Opposite Sex Sponsorship?

Discussions related to 12 Step Sponsors, 12 Step Sponsoring, Working with others using the 12 Steps, for AA's, NA's, Al-Anons, Nar-Anons, OA, and others using the 12 Steps.
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Postby MitchellK » Sat Dec 27, 2008 10:32 pm

Unless someone is in fit spiritual condition they have no business sponsoring anyone, man or woman. If someone is in fit spiritual condition they will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle them and there would be no problems sponsoring anyone of any gender.

Would a gay male look for a male sponsor or a woman sponsor? Would a lesbian look for a male sponsor or a woman sponsor? What kind of sponsor would an individual who proclaims themselves as bisexual look for? Would someone who is bisexual not have a sponsor?

Is someone not in fit spiritual condition and sponsoring someone a sponsor or just playing one on TV regardless of whether or not they slept in a Holiday Inn Express?

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Postby debvan » Sun Dec 28, 2008 5:07 pm

Speaking from experience, it can work!!!!! Not all situations are alike. Each one should be respectfully looked at. And every individuals wish whether to sponsor someone of the opposite sex or not should be respected.

I am from a small town in the middle of the U.S.A. A small farming community. Generally there are only 2 women at a meeting of 6 to 12 or more in attendance. The men in my AA group would not sponsor a woman but stressed doing the steps immediately. Practically at every meeting I was asked about a sponsor. We did have one other woman but we did not 'click' for various reasons. Even though now we have a very warm relationship.

I came to this forum with issues about other minor problems at meetings (and I can call them minor today after doing the 12 Steps) and a need for a sponsor. I was willing and ready for the 12 Steps but needed some suggestions and HELP. And HELP found me!

It can happen. A sponsor and a sponsee of different genders. My circumstance worked. The next may not.

Would I sponsor a male? I am sponsoring a woman and have not shut the door on the possibility. Except in my group it's not a problem. A new man comes in or there is one in the District looking, he is snapped up immediately by the men in the group. They all love sponsoring someone and can't wait for the chance.

I cannot ever say NEVER.

"Whenever anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA to always be there. And for that, I am responsible."

From another perspective
Deb V

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Postby Susan » Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:59 am

I think today I would sponser anyone who was willing to work their ass off to get sober. I am not sure if the gay and the bi stuff is to crank up the forum or what, here we fight for sobriety. Find a sponser that works is what I think. I have learned from many years in healthcare that, we may not all live the same but we all have to die. Lets, have physical, emotional sobriety before we leave this earth as we know it.

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Postby Dallas » Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:57 am

Thanks to all for your recent and valuable replies to this topic. It's nice to see you keeping it green and sharing your varied experiences.

As Mitchell pointed out above: How can one transmit something that they haven't got? AA offers a spiritual solution to treat alcoholism.... that goes beyond trying to "just don't drink." The main purpose of the 12 Steps is to produce a spiritual awakening and to continue moving us on a path of spiritual progress which will enable us to pass on this same solution to alcoholics that are suffering.


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Postby GeoffS » Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:50 am

For me also part of being a sponsor is knowing when you cannot help.

There is always the chance that situations may arise that even the most experienced sponsor is not familiar with.

There is no shame in going with a sponsee to to approach your own sponsor or other OSM for some help. It is a great experience.

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Postby garden variety » Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:09 am

Hello friends,


Could it be controversey? It's funny (I mean laughing out loud type of funny) to me how we have that tradition which states that AA has no opinion about outside issues and hence not dragging the AA name into public controversey. But like bugs drawn to a light bulb in the night, we all seem to be drawn by controversey. That includes yours truly. I seen a trailer from some animation movie where the bugs were flying, and the one bug knew he shouldn't be flying into the light but he couldn't stop himself. It's funny. I mean AA's can have a controversey about tire brands. I laugh, because it's totally true, and also totally human.

I heard someone say "Live and let live". I heard another say "respect". I like those. I really like Dallas' post because it is thoughtful, courteous, and makes a lot of sense.

Let me be the first to say "I don't know", which is something I've been saying a lot lately. But I also found that if the answers aren't in the book, or in the 12 X !2 book, there is sometimes "Conference Approved" pamphlets that are very helpful. There is one available called: "Questions & Answers on Sponsorship". This has some excellent insight on sponsorship, the first thing being what is said about sponsorship because the word "sponsor" doesn't even show up in the book.

(From the "Questions & Answers on Sponsorship" pamphlet)

"Sponsorship responsibility is unwritten and informal, but it is a basic part of the AA approach to recovery from alcoholism through the Twelve Steps."

