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Can Addiction Be Overcome? How?

answered 11:00 AM EST, Sat March 22, 2014
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anonymous anonymous
My so called boyfriend has an online dating site addiction. He does not know that I know this. He gets on every day several times a day looking at other women. When I confronted him once about it he lied to me and said the is just giving them polite "nos" to say he is in a relationship. He is an alcholic in recovery. I know he answers emails from women. I do not suspect that he is meeting them at this time... but he definitely has the addiction of looking and contacting them. Can an expert weigh in on how to break this addiction. I do believe that he loves me.. but he has a longstanding habit of lying to hide alcohol drinking..

I would like to trust him as he is in recovery and in meetings almost every day... but seeing that he is logged in to the dating website every day is really hurting my feelings.

Even if I dump him, we will remain friends and I am concerned about this obvious addiction.

Delisted Expert Says...

Absolutely I believe that people have the power to change their lives and overcome addictions of any type - but "how" is a question with simple answers and many complexities.  It is always a positive thing when we express our concern for our loved ones - mates and friends - but it is equally positive and important to keep healthy boundaries in mind.

He indeed may love you, but his "addiction" does not and never will (even sex/love addiction is not about the other person).  He may be completely trustworthy as a person, but his "addiction" never will be.  I definitely understand hurt feelings, but it is about his addiction, not you - if you can think about it in a way that you don't take personally his transgressions, perhaps that can ease the hurt.  

That said, here are a number of essential elements for people to overcome addition.  First, they must recognize that there is an issue that is not healthy or is keeping them from leading the life they want - an addiction is running the show.  And because a person might be able to tackle one addiction, does not mean he can now tackle two.  Second, a person must find the method or methods that enable them to successfully navigate life on their own terms and not at the mercy of addiction.  Third, they must employ faithfully and diligently those methods to live a healthier life and to build/rebuild relationships that they want to create/maintain.  

It is important to note that this reply does not say "someone else must point out the addiction" or "someone else must find the best treatment for their loved one."  There is definitely help to be found in supportive relationships,treatment groups, confrontation, family healing, etc., but the bottom line is that the person battling the addiction must recognize and do and make choices for him or herself.

As always, even if the issues are about someone else/someone you love, you can always seek a qualified addictions or mental health counselor and just talk about the issues at hand.  Counselors can provide education, support, and information about addictions and healthy, appropriate boundaries.  Self-help books, support groups and community education resources can provide some of the same.

A person on the outside must protect him or herself with appropriate, healthy boundaries, first and foremost.  Help and support can be offered, resources, direction, if desired, but as the "addiction" is not trustworthy nor altruistic and is incapable of offering anything except pain, the person on the outside must guard herself first.  As with the airplane speech  - "in the event of loss of cabin pressure, put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others" - the same is true in establishing healthy boundaries.  A person on the outside may decide that keeping her own oxygen flowing might mean ending a relationship, or a friendship, and that does not mean the sincerity or depth of caring is any less.  

You cannot battle his addiction or addictions, and you definitely don't have to try to sort this out alone.  Seek help - in your community, church, or from licensed counselors.  Education, information, support, and assistance keeping an eye on healthy boundaries can help you feel stronger, contribute to healthy choices for both of you, and maybe even inspire your loved one to seek more help.  Best wishes to you.  


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Page last updated Apr 12, 2014

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