Expecting an Alcoholic to Give me Love


In this world we all need to be loved, but expecting to get this from an alcoholic will lead us into disappointment and harboring resentments. Someone recently said; “going to someone with a drinking problem to fulfill my need to be loved is like shopping at a hardware store for a loaf of bread.” I found that comment to be very funny and yet sadly true.

The problem I had was being co-dependent upon what others thought of me. If they displayed behavior that said to me that they were displeased with me or did not really want me to be around them, then I would go into a downward spiral of anger and depression. When my wife (the alcoholic) would intentionally exclude me from her plans, this would leave me furious at times feeling abandoned, unloved and all alone. As I look back on those times now, she just wanted to be left alone to have her relationship with the bottle. It really had nothing to do with not loving me and everything to do with her addiction to alcohol.

I wasn’t until I started attending alcoholism support group meetings that I learned that I needed to get a life for me, apart from the alcoholic. I started learning that the only one responsible for me being happy was me; the alcoholic could not fulfill my need to be loved and accepted. I was told things work this way because the problem drinker is too emotionally bankrupt to meet my expectations of love or romance in a relationship. This did not mean that my choice to love an alcoholic had to change. It just meant that I began to understand more about the personality of the person suffering from alcoholism and how it affects me.

As I began to learn that expecting an alcoholic to love me was damaging to my emotional stability and something that they could not honestly do, I started focusing more on me and less on them. One of the results of this change was that there was less fighting with the alcoholic.

In a sense, I began taking care of me and not trying to get love from someone who was literally incapable of fulfilling my need for affection. Acceptance was the answer to my problem, but before I could accept not getting the love I needed from the alcoholic, I had to be taught that she loved the bottle and drinking more than me.

I recently heard someone say; “having a relationship with an alcoholic is a love triangle.” The sad part of this truth is that when given a choice, they will almost always go for getting drunk over being with us. In AA they call this “romancing the bottle.”

There’s an acronym we have in Al-anon that we call the three A’s; “awareness-acceptance-action.” Once I got the “awareness” that expecting an alcoholic to love me was something they could not do, I then had to “accept” that they loved drinking more than me. After working through those two things, I then began to take “actions” that led to me finding happiness in other ways.

If I have expectations of anyone, not just the alcoholic, I am setting myself up for a resentment. The very idea of expecting someone else to be able to make me happy is far from my thinking now. I always thought that if she (the alcoholic) would just quit drinking everything would be fine. This is not true in any way shape or form. Once I learned how to enjoy life whether she was drinking or not that’s when I started experiencing true happiness.

If you would like to learn how to live your life with a problem drinker and still be happy, try Al-anon. That’s where I learned about an alcoholic’s behaviors and how to stop expecting the alcoholic to give love and happiness to me.


7 comments to Expecting an Alcoholic to Give me Love

  • Monique

    Thank you so much for your daily notes that I recieve.

  • Laura

    What’s wrong with Hardware Stores? … this is great … http://alanon.activeboard.com/t35958334/what-is-wrong-with-hardware-stores/ ….

  • JoJo

    That is so very much what I needed to hear from someone going through pretty much the same struggles as I am now! Thank you for your story. It has made me realize even more that I am truly not alone.

  • Connie

    I also needed to hear this. My xah left me and I still feel heart broken at times. Go figure.

  • kaz

    yes, i am a lot of the problem, so it is time for me to move on .. thank you all. I luv reading ur posts.

  • J

    I keep letting myself get heartbroken from ah b/f. In my head I know the theory and then my little inner child/unmet needs part of me reaches out again in hope that he will be there for me. Meet my needs for safety and love. That he could be the adult when I feel like a little child. But unfortunately he says alot of nice things only to be replaced by very nasty things. It hurts so much. I want to love him and I want to recieve love from him too. I understand that my responsibility is to learn to love myself and make good choices for self care. I understand it all on an intellectual level and yet it hurts so much because I keep going into denial about him. Hurting myself in the process. Leaving my heart open again and again for more abuse. It’s a torturing experience. He’s extremely manipulative and lies like nothing else. I feel like I am in a big sticky web where there is no winning at all. I am finding it hard.

  • Pez

    Hi J: It comes down to a decision one way or another. If you stay it’s a cycle and you will keep going through this cycle with him, pulled along with the storms of his life. Do you want that? It is important in any relationship to be happy and self-sufficient in your happiness for yourself but, I believe everyone deserves a normal relationship where you can receive love from your partner and a lot less chaos! A good relationship with someone who there 1st love is not alcohol, drugs, sex addict, or some other dysfunctional relationship. You can stay but must realize the cycle is what your in for until/unless he decides to recover and this may or may not happen. Try to see WHAT IS compared to what you want it to be–reality. We women get caught up in the dream they love us enough to recover, but many of us have been disappointed as our A’s jumped to other women even the low life kinda women. Alcoholics much of the time will choose alcohol over us. If you continue to try and change him he will just play you till your used up and then he’ll move on. It has nothing to do with us but what’s inside of them and it can be deep. It all comes down to what you want for your future. Bothe decisions are very hard and it hurts. but since you are not married you have a chance to run, get healed, and find something better for yourself and have a happier future! Married people can also make this decision but it’s harder especially if children are involved.

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