How to Love an Alcoholic Unconditionally

Trapped In Love Yes, it is possible to love an alcoholic with an undying love, unconditionally. To accept a problem drinker’s behavior is not what this article is about. Learning to take care of ourselves is the beginning of being able to express compassion toward the person suffering from the disease of alcoholism. Having compassion and loving someone who drinks all the time does not mean that we must accept unacceptable behavior from an alcoholic. What it does mean is that we must learn how to live life differently than we have been.

To have unconditional love for an addict means that we accept them as they are but we do not allow them to treat us or our family with disrespect. The only way to accept them just as they are is by realizing that they are suffering from a horrible disease called alcoholism. You wouldn’t hate a friend who had cancer would you, or some other type of terminal illness? Of course you wouldn’t, you would care for them and express great amounts of unconditional love toward them.

Woman In Love ReflectingSo, then why do we have such a tendency to not like the alcoholic in our lives? If you can come to grips with the fact that alcoholism is a disease, then and only then will you be able to express unconditional love to the person who drinks too much in your life. Understand this point… they do not want to be the way that they are. They struggle with the horrible addiction day in and day out. Even though they deny having a problem, deep down inside they know that they are drinking too much.

It’s going to take a lot of work on your part to re-spark the great love that you once had, but it can be done. If you would just take a moment right now to look in the phone book for help or even on the Internet, by doing a search using your city location, you could find an Al-anon meeting near you. There are millions of testimonials about the Al-anon program spread throughout the world.

The first step to loving an alcoholic unconditionally is getting involved in support group meetings with people who understand what it is that you are going through.

You are going to need to learn how to love yourself again. That thought sounds strange doesn’t it? There is great truth in that statement though because living with an alcoholic wears us down. They are constantly belittling us and making us feel worthless. Once we discover our value again, then we can begin to love the alcoholic in our life without conditions.

You are suffering from many things that have affected you in relation to living with active alcoholism. In order to love the alcoholic in a manner that is expressed unconditionally, you are going to need to learn how to stop arguing, how to protect your emotions and how to let go of the alcoholic and start living your own life. This doesn’t mean that you leave them or live without them. It just means that you can begin to live a wonderful life even though their behavior is constantly awful. You don’t have to be affected by everything that they do and it is possible to focus on other things than their drinking problem.

Now, get to work and find help in your area. Pick up the phone and dial that number. I promise you that you are not alone. Many people are dealing with the same pain that you are. They too are feeling lonely and frustrated. Those folks can also teach you how to love yourself again and how to love the alcoholic in your life unconditionally.

33 comments to How to Love an Alcoholic Unconditionally

  • Pez

    Are you Kidding me! NO we would not reject our loved one who has cancer or some other terminal disease. But they wouldn’t treat us like shit now would they! This is comparing apples to oranges. There is a disease aspect to alcoholism in the later stages, but the truth is it’s an addiction and they have the choice to quit if they get out of there denial of the hurt and pain they cause others & there desire to live like a child for the rest of there lives and grow up!. Personally, I don’t think it’s all “they don’t want to be that way” IN FACT I think some of them enjoy it!! They don’t want to grow up, take responsibility, the men enjoy treating women like shit and using them and throwing them away–Just like they did in there teens and 20’s–What great memories and fun for them in a way. After all my love for so many years when my XAB jumped to a low life Whore (no exaduration here it’s on her record) He MOCKED ME, LAUGHED AT ME, wrapped T-Paper around my bushes at work and his x wifes’ house. This is childish to the max. Chasing the dragon, Party Hardy, live like a teenager forever!
    With all this said, Why the He-double toothpick would I want to have undying, unconditional love to someone who treats me badly, is abusive in almost every way, WHY! Nobody deserves that. Nobody. If you are being abused in ANY WAY (No abuse is acceptable) dump the arrogant Alcoholic and do better for yourself. Pray for them if you are able. Maybe one day they will “Get It” that the teen years are over and then they can move on to a healthy relationship if done right.

  • Gabby

    I agree with Pez’s comment. If the A in your life is not abusive then it’s okay to show unconditional love and pray for them to recover but alot of us put up with horrible things being done to us. Who in their right mind would tell you to try and show love to someone who in my case was trying to hurt me, shove me, knock me down and when confronted with the behavior and the bruises he caused can show no remorse & yet I am supposed to love someone like that–yes, if I did that I would not be typing this right now–I surely would be dead if I had not left–where is the unconditional love for us the victims? When will someone show me that kind of love? I guess never because why? You have to be an alcoholic or a cheater, or a liar, or a rapist in this world to get unconditional love–something is wrong with this thinking.

