It is a natural fear that once we reveal something painful about ourselves to another that the individual may turn away from us. Telling someone you care about (or are beginning to care about) that you are an alcoholic may, in some instances, frighten that person off. If that’s the case, your relationship with that person would have deteriorated anyway, somewhere down the line. The person simply cannot deal with alcoholism, whether it is you or someone else. This could be for any number of reasons: stigma, family history, past bad experiences with an alcoholic, preconceptions, etc. You cannot change how the person feels or predict how they will react. This is just the price of being honest. In fact, things will get much ugly when your partner experiences drug withdrawal.
One thing is certain. If you fail to tell the truth and it comes out later, and it will, the consequences will be worse than if you are honest now. Think about it realistically. Would you not rather know something this profound about a loved one rather than it being kept from you? Caring about another means that you offer full disclosure – no secrets!
What happens after you tell this person that you care about that you are an alcoholic? Individuals react differently. Some will ask a lot of questions, seeking to understand or know what, when, how, how long, etc., what stage of recovery you are in, or many details. Others may just take it in and say they need time to think about it. After all, the revelation is a pretty big one. Naturally, it takes time to digest and come to terms with the knowledge.
Maybe there will be a cooling-off period, or a hiatus, or a total break. You need to be prepared for any and all of them. After some time, the person may come back, having accepted the facts of your circumstance and wanting to proceed with the relationship. Or, they may not be able to commit to an ongoing relationship with you – not necessarily because of your alcoholism, although it could be that, but because of their own attitudes and beliefs about alcoholism and their perceived or actual inability to deal with it.
Again, there is nothing you can do about the other person’s reaction to what you say or the consequences afterward. When you share this much of yourself with another, it is scary, painful, and fraught with uncertainty. How can it not be? All you can do, then, is to convey how much the person means to you and how you want to be upfront and honest.
Say what you need to say. Do it sooner rather than later. Be caring, direct, choose your words carefully, and speak from the heart. If what you have is the real thing – genuine affection for another – your words and your actions (speaking the truth in a caring manner) will carry a lot of weight. They will mean something to the other person. What it means for your future relationship together is something that you have no control over now.
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Last modified: October 23, 2021