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Dating an Addict: 5 “Green” flags to look for if you want the relationship to work.

Addictions, Counseling & Coaching, Uncategorized0 comments

Photo by Logan Weaver on Unsplash

If you’re dating an addict of any kind, it would behoove you to know what “green” flags to look for.  Green meaning signs that point to a potential fruitful, healthy, and engaging relationship as opposed to one sucked into a vortex of secrecy, lies, and cover-ups.

As a psychotherapist specializing in trauma and addictions, here are 5 of the biggest “green” signs to look for:

1)   Acknowledges the addiction: If you suspect someone is struggling with an addiction, chances are you’re right.  If they get defensive and demand they have the right to their drug of your choice then you’re headed towards a relationship rife with problems. 

 However, if the addict is forthcoming and acknowledges the addiction early in the relationship to you or is actively either in recovery or open to it, then this can bode well for a coupleship.

2)    Emotional connectedness:  When an addict is in recovery, their desire is for a connection as opposed to distancing themselves from you even more.  The opposite of connection is when you get a sense your partner is “not present” with you or other significant friends or family members.  This one may be hard to discern because addicts may have learned how to hide in their addictions.  But once again based on intuition, you may feel something is amiss in the relationship as your desires to spend time together, enjoy activities, or draw emotionally closer may be rebuffed due to the addict’s need to live in the addiction.

3)   Physical stability:  Addicts in the midst of their addiction will lose sleep, forego hunger pangs and do whatever it takes to get their addiction met.  In short, these addicts will most likely have physiological changes due to not getting enough sleep, rest, or food.  But addicts in recovery will try and maintain some semblance of routine and consistency in their physical realm knowing the physical impacts of the emotional/spiritual components of recovery.

4)   Cognitive Distortions: Addicts in healthy recovery take accountability for their past actions and can tell you how they have been in denial and how they have blamed and groomed others into dismissing their problematic behaviors.  However, addicts who you want to stay away from are those who bombard you with an endless litany of excuses, rationalizations, and project their problems onto you, and may even blame you for your concerns.

5)     Prioritizing the Relationship over the Addiction: Healthy men and women in recovery will prioritize their relationship over the addiction.  In other words, they are not only getting help but strive to improve their relationships by finding ways to continually improve how they relate, listen, and accept feedback from their partners.  In contrast, addicts to avoid are those who want to both maintain their romantic relationships while also staying in a relationship with their addictions.  These addicts may want to keep their partners but in the end, their actions demonstrate the need for their addiction above all else.

The reality from my counseling perspective is many addicts don’t know they’re addicts until their partners have the courage and conviction to confront them and draw healthy boundaries.  When partners of addicts communicate unequivocally that the addiction is not acceptable and if the addict shows remorse, contrition, and demonstrative behavioral changes (i.e. getting into therapy, reading books, breaking denial, etc.), then these are also “green” flags that the potential for a healthy future exists. 

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