  • Julie

    Amen, Pez and Gabby. I could never buy in to the unconditional love thing either for an alcoholic who enjoyed treating me like shit. When I turned the other cheek he just got worse. He was “stuck” in immature, childish behavior while I grew up and matured. We were not on the same wave length. I am happily, although slowly, recovering my self-respect, sanity and self-esteem since divorcing him 2 years ago. I no longer have to live with my guard up, not knowing what he was going to do next. If he self destructs, he now does it without me and I’m not there to pick up the pieces and clean up the mess. I’m living for “me” for the first time in my life. And you know what, I no longer feel guilty for divorcing someone with a “disease.” Unconditional love did not work for me.

  • Pez

    I agree. when I did unconditional love I was abused all the more because
    he saw it as a weakness to be exploited by him. I had to be careful
    what I even spoke to him cause he would use it to his advantage to hurt, control, or manipulate! Totally sociopathic.

  • L.

    I agree wholeheartedly with this post; one of the best I have read on this site. A few of my qualifiers could have been poster children for this dis-ease and I entered my own Recovery with more than a little anger and resentment toward them. Recovery for ourselves and unconditional love, support and encouragement for the alcoholic IS possible! Al-Anon taught ME so much including healthy and appropriate boundaries, keeping the focus, (one day at a time), on myself and NOT on what the alcoholic is or is not doing, DETACHMENT with LOVE if possible, with a frying pan if necessary 🙂 … and so much more … For your own serenity and sanity it is worth the effort to become familiar with the Steps, Slogans, Literature, and Meetings, of this lifesaving program … I am a grateful member of Al-Anon …

  • L.

    … ARE possible!” 🙂

  • Mike

    Unconditional love? No way.
    That just means to accept an alcoholic’s BS.
    Alcoholics love to talk about unconditional love.
    It’s their crutch.
    There are conditions. Love me more than alcohol.
    Sorry, it ain’t a disease, it’s an addiction.
    If alcoholism is a disease, than lying is a disease too.

  • Pez

    I agree mike. Yes, we should be a happy and whole person within outselves, BUT we get into relationships so we have at least some if not a lot of degree of reciprocation! This is a healthy relationship with a friend or a lover. Would you choose a friend who would never give, only take? and on top of that cause you pain. No, that is not a friendship unless your sick. Even more this should not be in a romantic realationship, this is dysfunctional (not a normal healthy one). Why would you sacrifice your life for someone who is nasty, cheating, liar, a mess and a drug addict. Why!? Love? Love is not enough for a lifetime of self denial of emotional needs going unmet. Love yourself more. Unconditional love is enabling to the alcoholic. Love yes, but not unconditional. If you set boundries, that is not unconditional–boundries are conditions!

  • PM

    I totally agree with the artical.You can’t do it out of your own humaness but from a greater power with-in you. I have been married to an A for 37 years. It wasn’t until I took the log out of my eye that I was able to truly love him. It isn’t the way we are raise but it is the way God has ask us to live–not abuse but to love unconditionally as He loves us. The pain I see in the comments are very sad and I know they are true. I just hope for healing for your hearts and to trust the Lord for peace and direction.


  • Stephanie

    Julie that’s powerful. How did you do that? I’ve been with my Husband for 10 years and pray everyday for the answer. He rarely gets nasty unless I try to control the situation. I’m learning after all these years to pick my battles but it’s tough. Some days I wonder if it would just be easier to leave….

  • tennisgirl

    I have been dealing with it for 26 years and three dui’s. I can’t do it any more.

  • Monica

    Well, I have just started dating an alocholic. I did not know he had a problem until we started living together – I found beer cans everywhere all the time. I wondered why he was so Jealous, and wanting me always to be around him and he would not let me go anywhere with out him, I thought it was just because he was just being a boyfreind. So now that we are in deep and I fell in love with him.
    Wow, I said how did I not see him drinking that much.
    He started to be mean and ugly. He kept sayong things like I am not a good person, I am a bad father, I was a bad husband, . Then I started to understand that he needed to be loved because I told him you are not those things you matter to me, and God. And let me just tell you that his son’s are awesome kids, one is married and in the Army the other is in High school in honors. I told him that a son is a reflection of what his father is. He kept saying that he was horrible father and horrible person, his ex wife used to tell him how worthless and he was nothing yelled at him about everything even after they were divorced he kept hearing her mouth, I know because when we started dating she would call and yell – calling him a dead beat dad, just all the horible things you could think of and he would just be quiet. Until finally she knew that I started dating him he was called him everything but his first name she even had her family, his kids and part of his against him. He hurt so much. I did not see what his ex saw. Even though he could be mean and sometimes he just makes me want to run for the hills, I love the guy. I show him love and he responds to it by trying to be better. Once I have to admitt I did come to a point where I was just exhausted and could not take anymore of his abuse his words were just draining me, hurting me and just could not go on with him any more – I wanted to just leave him, I told him… Let me go please. He held me so tight that night, and would not let me go. He kept saying that ‘I can’t do that’, I can’t do that’ we fell asleep this way, and I can honestly say he has been better and he has talked through things with me. I cook and clean and show him love. Believe it or not it has been working. Sometimes he will slip and say mean things that hurt me so much. I stop him and say hey, do you hear yourself? He still drinks a case of beer a day at least that is the cans I see.
    He appriciates that I love him just the way he is and he appriciates that I still have not given up on him when everyone else has. I know that many of you have suffered so much I understand. But from what I am going through right this moment in time – He needs to be loved.

