Understanding Why An Alcoholic Cannot Love And How To Love Them In Return

By: Tanisha Herrin

Updated February 05, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault

Developing or sustaining a relationship with a diagnosed alcoholic may not always be easy, however you are not alone, and neither are they. Alcoholism and addiction recovery are a process that you need to support yourself in, as well. A therapist can help you work through the hardships of someone close to you recovering from alcoholism. On top of that, anyone can benefit from therapy, and a therapist can help you empower yourself to reach your goals and improve your overall well-being.

Is it true an alcoholic cannot love? Anyone who has experienced a difficult relationship with their partner due to alcoholism knows the hardships of loving someone that may love drinking more than anything else. In this case, a partner with an addiction is likely dealing with emotional conflicts that make focusing on other priorities a struggle.

Studies show millions of people deal with alcohol abuse or addiction with few deciding to get professional help. Therefore, more people are dealing with alcoholism, including codependency in which an alcoholic may have an unhealthy relationship with drinking but depend on alcohol to help them cope with their problems. Having a healthy relationship with your partner is almost impossible when drinking gets out of control.

Even during the recovery process, certain elements of a relationship remain murky, and one may have doubts about how long the relationship will last. When you're willing to what you can to show your partner you love them despite their addiction, it helps to learn other ways to show you care in hopes of helping them to improve their health and outlook on life.

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Why Alcoholics Struggle To Love Others

When alcohol plays a role in a relationship, things go downhill quickly. You see changes in your loved one that's hard to accept. Some hurt so bad watching their partner drink away at the problems they rather deal with their partner and their drinking than to leave them. While it is a personal choice to stay with an alcoholic, it helps to gain further understanding of what your partner is doing when they choose to drink. When in a difficult relationship with an alcoholic, you're likely to experience the following:

  • Lack of support, respect, and love from your partner you deserve. An alcoholic may say they support, respect, and love you, but their actions prove otherwise.
  • Danger to your life if alcohol has led to abusive behavior. Alcohol is known to influence violent behaviors, including physical conflicts that include hurting themselves or others.
  • Difficulty leaving a partner due to being isolated from people who are a voice of reason. People around you may say you should leave your partner, but they may get fed up with related behaviors and choose to distance themselves, seeing how much the relationship is taking a toll on you.
  • Codependency is inevitable. There are different types of alcoholism with some not able to do daily tasks without having a drink first. Others may rely on alcohol when dealing with emotional stress or turn to it to help them deal with difficult situations. Such codependency may become an overpowering force in a relationship.
  • Increased likelihood of verbal abuse when alcohol is an influential factor in situations such as lying, cheating, or financial strain. Such situations may be reoccurring problems in a relationship resulting in a partner being verbally abused during arguments or disagreements.
  • Feel as if you're not having the relationship you should or used to have that includes your well-being being a priority. You want your partner to care about your health as much as you do about theirs.

An important factor that suffers tremendously is trust. An alcoholic may lie or steal from people who care about them, sometimes to fuel their habit. They say they will show up somewhere and don't. They break promises, especially those related to their drinking habit. Gaining their trust will be difficult unless they are getting help for their alcoholism.

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Your living situation may become unstable, creating instability in your relationship. An alcoholic may not be dependable when making plans to do something or to go somewhere. Sometimes drinking too much may create legal problems leading to jail time. Some become uncomfortable inviting people to their home because they are afraid of how their partner will react if alcohol is present. The behavior of an alcoholic may change so quickly you don't know what to expect. An alcoholic's behavior may be enabled by people that care about them unintentionally.

Don't Blame Yourself For Your Partner's Drinking Issue

Avoid taking things personally when your partner chooses to drink. Alcoholics place blame on others for their drinking when they are stressed, pressured, or worried. They will drink even if you have nothing to do with their urge. It is not your fault they have a problem with their drinking because they are in control of their actions. It is considered a disease because it alters how the brain functions. Alternatively, don't take it personally if they choose to drink instead of choosing you. Alcoholics struggle to make decisions because they are not in control of them when under the influence.

What You Should Understand Before Trying To Help

It is difficult trying to convince your loved one to get help, but there are a few things to reiterate to help gain clarity of your situation. Someone defined as an alcoholic is dealing with alcoholism, a term medical experts say is a form of the disease. You cannot make someone drink, nor is there a cure. Alcohol rehabilitation facilities provide hope and renewed perspective through programs designed to provide guidance and recovery along with support from friends and family.

Many admit they have a difficult time accepting their loved one has an alcohol problem, but in many cases, a drinker finds it even more challenging to admit they have a problem. You can do everything in your power to show your support from taking them to their appointments and engaging in healthy habits with them to help solve problems. But ultimately, whatever you do the addiction itself can't be controlled by your actions.

