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Should He Move In With Me?

Man With Backpack

flamingarcher is wary to follow through on plans to move in with her Loved One. She expresses fears about the future, missing red flags, and boundaries violated. On the other hand, she knows that her support could be vital as her partner as he navigates early sobriety.

My loved one has stopped using drugs and alcohol as he realized abuse was draining our relationship and bringing it close to breaking points. Saving the relationship has become the priority for him and he decided to cut alcohol completely very recently. We had been planning for months to move in together in a few weeks time yet after many promises being broken and after the break of trust that happens when addiction is still active, I find myself resisting this move. I fear being blind to other red flags, I fear more promises being broken, I fear turning into the fool of the situation. While he has given me reason to believe he wants to stay sober and respect my boundaries, I feel the love for him has been clouded because of the continuous break of trust and the fights that addiction causes. Moving in with me would provide that sober environment that could support his transformation yet it means him moving to another country where I would be his main contact and support – potentially financially too. I don't know if I should wait for more signs of his recovery or make him feel my full support and trust in his recovery by welcoming him to the life I have built abroad. I want him to feel fully supported in his commitments and I know how important the relationship is in this yet I feel drained and fearful of being hurt and disrespected again.

You are in a relationship with someone with addiction issues. It has caused your relationship to fray, though he is making an effort now. The question is whether to go through with having him move in with you, which involves his moving to a new country.

I feel your tenderness towards your partner and the desire you both have to make the relationship work. It is great news that he is making efforts to clean things up. This is encouraging. Yet you don’t trust him completely… He is early in sobriety. This is a tenuous time during which the Loved One requires a strong system of support.

Could your home and support be the deciding factor in keeping him sober? It could help, but at what cost to you? The feelings of mistrust; any lapses in his progress with the drinking – these two things alone might eat away at you. You could feel instantly trapped, and suffer the loss of privacy and safety in the space of your home.

Your partner would be starting from scratch in a country where he has no other ties than with you. You would have to help him financially to get on his feet.

Will he stay sober if he moves in with you? This is hard to predict.

If I knew everything about the both of you: your histories, his past efforts at getting and staying alcohol- and drug-free, etc. I might be able to make an educated guess.

But it would still only be a guess.

If it were me in this situation, I would want to see a good long stretch of my Loved One being drug and alcohol free, if abstinence is his goal. I would want to see him participating in solid recovery activities. I’d be aiming for 9 months minimum, a community of concern, and professional help as needed if there are lingering mental health or other such issues. I would also want to have a couples counselor in the mix early on, to help overcome the bumps that come with being in relationship with someone relatively new to recovery. In summary, he would need to get his own footing in your country and show stability and showing-up skills for recovery before I would have him move in.

I’m sure the logistics make this difficult, but this is your life too. You need action and evidence that he is doing the work of staying off drugs. From this perspective, what is 9 months when this person could potentially be your life-mate? It is crippling to be in love with someone who is not sober. You would also need to learn to set strong boundaries, and ways to protect your day to day life. You’ve had some experience in this already; this will take even more vigilance, compassion (for yourself as well as for your partner) … and plenty of patience to succeed in the long run. Even if he lives elsewhere, you are going to need these skills to preserve your well-being in the relationship.

The concerns you state are 100% legitimate. It is vital to pay attention to these thoughts that come up. And it’s equally vital to stay grounded in the present. This is part of self-care. It can be easy to slip into a pattern of putting a Loved One’s needs before your own when you’re caught up in the whirlwind of their use. But putting aside our needs leads to us feeling more resentful, frustrated, and worn-out than ever.

You’ve already been worn thin by the chaos of his use, broken promises, and trying to hold things together for both of you. This does not repair itself overnight. Annie Highwater’s beautiful post on boundaries contains both sage and practical advice for working through the pain of broken trust.

Holding onto what has happened in the past can certainly cloud your vision, as you said. Fears about the future can do the same. It sounds like now is a good time to take stock of all of your feelings, and fully digest them. Let yourself be truly present with those feelings and accept them. The feelings themselves are neither good nor bad. They simply are. As you process them, take what is useful, and let the rest go.

Once you have given yourself this space, find your way to a centered, peaceful place from which you feel strong and resilient. Making decisions out of worry and fear is not helpful in the long run. You are striving towards new goals as a couple. Try to see with new eyes how you can be open, compassionate and clear about your needs, and your vision for your life together as a couple. Try to come to each new interaction fresh, from this place of centeredness and inner strength. With practice, those sensitive topics that once caused arguments may become the seeds for new growth, for both of you. Each interaction is a new opportunity to build and strengthen your connections.

You’ve expressed that you want to be supportive in what could be a powerful transformation for your partner. Yet you also don’t want to be duped into repeating the same old patterns and missing warning signs in the future. What if you reframe what it means to be supportive so that it accommodates both of you. This can help you have the frank conversations you need to have while remaining realistic and clear about the options. Framing it in this way, you’ll be able to protect yourself – and even him – more proactively as he gains a more solid foothold in his sobriety.

CRAFT guides us to be empathetic, to build bridges with our Loved Ones so that they can trust us and open up about needing help. And it teaches us to take care of ourselves, our thoughts and emotions as well. When we practice with this kind of awareness, we in turn become better listeners, better communicators. We can learn to avoid the common pitfalls that find us rehashing the same old arguments, opening up the same old wounds. Our goal is to be there for our Loved Ones. To help shine a light to a better path.