  • SJC

    Monica, I don’t want to be negative but it will never be enough. You will cook, clean,
    love him and at some point you will wonder why you are not getting this in return. One day you will have an ah ha moment of why he said he was not a good father, good person…their is a reason why his x says the same thing too.
    Think about it a case of beer a day…who does that, someone with a big problem. Read what alcoholic does to the frontal lobe of the brain.
    I understand you want things to work out, I did the same thing and still to this day I wish things would worked out with my xah. The things he said to me, did take a toll on me.
    I still feel like I’m not good enough and now it’s on me to change that.
    I do wish you luck
    but I believe no good can come from being with an alcoholic.

    Anytime they prove they are not safe to love, we have the unfinished business of loving them anyway. –Bishop T.D. Jakes

  • SJC

    I said their is a reason his x says the things she does. I say this because my xah was a high functioning alcholic, I could never tell he was drunk. His sister made comments when I first met him that she worried about his drinking etc… I thought, maybe she is a Tee-Total-er
    because I did not see him as having a problem.
    Now I know what all the comments were.
    She also said his xwife left because he was so controlling and I thought I don’t see that at all. Well as time went on I began understanding what she meant by that. Their are all different kinds of controlling, it does not have to be the traditional kind.
    I had a father has a dry drunk ( I was his scapegoat) and an xah has a high functioning
    and they both acted the same.

  • […] Feeling Rejected By An Alcoholic Excerpt: “Alcoholics really have a tendency to put the alcohol first in their lives and people second. Some people in AA refer to this as romancing the bottle. They also say that they had a love relationship with their booze of choice. Even though we may not get the love we desire from them, we can learn how to love an alcoholic with out conditions. […]

  • das

    I have lived with an alcoholic for 17 years now. He is a wonderful man when sober but completely evil when drinking.
    He becomes evil. He antagonize me. He aggravates mourning kids. I can’t take it. He brings out the worst in me.

  • Lore

    I just found this article and am completely in tune with the concept of LOVE is the answer it is you as the healthy one in the relation ship giving it ALL to support the Alcoholism disease in the man in your life.
    I know he has the problem he does not I have to get through what is and what is not about me.
    An Alcoholic like anyone with a disease wants to be loved,they are not at this time capable or receiving at times and can not give. Many times it is as though they have an ADHD in the relationship.
    I am worn down with many aspects of the disease,but when I see alight I know there is HOPE for us

  • cf

    Lore, This must be all new for you. Your thoughts are a pipe dream. Their is no real answer inside the relationship with an A.
    It’s like the new 10 part mini series , Wayward Pines. He tries to leave the town but he keeps circling around and sees the same sign that says welcome to Wayward Pines. Good luck , that one day you will either leave him or he’ll leave you either way it will be the best thing .

  • gail

    You can love an alcoholic unconditionally. What you do for an alcoholic can be conditional. Don’t enable alcoholics. Loving an alcoholic doesn’t mean that you do everything for them. Loving an alcoholic and enabling one can be mutually exclusive. I’m speaking from experience – both my parents, brother in-law, and good friend. Believe me, it’s not easy, but you can love the person, but not their addiction. I do not believe Pez and Gabby fully understand how to have a relationship with an alcoholic – it’s not easy. Alcohlic behavior can be frustrating, push and pull (push you away and then pull you in. Pez, you can love an alcoholic and set up boundaries. All of should set up boundaries – even in the healthiest relationships boundaries need to be in place.

  • gail

    Julie, you said that alcoholism is a mental disease then you call it a character flow. It’s either one or the other, but not both. The medical community defines alcoholism as a disease Why did you write in all caps. It’s synonymous with yelling.