"Sponsorship is Twelfth Step Work. But it is also continuing responsibility for helping a newcomer adjust to a way of life without alcohol."

"There are no specifc rules, but a good sponsor should be a year or more away from the last drink -- and should seem to be enjoying sobriety."

I LOVE that one. I suppose there is a newcomer or two somewhere that would pick a sponsor that doesn't seem to be enjoying sobriety.

But here's the "suggestion" from the pamphlet that deals specific to this topic of opposite sex sponsorship:

"A.A. experience does suggest that it is best for men to sponsor men, women to sponsor women. This custom usually promotes quick understanding and reduces the likelihood of emotional distractions that might take the newcomers mind off the purpose of A.A."

And it says it one more time to make it clearer:

"If the group is large enough to allow a choice, sponsor and newcomer should be of the same sex. The reasons are the same from both viewpoints; we A.A. members, no matter how long we have been sober, remain thoroughly human, subject to emotions that might divert us from "our primary purpose."

Well that's pretty clear to me. But none of this stuff about sponsorship in the pamphlet is A RULE. It says the suggestions are "unwritten" and "informal". It also says specifically that same-sex sponsorship is a "custom". I think the writers were thoughtful enough to realize that A.A. would grow around the world, and also grow into the "future". So they chose the word "custom". "Customs" change and grow into other "customs".

What I see as the "operative" in opposite-sex sponsorship is the word they use called "emotions". I think Susan hit the nail on the head with "emotional sobriety". So what I'm hearing is that to be a sponsor, I need to not only be "spiritually fit", but also "emotionally sober". If I'm called to sponsor a woman or male/female gay man or woman, I need those things at work every day in my sobriety.

Like it's been said here, there are sometimes not enough women in a region or area for a newcomer woman to find a sponsor. Here in Akron and Cleveland, there is a "Militant Women's Movement" that take "the program" to a level of nonsense that is destructive to newcomer women. Their "style" of sponsorship is to keep men and women separated, at all times. NO RELATIONSHIPS whatsoever with men, even if you're a woman with 10 or more years of sobriety. I've seen a female sponsor (this was in Akron) give her sponsee with 8 years sober an ultimatim: don't date or live with this fellow (who was by every measure an excellent AA), otherwise she would have to find another sponsor.

This "Militant Women's Movement" won't even let men sit at the same table with women at open speaker meetings. My buddy Mike and me were literally asked to leave the table where we were sitting because the "Militant Women" took it upon themselves to "reserve" the table for the "girls". Now this was an open meeting where Mike and me PAID for a breakfast, and all the "girls" had at least 3 years of sobriety.

So in some circles around here, it can be down-right counterproductive for women to have same-sex sponsors. This puts the newcomer woman in the position to be making a major decision about sponsorship that might cause her harm, instead of honest and decent 12th step work form experienced members.

What about my experience? Don't even ask. I'm not the perfect AA and I've got myself into "emotional" situations with women while at the same time getting put into the role of a "sponsor". It didn't happen that a woman asked me to be a sponsor and then "fall madly in love", but it was the opposite. The whole purpose was dating and a try at a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship - then after dating and being "involved", I found myself being a "sponsor". Dare I say that it happened more than once?

Once again, I will never EVER testify that I'm a "perfect AA". And I would NEVER EVER suggest getting involved in some of the "situations" I've been in and through. I can also TOTALLY identify with what that pamphlet says about being "thoroughly human". But through these "personal adventures AFTER", I did learn that I am "emotionally sober" and "spiritually fit" enough to help another alcoholic even when I'm personally and emotionally "involved" with her. I know I'm also not an expert with "relationships", but I know how to get into a relationship and how to get out of a relationship without losing my mind or my sobriety, AND I haven't made any enemies out of of former girlfriends. "Live and let live" and "respect" are things I try to keep at my side at all times.

All in all, this is an excellent topic. As for me, I'm in agreement with the pamphlet. But I also know that is not always possible. As far as "good" or "bad", I can't say. I don't always know enough between what's "good" or "bad" in my own life, much less another human being's life. I don't think I'm supposed to be responsible for those calls.

Thanks for letting me share.

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Postby Tim » Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:35 pm

Good words, Paul. Your messages often cause me to think and to reflect and to see things in new ways.

It's been awhile since I've read the AA Sponsorship pamphlet. I must have slurred over the line about "enjoying sobriety" as a suggested characteristic for sponsors, because I don't remember it. Good idea,though.

The militant women's movement you wrote about sounds scary! I've run into some militant AAs of both sexes now and then. They're scary, too!