Thank you for writing in with this question. We are here to support all of our members in tending to their own needs so that they may accomplish their goals of getting their Loved Ones help. May the work that each of us does help the light shine stronger for one another.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Thank you Dominque for such reply filled with understanding and love. It was really helpful to read the suggested way to reframe this as being supportive for both, although there is still a voice in me thinking I am weak and selfish in not providing him a space where his recovery could be accelerated. I know it in me though that if I were to rush this decision and force myself into providing this space, it would turn against me at some point as the choice does not feel fully aligned.
    I have expressed my concerns to him and, although hearing my fears caused him pain, he has agreed not to rush the decision of moving in together until we feel he has created financial freedom for himself as that will be vital for his self esteem and our individual freedoms. I feel this takes away a huge weight as we are giving each other time to feel into this choice.
    As things stand right now, he doesn’t want to seek any help in his recovery in terms of professionals and recovery programs as he wants to do it himself. He has been drug-free since April, when his first and last relapse happened after 2 months of being drug-free. As for the alcohol…it is literally a few weeks but as we are in a long-distance, I find myself doubting whether he has never had a sip, given that all of his close friends in his home city still indulge in both alcohol and drugs (which is one of the main reasons why I’d want him to move out of his city). Since he managed to stay away from drugs with his own will-power so far, he wants to do the same for alcohol. May I ask you Dominique if there is any reason behind the 9 months mark that you would go for if you were in my shoes?
    Thank you so much for welcoming me and supporting me.

    1. There’s a lot of stopping and starting with some people. 9 months abstinent may take a while to get. It is possible to stop drinking and using drugs on one’s own, some do do it, though most of the people I know had professional help of some kind and peer supports. Isolation is a reason many give for abusing substances, recovery typically is helped by reaching out to others. Substance problems are very tricky — if your partner thinks he wants to try recovery without help, ask him to assure you of what he is doing to prevent a relapse. Problem using can’t just be ignored. Addiction is complicated and will take some vigilance for a long time.

      1. This is what I learned from you Dominique and consistent with the teachings of CRAFT. Recovery means a group covering backs while living in recovery facing a road ahead that all of us need a support group to get through. Moving to a new place will require the skills to quickly create an entirely new support group.

        Is the LO such a master of that skill to pack up and do it without destroying themselves and the CRAFT worker that could possibly be naive as to their working the CRAFT program.

        Moderation is one thing; inappropriateness and sanctity another. These are things I hold most dear in life. I must remember, during moments of sacred serenity, the absolute maddening profanity the world has to offer us randomly. A LO that is using knows nothing of any of the things a healthy person holds dear. How quickly would that “safe place” overseas be able to turn Kafquesque.

        Overconfidence is always a temptation in a world that seems to think the status quo is PERFECTLY SAFE despite disconfirming evidence that must be ignored to entertain this perhaps comforting delusion.

        1. Thank you for your insights 228, it was eye-opening to me to see my own thinking through your lenses and realize the risks of following that logic!

        2. Thank you both for sharing. You took it to the next level. I feel we are doing groundbreaking work sometimes on this site. Thank you all for making this site useful to others.

      2. Thank you Dominque, this is really helpful for me! I feel more grounded in my choice. I feel I would still need to master CRAFT more and particularly when asking what’s his plan for a recovery on his own. He told me some vague things like “avoid temptations, tell my friends I’m getting sober, cut the alcohol which always led to the drugs and just stay grounded in what we are building together”. I too would be so much happier to know that he has a group supporting him however he pushes back whenever I suggested this.

    2. I anticipated the response from Dominique and I was cringing at reading your story flamingarcher, yet I won’t lie and claim that isn’t exactly the old perspective I used to have. I know now not to coddle a ‘safe space’ thinking that is the answer when it in fact may be getting in the way of my LO’s recovery. You wrote:

      “providing him a space where his recovery could be accelerated”

      We all want to wrap our LOs in bubble wrap at times. The delusion is that if we create a safe space then our safe space is all we need. Coddling works only so far I think and eventually temptations on the road ahead must be prepared for in the LO and the LO must face the temptation and make a new choice and repeat yet not in a contrived safe space yet in the real world “as is”, not “as it should be” or “as I could make it”.

      The problem is if he doesn’t have a diverse and engulfing support group that isn’t “contrived” and yet exists “as is” in the community, if YOUR CRAFT program fails, YOUR space won’t be robust enough and will actually hurt his recovery.

      Key word recovery I think. “Re” means ‘back’ “Covery” ‘cover’. I think a better model of true recovery is that there is a support system of groups of people that cover one another’s backs and not one person creating a coddled version of “providing him a space where his recovery could be accelerated”. I don’t see this as every having been effective in the past, present or future.

      I really believe in morale and yet its resources in recovery seem to be me not “paving the road ahead” for them and yet understanding them and encouraging them to find their unique necessities, resources of true recovery, to be successful on a “road ahead” that none of us can predict nor mold for them entirely.

      To me CRAFT helps me stop doing for them what their HP must do ‘through” them and to stop coddling and mollifying(the delusion of doing that) of the road ahead, and instead let them face THEIR road ahead “as is” and focus more on them “as is”

      I am wondering if others have learned similar things we could all share and learn from the “robustness” of this perspective instead of the “vacuum” of my one perspective on these thoughts of creating “safe spaces” in lieu of devotion to the LO creating themselves.