How to deal with an on again off again sober realtionship?

A discussion of topics about relationships in Recovery
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Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:33 am

How to deal with an on again off again sober realtionship?

Postby loriwp » Sat Apr 12, 2008 2:49 pm

:roll: :?: I am new to this forum chat room thing. I do not know the rules or ettiqutee. please forgive any lapses in those areas.

I have been dating a guy exclusive for 8 months. From month 2 he has ditched me once a month only to want me back with n 12 hours.

I have fallen for it. I have written some of it off to his 2 yrs in AA and my 17 in AA.

I know when I was 2 i didn't even consider exclusive.

But for the past 8 weeks it has gotten progeressively worse breaking up every 3rd day to get back together on the 5th day to break up again on the 7th day... and so on.

Our issues do not stem from our interactions. They are from what my sponsor seems to think are a power struggle.

I do not want to spend all my time at his place and he does not seem to consider spending time at mine.

Be both have nice homes. It's not like he lives in a dump or vice versa.

In the lat 8 weeks it has gotten worse because I have begun Alanon as well AA. Alanon has shown me some of my enabling co dependent habits and I am desperately trying to change this about me. Thus his selfishness seems so much greater then it was before.

To the point of the forum

We broke up again this week. This time I am resolved that it is done. He now seems to think he can make it work one more time.

I am not sure I am ready to start this again.

I have been given step work to complete and I am on step one concerning this "ism"

I feel he needs to poop or get off the potty and I need to stand firm in my consequences of him not doing it.

we do care for each other greatly... we get along really well excpet for the time share situation.

Any answers that will direct me to the solution... and I mean a recovery based suggestion.

Thanks for any feedback.

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Postby Dallas » Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:26 pm

Hello loriwp!

Welcome to the site -- and welcome to the forum!

Ism's, huh? :lol:

Well. You could do what many self-respecting power-grabbing alcoholics do... and just get married to the guy!!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

When I was in a situation that was similar to yours... "they" (my AA buddies, sponsor and mentors) said ... that I was "dancing the Dance of Death." :shock: And, I thought... "What the heck does that mean and how do they know?" And, I didn't hear a word that they were trying to say to me -- until it got so painful that I ended up on the ledge of Jumpling Off Point! :wink:

I, too... sought some assistance from some well-meaning and good intentioned Al-Anons. They seemed to be more like the Black-Belt Old-Fashioned Al-Anons -- so they didn't use any mincing terms like "co-dependant." They were strickly Big Book type Al-Anons. And, they didn't use terms like "issues." And, thank God, that they didn't... because they were able to offer me some sound advice that a recovering alcoholic could use.

Here's what was suggested to me:

1. Make a list (inventory)... of all the times that I could remember that it was "on and off"... moving in or moving out.

2. When the list was finished to review it... and then to ask myself if it seemed like "sane, mature, and sober behavior" to me. :shock:

They said "if it sounds like sane, mature and sober behavior to you"... then, you need to discover the difference between sanity and insanity. And, if you don't know the difference... then you're probably also lacking the maturity that's required for a sane relationship. :oops:

They said, that as outsiders, observing what I was telling them... that I was doing the same thing over and over and over again... expecting different results.

They also asked me... "When you were doing that with your drinking... how successful were you at making it any better?"

And, they said "Yes. We know what your sponsor is calling "the dance of death." They said "Chances are one or both of you will return to drinking if you continue doing what you're doing... and, sooner or later, one of you will die. And, the one that lives... if there is one that lives... will go look for another dance partner and start the dance all over again."

Well. For me... in my situation, they were right. She went back to drinking and I nearly died. And, I was stupid enough to ask "What should I do now?" :lol: :lol: :lol:

My sponsor finally told me (not suggested)... "Look. You go move back in with her if you want to. But, if you pack up again and move out... or, if she moves out... you've got to have an end point. So, if it's on today and off tomorrow... then tomorrow is the end point and it's over. Finale. You move out and you stay out. You don't go back."

My Al-Anon friends suggested that the only way I was going to get over it (the pain and the insanity of it) was that I would have to do it just like I did with my drinking. I would have to make a decision that "this is for good." And, then follow through with "abstaining from it one-day and one-moment-at-a-time."