Sometimes you have to take a step back and let things take its course. You or others that care about your loved one may have tried time and again to help them or even rescued them during their time of need. While some feel their loved one should be with someone during a crisis, sometimes it may delay the loved one from choosing to get help for their addiction. When it comes down to it, many alcoholics realize they need professional help after others have turned their back on them.

Sometimes Tough Love Must Be Enforced

You love your partner, and you love yourself, but you need to put your foot down and let your loved one know certain behaviors are unacceptable. Boundaries need to be in place for your mental and physical well-being. If not, your loved one may find it easier to manipulate you. Let them know consequences will be enforced when they cross the line. It is important to understand this because alcoholics are masterful manipulators when getting others to do things for them. Learn how to be assertive. Be clear when stating your actions and stand firm by your word. Some examples might be: "I'm not living with you until you seek help," or "I'm not lending money to you anymore."

Take Care Of Yourself And Put You First

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Sometimes self-care gets thrown out the window in relationships with alcoholism. An alcoholic puts a strain on others because they influence actions, thoughts, and words spoken by people that care about them. It is a problem when you expect someone with an unhealthy habit to act healthy. The aspect of codependency fuels their addiction. A sober person may rely on support from friends or family if they feel down, hurt, or stressed to help them feel better. But, an enabler has the same effect on someone who is addicted to alcohol.

Help yourself first if you want to help someone else. You need to be at your best, so you can provide the best support possible to your loved one. It allows you to be at a distance from your loved one but still help them at the same time because they won't be able to influence your health or cross boundaries.

Get Support From Others Who Can Relate

Providing support to an alcoholic may be stressful. Family and friends of alcoholics find comfort and support by joining local and online support groups. These groups provide informative insight from people helping their loved one through the recovery process. You may also learn ways to make things a little easier for you and your loved one while helping them cope. Such groups provide guidance and insight on how to surrender alcohol obsession and how to let go of the control associated with trying to influence better choices. You can learn how to manage your life and be happy. Many groups don't require you to share personal information about your situation, so you can simply be in attendance and listen to information shared by others.

Telling your loved one you love them and that you will support them is a good start. However, they need to commit to making changes that include getting professional help for their alcoholism upon admitting they have a drinking problem. They should be willing to make changes if they want to see positive progress. They should want to do better not just for you, but for themselves. Some may try to avoid the situation or think they can work their way around it, but if alcoholism isn't addressed, it may lead to additional destruction. As long as both partners are willing to work things out and remain hopeful, your loved one can get sober and stay that way.


Can you really love an alcoholic?

Loving an alcoholic may pose significant challenges to your mental health, especially if the person you're with has substance abuse issues with alcohol. In a codependent relationship, if a partner has substance abuse issues, the relationship isn't healthy. A codependent relationship suffers when both partners are not equally invested in the relationship due to substance addiction. You may deal with other issues such as broken trust and instability.

People with substance use disorders may have mental health concerns they have yet to confront through a treatment program focusing on substance abuse treatment. Specialized treatment facilities with quality recovery programs help alcoholics learn how to connect and express their emotions, so they don't rely on alcohol.

As much as you care about someone with substance abuse or behavioral health concerns, it may also be a lonely and painful experience. It is one thing to want a relationship with someone struggling with substance abuse and to be a part of their addiction treatment and recovery support. However, you'll need to understand that some alcoholics don't want to face the truth about their addiction.

Family members are often first to witness such behavior, especially when suggesting to their loved one they should go to a treatment center or treatment program for help. Family, friends of alcoholics hurt when seeing someone they care about struggle with addiction. Failing to do so can make it harder to sustain a healthy relationship. If they receive a dual diagnosis related to their dependence that includes a mental health concern such as depression or anxiety, along with alcohol addiction, it puts more pressure on one's behavioral health.

If substance abuse of alcohol or drug abuse remains active, it makes loving that person more challenging. Remember, the person you love has to understand aspects of sober living, how it affects their mental health, and how to apply them to the life they want. Sober living may be challenging for an alcoholic initially, which could affect their behavioral health and how they cope with their feelings. Be mindful of your actions and how you respond to them, especially if they are under the influence. You can't control their actions, nor can you cure their condition.

Coping with substance abuse disorders and behavioral health concerns takes much effort on their part to see favorable results. It likely includes participating in a substance abuse treatment option. Intervention may come through family, friends, treatment facilities, addiction treatment options, and support groups, but they need to be willing to take responsibility for their addiction. Peer support through group counseling helps share personal stories about their alcoholic struggles through a recovery blog. A recovery center for alcoholics provides support.