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Postby Susan » Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:21 pm

You are right about the Militant Womens Movement. It is sick!! and unbalanced. I call that the bitch program and it is inhumane. I hate bitchy women and I am a woman, but I have zero tolerence for it and I let them know right quick just where they can stick it. You cannot just totally run a persons life.

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Postby Dallas » Tue Dec 30, 2008 6:51 pm

I call that the bitch program and it is inhumane.

Susan, I just love ya and love the way you can express things!!!
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

How can I help clone you so we can have a Susan Movement!!

When I was a little kid -- I always thought it would be great to become a doctor -- so that I could treat my family! :lol:

Even after my body grew up -- I thought it would be great to be a doctor so that I could treat my family and friends...

When my mind slowly started to grow, trying to catch up with my body and my age... I learned that to be able to "try my theories" about what's good and not-good -- I could ask questions of those that were doing what I wanted to do. Then, I could learn by their trial and errors and their experiences... rather than creating my own crisis after crisis, to figure out that my ideas were not so sound. :lol: :lol:

So, I said to doctors that I would meet... "It sure must be great to treat your wife and family! I'll bet it saves you a ton of money!"

And, they would look at me like I was a frog that had just fallen off a log!

"Oh. We never treat our family members. It's even part of our unwritten code of ethics. It's a real bad idea for a doctor to treat family members... we send them to see another doctor when they need to be treated."

I still didn't understand...

Then, I said to some lawyers I met... "I bet it saves you a lot of money, makes you a lot of money, and you can do a real good job -- defending yourself, being your own lawyer and lawyering for your family members!"

They all told me "Oh no! It's not a good idea for a lawyer to be his own lawyer or to lawyer for his family! We suggest they use another lawyer!"

I've slowly started discovering what they were talking about.

I learned it through my relationship with my dog.

I love my dog. She's like a kid to me. She's a companion. A partner. A friend.

Once she was really sick... and I didn't know how sick she really was, because I'm not a Vet. And, I figured that I know some of what Vet's know... and I could decide what was best for her.

What happened was: she got sicker. I got scared. On a Saturday night I was on the phone to a Vet and he got out of bed and said "Get her in here quick!"

I learned that had I waited... possibly a couple more minutes... or hour or two... she would have probably died.

That would have really killed me emotionally -- if she had died -- and, I had been the one trying to treat her.

Then, I understood what the doctors and lawyers were talking about. What if they died? What if they went to prison? They said, "How would it effect me emotionally"?

I also learned, by trial and error, what it was like to try to help an alcoholic relative to recover. And, what it was like to be married to an alcoholic -- and trying to be her husband and her sponsor (with my and her excuse that... she couldn't find some other lady and I could help her the best). She almost died -- and it nearly killed me.

After the broken heart, the emotional melt-down, and the divorce... and after some time feverishly working to survive (let alone to recover)... I learned some valuable information that could help me in my future adventures.

One of my natural traits is: "I know that I always know more than the other guys." :lol: :lol: :lol:

It has been suggested to me, that it's also one of my alcoholic personality traits! :lol: :lol:

I've learned to ask questions. To be slow to act and fast to learn. To remember -- that my best ideas were ideas that I got from others. :lol: :lol:

I've often wondered if maybe it was one of God's tricks to help me try to gain some humility and to learn to be humble. Having me learn that I need Him and that the way He works for me -- is to work through others.

Well... if God is in me, and He is in others... why not just use the God in me instead of the God in others???

My answer is: The God in me is the same God that is in others... and for me to learn that I'm always in a relationship with God and with others (in some way or other... good, bad, or ugly)... I need others. And, God works for me through the others.

I guess the reason He works that way for me -- is I have a tendency to forget that God is God and me is me. And, I end up trying to play God and not even know that I'm playing God -- because I'm not playing! :lol: :lol:

So, He works for me in this way, through others... to remind me that "I'm not-God. And, I better be careful... how I treat and relate to others. Because I need them, too!" :wink:

What's this got to do with the topic here? I don't know. Probably nothing to you. But, your experience with this topic must have touched something in me.


garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:03 am

debvan wrote:I cannot ever say NEVER.

"Whenever anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA to always be there. And for that, I am responsible."

From another perspective
Deb V

This is also a nice thing for me to take to heart. I didn't see any exceptions made for males, females, close friends, family members, lovers, significant others, heterosexuals (only), bi-sexuals, homosexuals, or any other "other".

"anyone, anywhere" - I'm responsible for all of these?

"Never say never?" - You mean I have to let go of everything? Even the stuff in my mind which I think is the absolute Gospel truth about AA, the Big Book, the fellowship, sponsorship and everything?

Incredible concept. Sounds like I'll need an open mind to swallow all of this.

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