iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Kristen Houghton

GET UPDATES FROM Kristen Houghton
 

The Love of a Good Woman Will Not Change a Bad Man

Posted: 04/30/2012 6:23 pm

There is no more toxic type of couple than that of an enabler and an addict or alcoholic.

Women have been trying to "save" bad men from themselves since before recorded time. There were more than likely a few Cro-Magnon women who were sacrificing their own existence trying to save their Cro-Magnon males from dangerous addictions. It is, unfortunately, a female thing.

No one has ever satisfactorily explained why any woman goes on the save-the-bad-man campaign. Psychiatrists and sociologists certainly have their theories about why certain women try to save men from themselves, and most of it centers on some supposed emotional flaw in the woman. This is not always true. Even the sanest, most reasonable women among us seem to have the idea that their love, patience and support will save someone who can't or won't save himself.

This saving state of mind crosses all social strata. From the famous acting legend Katharine Hepburn trying to save the sadly alcoholic Spencer Tracy to a close friend you know who is involved in a disastrous relationship with an addict, the tale of a woman trying to save her man from himself is classic.

An addict and an enabler are a toxic mix. As soon as addiction enters a relationship, the poisoning begins, and few couples survive it. Don't believe that your relationship will be one of the few. Chances are good that it won't. There is no sugarcoating this situation. Unless there is a firm commitment from the addict to seek help and end the addiction immediately, the enabler should not hesitate to leave.

As an enabler, you are part of a combustible relationship. Your love and financial support are allowing him to be the way he is. You are giving him the permission and the means to stay an addict. Subconsciously, you are blinded by strong feelings for the addict and
hope that by being understanding and taking care of him he will change his behavior. What you fail to realize is that you are being cleverly played by a man whose next fix or high means more to him than you ever will. It is a disease, but it is one that the addict will seek out no matter what you do for him.

Get counseling.
You need counseling. You are as much, or in some cases more of a victim of the addict's problem as he is. A counselor will help you understand that leaving him is the only option for a healthy life. Even if you feel you can cope with leaving on your own, you need to remember that you had a hard time coping with the original issue of being part of a toxic couple.

Counseling helps. A counselor can give you a detached perspective on the situation and what you are going through. He or she can help you face the hard facts of your decision and suggest ways for you to cope and begin a new life. Your therapist can help you understand why you might be attracted to the type of man who has an addictive personality and give you some pointers on not repeating your mistakes in the future.

Cancel the guilt trip -- you are not to blame.
A woman who is living with an addict or alcoholic can easily feel that his addiction is somehow her fault. It is a mothering role. Subconsciously, you feel that his habit reflects badly on you personally, as if you didn't do enough to prevent this from happening to him. Understand that it
didn't just happen; he actively pursued addiction. Addicts are adept at placing the blame for their addiction on everyone except themselves. Don't fall for it. An addict becomes one by choice. Unless you brought the drugs home and force-fed them to him, you are not to blame. You need to understand that while his addiction is not your fault, it has become your problem.

It is a similar story with an alcoholic. Alcoholics do not see their drinking as a problem. They can handle it, they function better after drinking; you're the one who has a problem! This is especially true if you are joining them in their drinking. Before you begin to believe this, you have to take a different path and leave. If you are both an enabler and an addict, your priority is to get help for yourself first. You can help no one unless you do this.

Forgive yourself... and heal.
Don't have misplaced guilt. This is human emotional nature. The person you find hardest to
forgive comes as no surprise --it is you. Not forgiving yourself for failing to help someone whose problem is beyond your control is fruitless. Forgiveness of self is a necessary part of healing any damage in your past.

Take enough time to begin your life anew.
Any traumatic situation you have survived in your life will take recovery time. Give yourself plenty of time before you think about dating again. Take at least a year to settle your life and have some "alone time" to consider what you've been through and how you will improve your life. This is the time to be good to yourself. It is okay to be a little selfish. In fact, a little selfishness is a healthy and necessary ingredient to be happy.

Make sure to learn from your past.
You need to move on from the past, absolutely. But you need to make sure that you've learned something important about yourself and what you want in a relationship. Realize how very much any relationship can impact your life for good or bad. Write down, in detail, what you expect from a partner -- and write down what you will definitely not accept. It has been said before, but it needs to be repeated: This is real life, not a movie with a happy ending where your love changes a "bad" man. If you are willing to live that fantasy, you will be waiting for a happy ending that never comes.

Reality is not all bad. In fact, it shows you what your options are and the truth about what you are capable of doing with your life. You are in charge of what you do.

© 2012 copyright Kristen Houghton

Excerpt from:
"And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First" ranked in the top 100 books by Tower Books.com
new by Kristen Houghton

Kristen Houghton is the author of the hilarious new book, No Woman Diets Alone - There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut in the top 10 hot new releases at Amazon available now on Kindle, Nook, and all e-book venues.

You may email her at kch@kristenhoughton.com.

 
 
 

Follow Kristen Houghton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kristenhoughton

FOLLOW WOMEN