  • kim

    Please don’t spend one more precious moment of your life trying to fix an alcoholic. If you’re reading this I am going to have to assume that much like myself, you’re deeply in love and believe that you have a future together, just as soon as…

    Stop. Breathe. Hear me.

    You are not their priority. I’ve no doubt that there have been moments when you were made to feel as though you were, maybe even months or years. Then they slipped up. That’s what you called it, or something similar. It was a one time thing. It won’t happen again. You whole heartedly believe that to be true.

    It’s not true.

    There are few things more intoxicating than someone professing their undying love and devotion and meaning it. An alcoholic throwing focus onto you can feel like the be all end all of romance.

    You know what’s more intoxicating? That moment that your world falls apart because your partner has chosen alcohol over you. Obviously not for you, but for them, it was. And, it will be the next time as well.

    An alcoholic does not make their own family, friends or even themselves a priority. Don’t be lulled into thinking that you are one.

    If you’re like me, you’re right at this moment believing you are the exception. I get it. I share with you only to try and save you the time wasted and total heartache in discovering that you are not.

    There are many different levels of being involved with an alcoholic and they all have the same outcome. There are no exceptions. Move on now.

    You are not going to change their priorities. You are not ever going to be a hard line priority. You will be taken for granted. Your faith is misplaced. Your love will be unreturned and you will be deeply hurt.

    Again, if you’re anything like me, you’re making excuses for yourself and your alcoholic right now. You might even be a little mad.

    That’s nothing compared to how upset you’re going to be down the road. Get out now. Quit wasting your precious time, your love, your faith, your everything. There’s someone out there that will meet you halfway. Your alcoholic will not. Ever.

    Your undying love is not enough in this scenario, but in any other it would be. Leave this relationship now. Someone is searching for your kind of love right now. Someone who will meet you halfway and appreciate all that you are.

    Don’t waste another moment of your precious love and time. Move on.

  • Lollie

    Amen Kim! I should have packed my bags (or his since I’m the enabler) 38 years ago but I held the family together and endured exactly what you described. I’ve survived with God by my side but I echo your advice to others, move on now.

  • Gary

    I came from a great family. I allowed a woman in my life that was alcoholic. I never really understood what an alcohol was until she lived with me. She stated that “she had finally found the man she wanted to marry” She was so overwhelmingly convincing. Then one day after 5 months in my home I decided to look at her phone. That’s when I found her young lover that worked under her. That’s when I saw she also had an one night affair with a married man while on a job training in Florida. I confronted her but only got lies. I asked her to leave, she did but I made the mistake in continuing to see her. That was when I caught her yet again with other men. Just picking them up at bars and taking them home. It was sick. She got her second DUI and went to rehab but when she came out she continued the same behavior. The lies never end. The feeling of doing good to them and getting nothing back never ends. It is an emply void. They make you feel horriable. They are horriable sick people. Don’t waste your time. Run. YOu are not different. It’s completely futile to attempt to change or help them. They must help themselves. Go find someone who is not an alcoholic or drug addict or sex addict.

  • Pez

    yes I do know people that chose to love an alcoholic and to stay with them. After I learned what it was all about I had no desire to stay. I want a love that is reciprocal. an alcoholic relationship is dysfunctional and not normal. It is one-sided most of the time. I want normal or nothing.

  • Marra

    Hi, I can relate to a lot of what is being said on here. It has been 10 years with a progressive alcoholic who has been saying for half of the time that he is going to stop drinking but doesn’t. It’s day after day or disappointment. We have a kid and although we separated for a year because I couldn’t take being second fiddle to his addiction. I was stupid to get back together with him because nothing has changed, if anything it’s worse and now I resent and loathe him. When we had our. Hold we were flying high with joy and then we both lost our mothers and my father one after the next which spiraled him into “don’t give a fuck mode” and me into trying to be responsible and pick up the slack. Anyhow, i feel paralyzed with fear and just disappointment but I need to get up and become finalncially independent again so I can get the hell away. When he is sober he is a fun and jovial person and father but I never know what I’m gonna get when I wake up and it truly sucks. I also want to start going to al anon because I’m sure it helps from what I’ve heard. I am done with unconditional love though. He has a choice and no matter how hard it may be he needs to grow up and clean up. Oh, also it flip flops from “i have a problem” to “I don’t have a problem”. But he hides the drinking and even drinks fricken mouthwash which I am not naive and have been exposed to drugs and alcohol but didn’t even realize that this is a thing. He’s killing himself and I don’t want to watch anymore.

