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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