Can you date an alcoholic?

Many recall personal stories about themselves of someone they know about learning the person they were dating was an alcoholic. Some people may date an active alcoholic and not know it yet. People who join support groups for alcoholism ask this question. Some who are dealing with substance abuse may also be a functioning alcoholic. They may hide their active addiction if you're just getting to know each other or you don't live together. It is possible not to know they have substance abuse or mental health problem, especially if they don't display signs such as behavioral health issues. They could have an addiction recovery plan they started, such as medication-assisted treatment, but have yet to mention their active addiction if you just started dating.

Do alcoholics remember what they say?

Many alcoholics have personal stories discussed in a recovery blog talking about their behavior while under the influence. It is common for family, friends to grow concerned when a loved one under the influence seems out of it while talking. Some alcoholics don't remember what they say before having too much to drink. Heavy drinkers can have behavioral health concerns if they forget certain events before drinking, especially if they have enough alcohol causing them to blackout.

Sometimes heavy drinkers have undetected mental health concerns leading to drinking binges. When your emotional health is a concern, alcohol use may influence unhealthy behavioral health patterns. Sometimes drug abuse contributes to mental health concerns. Sometimes an alcoholic may not remember what they did and consider that as a sign, they should check into a recovery center or treatment program.

How many drinks a day is considered alcoholism?

Family, friends may notice a loved one consuming more drinks than usual, but how much is considered too much? Behavioral health experts suggest women drinking seven or more, and men drinking 15 or more is deemed to be excessive. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one drink is considered 12 fluid ounces. Early on, active alcoholics may not realize they have substance abuse or mental health problem.

People with alcohol-related concerns may not realize they have a problem with alcohol in the beginning because the drinking grows gradually. A person with drug abuse or behavioral health problems may increase their alcohol consumption too. Recovery support for both situations is available through designated treatment program options providing substance abuse treatment.

Should you drink in front of an alcoholic?

Through a recovery blog, alcoholics have shared personal stories about feeling uncomfortable around others who drink. Mental health experts say drinking alcohol in front of an alcoholic or someone with substance abuse problems could be detrimental to their behavioral health and recovery. It could alter their decision-making and encourage unhealthy actions. If you care about someone who is recovering, you will avoid this action. Family members and friends of a recovering alcoholic can set an example and show their support by not drinking alcohol in front of an alcoholic.

Alcoholics may have a medication-assisted treatment option as part of their addiction recovery. It includes talk therapy and prescribed medications to cope with emotions. The medication-assisted treatment option may help sustain recovery and improve their behavioral health. When family, friends refrain from drinking, it helps encourage their loved ones to do the same.

Why can't I stop drinking once I start?

A mental health concern, such as how you deal with painful emotions, maybe behind why it's hard to stop drinking. People with substance abuse problems may not realize they depend on a substance to deal with emotional pain. People with eating disorders or behavioral health concerns may develop an alcohol problem if they use alcohol in place of food to avoid gaining weight. You may have an alcohol dependency where you feel the need to drink. Some feel the need in the morning when waking up while others want a drink when feeling worried about something. Family, friends may notice behavior changes if their loved one is drinking more often.

Active alcoholics may plan to drink when gathering with friends, family members, or coworkers. When under constant stress from work, home, debt, and legal problems, such pressure could lead to excessive drinking. Alcoholics learn more about behavioral health habits behind their drinking when taking part in treatment center programs for addiction recovery.  Alcoholics are at risk for substance use disorders when dealing with substance and emotional challenges. Such information is crucial to understanding how to achieve sober living. Few find treatment program options such as medication-assisted treatment helpful to help them stop drinking.

What defines an alcoholic?

Active alcoholics may not be able to control their consumption of alcohol. An alcoholic may have mental health and emotional problems when they are not drinking. A person may rely on alcohol to help them get through the day known as functioning alcoholics, they need to drink to keep them focused on tasks, but people may not realize initially they have a drinking problem. Sometimes an alcoholic has a drug addiction problem or other behavioral health concerns, making their alcohol issues direr.

There are treatment facilities and treatment program options such as medication-assisted treatment that address problems with alcohol or drugs or both. Specialized treatment options are available through the Center of Excellence services designed for addiction support and treatment, including underage drinking problems. Such opportunities provide personalized recovery options for substance use disorders based on patient needs.

What is considered an alcoholic?

An alcoholic is defined by how often and how much they drink and elements related to their behavioral health habits. A woman who consumes eight or more drinks a week could be considered an excessive drinker. A man who consumes 15 or more a week may be defined the same. Their drink of choice is also considered with 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits consumed regularly as additional clues.