  • Tms

    I have just started dating an alcoholic and did not know about his addiction until a few months into it. I have never in my life been with someone who has an addiction and have no idea how to handle it nor do I know if I want to. It’s happened a few times that when he drinks he becomes mentally abusive. He says the most hateful things, tells me to leave him alone, then when I try to leave he cries and professes his love and tells me that I can never leave him. Last time while driving him home after a night out, he screamed at me that if I spoke 1 word to him on the ride home he was done and would never talk to me again. It was almost comical, his ranting. I had told myself that I wasn’t going to get angry at him and leave that night but I was going to try to remain calm and not take it personally, that it was just him being drunk him. I have only been with him for 6 months but this has happened 4-5x now and I don’t know what to do. He was sober a few years back for 7 years but we live in a town that breeds dysfunction and addiction (affluent resort town). Please give me some advise. He doesn’t drink so much during the week but when the weekend comes it’s quite different. I am not a drinker myself and am always picking up the pieces and taking care of his needs. Reading all of these has been eye opening for sure.

  • SC

    It’s, I think you are answering your own question. Re-read your comment as if your reading someone else’s comment. They really don’t change…they can’t. My father quit drinking and he still said mean things to me. I then married a very high functioning alcoholic, good job, funny, we traveled… but he was verbally mean too. I thought I could reason with him (I have had years of therapy and self help), not realizing you can’t. I’m attractive, smart, funny and it took my self esteem. It will hurt you. We are all only human and need to be loved and understood. Life is to hard for to be with anyone that isn’t going to make it easier.
    Save yourself.

  • Kristina Allen

    OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe ___dr.mack201@ gmail. com could bring my boyfriend back!!! I am so impressed with the result, everything happened so fast!______.”

  • NH

    Hi All, thanks for the advice. Indeed maybe a true one way love is the key. My Bf is not at all aggressive when he is drunk. He has this issue of getting overwhelmed by the emotions and he needs something to rely on. I have never dated an alcoholic before and never even realised about him when we were dating only when I moved in. he comes home gobbling half a bottle of Vodka and then I was just shocked! Next day we spoke about it and then he continued to drink next week for 4 days and 2 months now this has been reduced to 2 dl only once a week.

    what we did is we spoke about the problem. He was suffering from depression, anxiety and panic attacks which we both are working through gym, swimming and AA meetings and this seems to be finally working. I love him a lot and he is best ever person in my life. I hope this goes on and I see his efforts he is putting to get rid of it and hope one day he will succeed.

  • miles

    Not sure which way to go I am dealing with a functional alcoholic that also has Cancer. There is a good chance of recovery from the cancer, but the drinking is likely to weaken her immune system to the point that Chemo therapy will destroy her.The drinking would be understandable if she was told you have a short time to live, but she was told they are trying to help her live another 20 years. I struggle with trying to love her or go on with my life and try to find someone to enjoy our time together. We are both around 60 years old.Not a lot of time left to live feeling like total shit watching someone take the slowest most painful way they can to kill themselves.

  • Curtis

    Going to Alcohol shrink are 2 PM TODAY. PRAY OR WISH ME, and wife, all the best. Or I shall give up.

  • The Goddess Within

    I think it is possible to love an alcoholic unconditionally but you might mean something different by it than what they mean when they ask it of you.

    What they mean is “I, or rather my disease, can do whatever it needs to get what it wants, and you will just put up with it – because you love me, unconditionally, right?

    But what you need to mean is “You, or rather your disease, can behave however it likes, and I won’t judge you for it. But you can do it from over there. Because now I love me too.

    Everyone is allowed to be right where they are at in their own journeys until THEY choose to be somewhere else.

    How do I know? I broke up with an alcoholic I loved deeply about 18 months ago. The way the relationship went in the end almost totally destroyed my own self-esteem. Self esteem I had worked hard to find in the 8 single years I had had before I met him. But that’s MY stuff, as a person prone to codependent relationships.

    I wanted something real. I realused quite quickly I wasn’t going to find it there. So I’m slowly and patiently I’m rebuilding myself again, and when I’m ready, I’ll put myself out there once more.

    It was hard, very hard and I still think about him every day. I love almost anything I touch with an open heart but I needed to remember what I’m worth too.

    Healthy relationships meet you half way. They are not healthy if the bad times outweigh the good or you are constantly weathering the next storm or drama.

    Your life is much more valuable than continually living on the hope of “We just need to get through x,y or z and then we’ll be ok. There will always be a new x,y or z, until they choose otherwise.

    And that’s up to them. You are handing your power away if you choose to love their potential unconditionally rather than their reality from afar. Until THEY’RE doing the work to face and manage their own sobriety you’re wasting your precious living time loving them up close unconditionally.

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