In other words... they were saying "Just like I plugged the jug and didn't drink one-drink-at-a-time... I had to put the plug on the insane relationship." For a period of time, I couldn't answer the calls, return the messages, or make the call. I had to cut it off entirely.

And, that's what I did to get through it.

Did I love her? You bet! Did I want her? More than anything. Did I want a relationship with her? Of course I did. Did I want to stay sober? Yes. Much more than anything. Was it hard? The hardest thing I ever did... besides being a newcomer! :wink:

That experience helped me to discover a question for myself that I could ask me, in regards to other relationship possibilities in the future... and to other things that I was doing. The question was:

"Is is sane? Is it sober? Is it healthy?"

I wish you the best in your situation.... because, I really do understand.


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Postby Susan » Sun Apr 13, 2008 12:01 am

I have had this problem and I ended up crazy!! Abstinence was the answer because the behavior was not bringing out the best in both of us. :)

garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:30 am

Hi Loriwp,

I've heard the thing about "the dance" before.

It happened once with me in sobriety. I was supposed to "dance" back, but I never did. Haven't had a problem since. Haven't heard from the lady either in a long while. Yes, like you we cared deeply about each other and were intimate.

She ended it, and I left it at that. It seems like she was used to the "on again - off again" thing because she called my sponsor and told him she was mad at me because I wasn't trying hard to get her back. I told my sponsor she was a great lady that I loved dearly, but she ended it and it was pretty final. So I don't know if I need to get to "trying hard" to get her back. I just let it be over. That was a good decision that I don't regret today.

My sponsor said to take an inventory of the relationship. I did. I found out that I just didn't want what she has. We had some similarities like you and your guy. I have a home, so does she. She didn't want to spend any time in my home, which was OK. But she was pretty bent on the idea of me selling my home to come and live with her. I wasn't hip on that idea.

So today I have somewhere to live.

I agree with you about either taking a poop or get off the pot. I heard it said "it takes two to tango". Well if one isn't doing the tango, the other one will need to find another partner to tango with.

God bless and good luck.

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Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:10 am

Postby Susan » Thu Apr 17, 2008 6:55 pm

Good reply Paul, inventory helped me see how I could co-sign BS in a minute. It is also good not to be so needy to settle for a person who is not right for me. Today I have a great guy to be with and I am grateful. We all learn from our relationships and we make better choices. :D

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Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:33 am

Postby loriwp » Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:03 pm


Thank each of you for your feedback.

I felt like I was alone in the realtionship failure dept.
I do see the "dance" that has been mentioned.
It is good to know I am not alone.
Of course I knew that but it's always nice to hear it from the group.

I have been told over and over by my sponsor since this began... Relationships are ONLY FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

She also has said that no matter if I stay in or I go I can take all I learn with me.

I do not need to know where it is going. I just need to show up and give what I am willing to give today.

I need to treat this man like I would a newcomer who comes to me for recovery. Be there for support, encouragement, and direction. If the suggestions aren't taken don't get resentful My job is only to be of maximum service to God and my fellow.

Treat this relationship as I do the feelings I have when sponsees do not listen. It's not about me... It's about what they are ready and willing to do in their program today.

It's not an obligation to be in this relationship.

Do I desire to be involved in it today expecting nothing in return? If so then enjoy the now. Stop trying to figure it out. Do what I need to do to grow the love within me today.

Am I following the St Francis prayer? or am I in fear of not getting something I want or losing something I think is mine.

God bless the 12 steps.

I am ever so grateful I can work the steps on any issues in my life today and get a recovery based solution.

Keepin it simple ODAAT!

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Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:33 am

Postby loriwp » Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:07 pm

I have been working the steps on this specific thing.

Fancy that!

I get to step one "admitting I am powerless over this relationship" and the dance ended.

Thanks again to all!

I'll go ahead and work steps 2 - 12 on this.

I am assured the promises will happen in this area just like they have concerning the drink.

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Postby Dallas » Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:21 am

Thank you for checking in and sharing.

I wish you the best.


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