An alcoholic may have issues related to eating disorders that include unresolved conflicts from their past. It may influence emotional hurting and behavioral health concerns behind their drinking habits or be a reason behind drug addiction. A family member or close friend may be the first to notice drink habit changes. Different treatment center options for substance abuse disorders may have a detailed definition to help alcoholics understand their current status. Specialized treatment centers, such as a Center of Excellence, provide options to help cope with substance and mental conditions of adults and youth engaging in underage drinking.

Sometimes an alcoholic may have a dual diagnosis or substance use disorders. A dual diagnosis includes having substance issues with drugs or alcohol along with a mental health concern such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety. Recovery programs with evidence-based treatment options, such as a Center of Excellence, have shown effectiveness in treating related substance use disorders. Young people under the legal age who engage in underage drinking could develop alcohol dependencies.

How can you tell if someone is drunk through text?

You receive a text during odd hours when you're sleeping. A drunk person may use few words while texting. They send you messages intended for someone else, especially messages that seem inappropriate or of sexual content. They claim they love you. They send text after text until you respond. Some messages you can't make out because it is gibberish. If they are your ex, they might try to get back with you. They may admit to lies from the past without reason. They send long rambling messages about nothing. People that know someone with a drinking problem may suspect they also have a drug abuse problem or need addiction treatment.

Do true feelings come out when drunk?

A person's mental health and how they communicate with others becomes questionable when alcohol is a factor. Some researchers believe this is true because of the way alcohol affects your thinking and behavioral health. A person under the influence of alcohol may perceive situations differently or in exaggeration. They may say what is on their mind while under the influence, and it is likely to be true.

Does alcohol make you hornier?             

Alcohol could make you feel more relaxed, affectionate, and horny via sexual confidence. Studies have shown it could increase hormones related to sexual behaviors in men and women. However, alcohol could increase or decrease your ability to get sexually aroused. Some experience problems before getting an orgasm. Others may engage in risky sexual behavior.

How do you know you have a drinking problem?

Acknowledging you have a problem is a positive step toward personal growth and sober living. While medical advice, diagnosis from a health expert is essential to recognizing your status, there are some clues to look for when suspecting a problem. You may find it challenging to be comfortable without having a drink. Some experience sweating, nausea, and difficulty in going to sleep at night without a drink.

Sometimes mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression is a factor when determining a substance abuse problem like alcoholism. There are treatment center options providing addiction treatment and recovery support. Treatment program options such as medication-assisted treatment help alcoholics understand the nature of their addiction.

When seeking help for a drinking problem or substance use disorders, medical experts recommend choosing a Center of Excellence to ensure your needs are met. Most treatment programs are not regulated, so finding recovery programs to meet your needs requires in-depth research and comparison. Substance abuse treatment options defined as a Center of Excellence provide quality treatment programs to ensure the best practices for addiction treatment.

Look for a Center of Excellence option with quality experience providing personalized substance abuse treatment for addiction. Check your state to see if it gives any regulations for substance abuse treatment options. A Center of Excellence option has accreditation, qualified medical staff, advanced technology platforms, and evidence-based services for patients. A Center of Excellence treatment option may also provide treatment for dual diagnosis patients with substance use disorders.

Does drinking everyday make you an alcoholic?

Drinking occasionally for many people is okay when controlled. When it progresses to drinking daily, it could signal your drinking habits are going in an unhealthy direction. Drinking in moderation is okay, but when you start having multiple drinks a day, it could be a problem. For men, drinking more than four a day or 14 in a week, or for women drinking more than three a day or more than seven a week, could signal a drinking problem. Some people may have mental health concerns that influence their drinking habits but don't realize it. Center of Excellence options helps patients learn more about how their emotions are affected through high-quality treatment programs.

Is it normal to drink every night?

Drinking every evening may be okay, but if it becomes a regular activity such as drinking during the day that includes an increased progression, it could raise health risks. The key is to drink in moderation. If you're drinking more often, you're likely using alcohol as a way to cope with emotional hurting or underlying mental health concerns. Using alcohol to deal with your emotions increases the risk for substance use disorders.

Who is most likely to become an alcoholic?

Anyone with concerns about advice, diagnosis, or treatment of alcoholism may wonder who is at risk. People coping with mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder are at risk. Some studies suggest people who work high-stress occupations or have a family history of drinking problems or drug addiction are at risk. Consuming too much alcohol and drugs increases the risk of substance use disorders.

Young people engaging in underage drinking are at risk because they start drinking alcohol at an early age. Underage drinking involves people under the legal age engaging in alcohol consumption. When people start drinking underage, it raises their risk of developing substance use disorders and legal problems later in life. Center of Excellence options provides specialized support for underage drinking patients.

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