Addiction thrives on the fact that it can mess with our minds.
We get confused and feel guilty when our expectations are not met by our partner, particularly when we love a good man or a good woman who’s suffering from this disease.
We start to think, “Is what I’m asking for too much? Are my expectations too high? Is what I’m craving something normal, or should I not be asking so much from my partner?”
The four basic needs of a relationship involve love, attention, affection, and help from your partner. But are you expecting those four basic needs from somebody who can consistently meet them in a healthy way?
You should not feel guilty for expecting those needs to be met from the person you want to share the rest of your life with or your son or daughter.
Are you expecting them to love you like you deserve to be loved though? Are you expecting them to show up consistently—to be truthful at all times and every occasion? Because love is trust. Do you expect them to be kind? Because love is not rude. Love protects you.
Love is your safe spot. It’s your landing point. It’s the place that you feel called back to again and again after a hard day.
Are there times in your life that you want to share with your partner, but they are absent? Are you counting on them to give you more attention than their addiction?
What about affection? Do you desire for your partner to respect your heart and your feelings enough to trust them with your body? Are you expecting to feel safe with them when you’re intimate and vulnerable?
And do you expect them to see you when you need help? Do you want your loved one to anticipate your needs and be thoughtful enough to meet them?
Love, attention, affection, and help are four basic needs for anybody in a committed, loving relationship.
Here’s the truth: each one is necessary from both partners. If your needs are not being met, it’s okay to feel upset. It is acceptable for you to take a pause and mourn the idea that as long as addiction is constantly in your relationship, chances are, those four basic needs are not going to be met for you on a regular basis.
It is almost impossible for your loved one to manage their active addiction and meet your expectations. I’ve never seen it happen.
More than likely, if your loved one is suffering from a drug addiction, a porn addiction, a sex addiction, or an alcohol addiction, it’s preoccupying most of their thoughts, so they’re not thinking about your needs and how to meet them.
You’re probably feeling used when you’re intimate with your partner because you recognize that your heart, your mind, and your spirit are not being respected enough.
But in this community, we believe you are not helpless.
You can come to the point where you say, “Michelle, I am going to leave because I feel in my heart that I deserve something better. I deserve those four basic needs to be met by my partner.” Or you can decide to stay and say, “I’m not ready to leave. This partner is worth the pain and the suffering, and I’m willing to readjust my expectations in order to remain in this relationship and stay happy.”
Either one of those choices is fine. But you’re going to have to lower your expectations for the person that you love.
You can provide yourself with the kind of love that you’re looking for and needing from your partner. YOU.
Remove the responsibility from the person whom you love to meet your needs.
Now, I know that’s not easy to do, and I know that’s heartbreaking, but those feelings of anger, disappointment, and resentment will disappear if you start taking care of yourself.
How do you do that?
Love: how do you meet the basic need of love if your partner isn’t making you feel adored? If you’re a member of the Love Over Addiction program or you’ve listened to the podcasts, you’ve heard me say this before:
Do something kind for yourself every single day.
Every night I reward myself for working hard for my family, for you, and for myself by taking a bubble bath. And I soak in it as long as I need to while reading my favorite book.
That is my reward. I turn down the lights, and I close the door. That’s when I fill my cup up.
If you’re not into that, that’s okay. So is it cooking? Is it making time to exercise, paint, or do your nails? Whatever it is for you, make a list, and do something nice for yourself every day.
By doing that, you are loving yourself.
Next is attention. What do you do if the one you love doesn’t give you attention? I know this is very common in the world of addiction. They don’t come home when they say they’re going to come home, or they take off when they want a drink.
It’s between you (or your children) and addiction to get your loved one’s attention. So how do you get that need met if they’re not fulfilling it?
This is huge, so don’t miss it: you need friends. I know that you are feeling lonely. And you’re feeling lonely because you’re not getting out of the house enough and having fun.
You’re feeling lonely because you’re giving too much attention to the person you love instead of the loving people who are around you.
You’re giving yourself, and everything good that you have to offer, away to somebody who is not fully able to appreciate it. So take some of it back, and give it to the people in your life who are waiting for you to reach out.
I want you to make friends and invest in them. Get out of your pain and your struggles enough to text somebody and say, “How are you doing? What’s going on with you? Do you want to go for a walk this week? Would you like to meet for dinner?” Join a group or a class, and meet new people.
There are too many of us who struggle with loneliness because we are afraid to leave the house and not be there to control the ones we love.
Let it go.
I remember being in year five of my relationship with my ex-husband who was addicted to drugs and alcohol. I had lost all of my friends, and I was so lonely because I didn’t want to let anyone in on the secret that I was struggling with this.
Put yourself out there.
I promise the more you try, and the more consistent you are, the more that it’s going to pay off. Pretty soon, you’re going to find yourself with three or four really amazing friends. You’re going to be so grateful that you did. So that’s how you get the attention that you’re looking for.
Lastly, you crave affection. You want to be lovingly touched, and you want to hold hands with somebody. You need affection. Your chiIdren can provide this. I personally force my teenagers to hug me. They roll their eyes.
If you don’t have kids you can get that attention from, go get a massage. Go get a facial. Get your nails done. Also, yoga. I don’t know what it is, but hot yoga in particular really seems to give you that connection to your body that you’re looking for.
So, those are your four basic needs from a relationship. And I’ve just taught you how to meet every single one of those needs, whether they decide to get sober or not.
The key takeaway here is to lower your expectations.
And the quicker that you do this, the quicker your recovery will come from loving somebody with addiction. Forget having your needs met by the person you love for now. If they get better and they get sober long-term (one year or more), great. Then, you can re-adjust your expectations. But if they are actively suffering from addiction, you need to look elsewhere.
As soon as you start implementing these tools and tips, I promise you will start to feel better. You will start to feel like the kind, loving, and smart woman that I know you are.
You can do this. You’re not alone. You have all of your sisters. Particularly, if you join one of our programs, you’ve got thousands of women cheering you on and telling you, “Do not give up.”
Do not turn around and go backward. Keep moving forward and taking the steps that you need. Get out of the house. Meet your own needs. Make space for yourself. You’ve got this.