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September 5, 2012

Getting back out there, step by step

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:18 am

Getting with the program on November 2, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl:

First of all, I want to thank you for your site. I have been reading it for months, and am always impressed and amused by the advice you offer.

Secondly, I’m afraid I may be in the running for the longest advice question ever. I have tried to get it down to a minimum, but it’s still pretty long-winded and involved (sorry). Here goes: My third marriage (which lasted 14 years) broke up over two years ago. Since the divorce I chose not to pursue relationships because of my poor track record with marriage, among other issues. But during these two years a lot of things have changed in my life and I have a much better understanding and perspective. Although I am well educated and have a good job, bottom line, I am an addict and always got involved with other active addicts — not a good situation to be sure, but I had no insight into this until I got clean and sober.

I am getting tired of being on my own and would like to have a meaningful relationship. But it’s tough –I’ve been out of the dating/relationship loop for so long that I feel like an adolescent, which I definitely am not. Add to that the complications noted above, and I’m a tough sell, even though I am still an attractive woman. Up until recently I hadn’t met anyone that I wanted to get involved with either, so when it happened, I was pretty stoked.

About 6 weeks ago after a 12-step meeting I went to a coffee shop with a bunch of people and struck up a conversation with The Guy (TG). We really clicked — talked non-stop for almost 2 hours. That night he indirectly asked me to a dance (“Are you going? — I’ll be there….), so I went and we had a nice time. We danced and talked and he walked me to my car when I left, but he didn’t try to kiss me and we didn’t exchange phone numbers (I had told him I didn’t have a phone).

Then he just disappeared for a couple of weeks When I finally did bump into him again, I hung back, but he approached me and was obviously happy to see me (he actually said so). The vibe was still there, but there was a reserve that I couldn’t quite read. Later that week he told me (during a multi-topic converstion that went on for almost an hour) that he didn’t go out with women from the group, but if he broke his rule she would have to be in the program for a year first (I’ve been in the program for two months).

Suddenly the disappearance and distance all made sense — after all, he had already sort of broken his rule with me. He has almost two years of clean time and I’m still very new to all of this. So he understands more about the recovery process than I do and doesn’t want to interfere with it or take advantage of someone in that state. He said I need that time to get to know myself as a sober person (though it could have been that generic “you” rather than me specifically). I respect his stance, even though it sucks that the first guy I have really been interested in since my divorce isn’t available to me.

While he was telling me all of this, I tried really hard to be cool (even though I felt strangely “dumped” and don’t know if I betrayed my disappoinment). When it was all said he excused himself and I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air and some emotional space. Within minutes he was right back at my side, being his usual sweet, supportive self, but I took off shortly thereafter cause I really needed to cry.

I still see him regularly — he has taken to showing up a half hour early for his usual meeting — so he is waiting outside when I come out the door. We always visit and I usually get a hug (I never ask — he offers, but that is within the realm of acceptable 12-step behaviour). He’s even cleaning up a little — shaving and putting on nice clothes — which really isn’t required or expected. My gut tells me he is just as attracted to me as I am to him, but he has his rule (and it is HIS rule, not a program rule). I have gone over it a billion times and I am convinced that this attraction is mutual, but I respect him a lot for having those moral standards. I also know in this day and age, most people associate dating/ relationships with sexual relationships — and I intend to remain celibate unless / until I re-marry, so a dating/friendship would be perfect for me. This has been going on for about six weeks now, and I figure if it was just a crush, I would be over it by now. TG isn’t the most attractive guy there, or the only one who shows an interest in me, but he has touched a place in my heart that hadn’t been opened in a very long time. My affection, respect and atrraction for him grows each time we talk (in fact, he has some physical traits that would normally turn me off, but on him, they’re adorable!). I think I would truly be happy to just spend time hanging out with him outside of group functions if that is all he has to offer me or is interested in, but I could be fooling myself there. There’s also a hope that with time the attraction would just wear off and he’d just be another guy instead of TG. I just don’t want to set myself up to be hurt, as I realize that I am very vulnerable right now. So finally, the question: Should I just let things go as they are — as unsatisfying as it is — or put my neck on the line here?

— Feeling Adolescent

Dear FA,

First of all, thanks. Second, hardly! Third, let’s go talk to Belleruth, BG.com’s official credentialed person with regard to love and other addictions. And she says:

“Hell, what’s the problem? This is perfect. Looks like TG has discipline and principles. You should take the time to get to know him better, flirt, feel the delicious longing to scratch this itch, glory in the adolescent ‘ooh, I hope he’s there’ buzz, feel the energy of being stoked. AND you should watch him, enjoy his company, and imitate some of this decidedly non-addictive behavior of his.”

As if you needed it, more great incentive to stick with the program — and the possible extracurriculars. Let us know what happens.


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