things I got in life, the positions I got put in for dancing and the opportunities I got from cheerleading.

Not until recently, have I truly tasted the bitterness of jealousy and the flood of guilt that it has also brought me. This feeling has taken a hold of me for much longer than I would like. I don’t like to admit to something like this, because jealousy is often looked at as a weakness and that’s exactly how I have been viewing it. Weakness and a lack of self-confidence.

So I have taken to the sometimes trustworthy internet, to see what I could find on this topic.

The first thing I read was this:

“Jealousy is typically considered a negative emotion, but it can be a compelling motivator for self-growth, and reinforce the connections that matter most to you.

Jennifer Freed, Ph.D.

I have been so focused on feeling guilty about being jealous, I have completely turned my eyes from trying to look at this from a different, more positive view. Instead of working on myself or my relationships, I have tried to distance myself, in hope, of also distancing myself from this emotion.

I would never say jealousy is on the good end of emotions because I think people end up doing and thinking more negative things when they feel this way, but I definitely think instead of feeling bad about this feeling, we can use it as a tool to step back, reflect and work on ourselves.

Here are some ways we can use jealousy in a positive way:

  1. It allows you to see the different attachments you have to people and brings to light what you cherish in that relationship and how you may be taking it for granted.
  2. If you allow it, it can be a great tool for self-reflection. For example: Why am I feeling like this and how can I improve myself to help me let go of this feeling? Jealousy often stems from an inner insecurity or insufficient sense of self-worth.
  3. Jealousy can help filter out overly competitive and toxic relationships.
  4. Acknowledge these feelings. Often when we choose to ignore them, we are shutting the door on self-reflection and self-growth. A friends success is great motivation to build our own success.
  5. Use this emotion to focus and concentrate on all the positive things you have in your life.
  6. Quite often (not always) the things we get jealous over are materialistic. Remind yourself that these are just ‘things’. These things aren’t what’s most important in the long run. It’s the relationships and memories we make, that are the most important.
  7. Concentrate on your happiness. Often people tend to be more jealous when they aren’t happy with themselves. Make a list of all the positive things you have going on in your life, surround yourself with people that you pick you up and do the things you love to do.
  • Ask yourself what you are feeling and if you want to feel this way.
  • If you do not want to feel this way, take some deep breaths and focus on the emotion you want to feel instead.
  • Make the choice to feel the way that you want to feel.
  • For example, if you want to feel happiness, focus on being happy, identify what makes you happy, and maintain a positive mental attitude.

Lindsay Oliver 

Owning your jealousy is the first step and will be the most difficult one, but once you do it, you can move on from there and grow from that feeling. In the past, I’ve gotten caught up in the idea that jealousy is bad and I am a bad person for feeling it. This is not true. Everyone feels jealous over something. Instead of feeling bad about it, we can instead use it as a tool for growth.

-A

Mindful

I don’t even know where to start writing. It’s been so long! I thought about writing an update on my life, and then I realized I don’t really have a lot to update you on. I could talk about my recent trip or my recent work, but I haven’t quite found a good enough purpose to write about either of those. I could talk about fitness or mental health, both topics I love writing about, but again, I have not a lot of motivation to do so.

So I have decided to write about something cool that happened the other day. Two of my best friends and I went out for brunch to a local restaurant. We sat, chatted, laughed and ate. We talked about outrageous things that probably shouldn’t be talked about in public and every once in a while our server would catch a glimpse about our absurd topics and giggle along with us. She was the cutest server, that was so personable and honest. She was one of those people that just by talking to her, you could tell how kind she was.

After brunch, we all went along with our ways. I ended up having to go straight to work because we chatted our way into the afternoon. I didn’t check my phone until later that night and saw that I had a direct message. It was from the server we had in the restaurant earlier that day. She reached out telling me she recognized me from school and wanted to thank me for speaking about self-harm.

I love getting messages like that because I often don’t think my writing reaches anyone. I also sometimes find it hard to be so vulnerable in such a small-knit city. It feels like I’m standing naked in front of everyone, allowing my flaws and imperfections to be seen.

She also made a comment in her direct message, that I really needed to hear. Usually, around this time of year, I would be heading into calendar shoot weekend for the professional cheerleading team I was previously on for five years. This means at this time last year I had dieted and exercised my way to the “ideal” body that society would approve of. I would have a fresh tan and freshly highlighted hair.  Not always being able to maintain this body and ‘perfect’ look is a hard reality to swallow sometimes and has definitely been an adjustment for me. Finding a balance has been hard and is something I am definitely continuing to work on.

At brunch, the server had offered to take a photo of the three of us at our table, I laughed and told her: “No thanks, I look ugly right now with no makeup on”. I never really thought much about this comment, I just laughed it off. In the girl’s message, she said this comment hurt her heart. She not only thanked me for speaking out and giving people someone to relate to but she made the great point of saying that: “we often want others to feel this way (beautiful) but forget to remind ourselves”.

I needed to hear this comment. I speak so often about loving ourselves and being positive, I need to step back and be mindful that I am also living this way. I have come a long way from the hate I used to have for the way I looked and the body I was given, but this comment made to realize that I need to continue to work on loving myself and speaking to myself positively like I speak to the people around me.

Sending someone a message is such a simple act but can be immensely impactful.

Remember to take the advice you give others and speak to yourself with as much love as you do to those around you!

-A