The first thing that most people notice when dating the child of an alcoholic is that they usually have intimacy issues. They find it quite difficult to form intimate relationships. They have a lot of trust issues as well as self-esteem issues. So usually, they try the much they cannot get close to other people. So, some find themselves sabotaging these relationships the moment they realize that someone is trying to get a little closer to them.
So today on Love is All Colors, we are going to examine how alcoholism affects relationships. Let’s dive in…
Loving an adult child of an alcoholic
Before we even get into it, when speaking of intimacy in relationships, we are talking about all forms of close relationships – platonic, romantic, and any other relationships that might lead to one showing their vulnerability to another person. One thing that is evident is that intimacy in alcoholic relationships can be quite difficult to cultivate. And this is because kids od alcoholics find it hard to allow themselves to feel emotional attachment as well as allow their emotional needs to be met.
Most adults who have exposed to alcoholism site one common characteristic… difficulty in cultivating intimate relationships. Their past experiences impact even their adult romantic relationships. Unfortunate as it is, this is the reality for most people. And the impact of the experiences of children of alcoholics can be very serious. However, there is some hope. And if you are a couple, together you can seek to overcome these effects and understand your partner better.
Well here are some of the things you need to know when dating the child of an alcoholic and how alcoholism affects relationships.
Signs that you are in a relationship with a child of an alcoholic
There are some common traits that you can be aware of that can make you see the effects of unloved child syndrome and alcoholism in the family of the person you are dating. Here are some of the signs they might show:
Survivors by nature
You will notice that in most adult children of alcoholic relationships, the partner who experienced alcoholism in their family is usually prepared for crisis. The exhibit signs of being comfortable with conflict and chaos. They are always ready to face crisis and are always anticipating for things to go wrong. Dealing with crisis is subconsciously their comfort zone.
They have trust issues
If the person you are dating has trust issues that have got nothing to do with their past relationships, chances are that those trust issues are coming from a deeper place – experiences of childhood. Adult children of alcoholics are used to the lack of stability in their childhood lives. This is because they have either been repeatedly lied to and also suffer from unloved child syndrome. Because of this, they are anticipating that you will probably turn out to be like the parents. This makes intimacy in alcoholic relationships difficult. They are afraid of being hurt if they trust you.
They tend to be perfectionists
As they turn in to adults, kids who have experiences with alcoholism in a parent tend to become perfectionists. They usually blame themselves for almost everything and always feel the need to be perfect. They tend to criticize themselves and suffer from low self-esteem. This striving for perfection makes them constantly seek for approval and affirmation that they never got during childhood. Which means, they might find themselves doing things they normally wouldn’t do just to please other people.
They like spending time alone
Isolationism is another sign you will notice when you are loving an adult child of an alcoholic. Usually when growing such people may have had to spend time on their own because the parents were rarely present. This need to be alone usually carries on into adulthood. They tend to be loners and prefer spending time alone. They feel that they are safer alone as opposed to being in a relationship.
They fear intimacy and have issues expressing their feelings
This is one of the other signs that manifests itself. It is usually because these kids have spent all their lives trying to bottle their feelings and emotions. Usually, its because they were constantly scared of annoying their alcoholic parents and spiking their rage. So in such a relationship, expect communication issues.
They fear authority figures
When a person grows up with at least one parent that is an alcoholic, fear is usually one of the things that they have. They grow up fearing the parents. So as adults, they tend to fear anyone who exercises or has some power over them. – from the boss to police, to even an authoritative partner. So they tend to always conform to the demands of these people even when these demands clash with their beliefs and values.
They get addicted to excitement
When dating the child of an alcoholic, you will notice that these adults thrive on drama. They are addicted to excitement which is meant to mask the emotions they didn’t have growing up. So, they tend to seek out dangerous things to do and are usually poor decision-makers just to gain some stimulation.
What you need to know…
The effects of adult children of alcoholic relationships are that they usually seem unsolvable. But with understanding and some communication, these are things that you can overcome. If you know that your partner has had such a childhood, try and talk to them about it. Remember not to push things though. Give them time to talk to you when they are ready to open up. You have the chance to rewrite the future together.
The most important thing is to work on building trust between the two of you. Try and increase communication between the two of you as well as increase intimacy between the two of you. When you are dating the child of an alcoholic open up yourself to vulnerability. This will help create a safe space for your partner to be open to talk and confide in you.
Also, try and do some research about their childhood experiences and how they have shaped how they relate to people and how they relate to you as a significant other. Try and understand how such experiences also affect how they communicate too. The thing is, loving such a person who has had to live with parents that were or are alcoholics comes with its own set of challenges. Empathy, compassion, and understanding can smoothen these challenges.
Ask your partner if they are willing and ready to talk about their experiences. Depending on how traumatizing the experiences were, they may not be that open to talk about them at the initial stages of the relationship. One way to make them open up is to at least make them aware that you are there for them and that you are willing to listen. Also, try and build their trust by also opening up about the vulnerable experiences that you may have gone through. The more you share about your own experiences, the faster you will build a strong basis of openness and trust.
Communication is the key to redefine and separate your relationship from the alcoholism of the parents. You need to understand that we learn most of our behavior from our parents. Understand that what your partner considers normal in a relationship could be what they have learned growing up. If you can’t handle the challenges you are facing, you can always seek professional help.
In case you missed this, follow the link and read this article about how social anxiety can affect your dating life.