Protection From An Alcoholic Treating You Like A Doormat

Is the alcoholic being disrespectful? Did they treat you like a doormat? You don’t have to accept unacceptable behavior. I can teach you how to set boundaries with an alcoholic that will help protect you from their bad behavior affecting you. Some of the things that I learned early on where I could actually ask an alcoholic not to do particular things that they were doing. It was difficult at first to do that because I was very fearful of what how the alcoholic might react to the boundary that I was setting. But once I learned how to do these things, I enjoyed a lot more peace and serenity in my life and I felt just so I was in power.

Here are a couple of scenarios. Unacceptable behavior for me was when the alcoholic would call me horrible names. I had to learn how to stand up for myself. There’s that thing about step back, shut up and smile. I would step back, would shut up and smile and I would think for a moment. And I would say to the alcoholic; “I would appreciate it if you would not call me that anymore because I am not a (blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank).” And that’s it. Setting the boundary rather than just letting them call me some degrading name and accepting that unacceptable behavior. I would set that boundary and ask them to not call me that name ever again. Whenever the alcoholic would cross that line and call me that degrading name again, I would reestablish that boundary simply by saying, “I asked you not to call me that.” There’s one way to set a boundary with an alcoholic that would guard you from accepting unacceptable behavior.

I had another instance on an occasion where the alcoholic started bringing people home to party late at night on a weekday, whenever I would have to get up and go to work the following morning and the living room was just outside of our bedroom. Inevitably, what would happen is the alcoholic would be out partying until about two in the morning. I would go to sleep at 10 or 11. Then they would come home at about 2:30 and they would have a couple of friends. They would be just making all kind of ruckus in the living room. I eventually had to set boundary. That type of behavior was not acceptable. We have kids in the house that needed to go to school the following day and all of the commotion was keeping everyone awake. I have to set that boundary with the alcoholic and tell them, “It’s not acceptable for you to come home in 2:30 in the morning and bring your friends here to party. You’re going to have to do that elsewhere.”

Whenever I was met with resistance after setting that boundary and not accepting that behavior, letting them know that and they still tried to cross the line and I had to reestablish that boundary again. I didn’t do that reestablishing in front of the other people. I would always have the alcoholic come into the bedroom where it’s a private place and remind them, “I asked you not to bring people home early in the morning and party because I have to go to work tomorrow and the kids are sleeping. They might wake up and they have to go to school.

There are a couple of tips for you on how you can set boundaries so that you won’t have to accept unacceptable behaviors.

If you want the best instructions on how to not allow an alcoholic to treat you like a doormat, get the tutorials on coping with an alcoholic.

17 comments to Protection From An Alcoholic Treating You Like A Doormat

  • karen

    Dear JC,
    I would gladly buy you a cup of coffee and a donut/muffin.

    Your site has helped me in so many ways and I am so grateful for you and the active participants.

    I find that when I can respond on your site it helps me heal in so many ways.
    Although the A person is no longer in my life I find myself pondering on how and why I even got involved with this type of personality. It did do some damage to my self esteem and slef respect….did alot to myself in whole.

    Thankyou for you and all you offer.

    Karen Bray

  • Debbi

    I actually used to call myself “Debbi The Doormat” because of the way he & his family treated me & nothing I could say to him or them about how it made me feel when they did these awful things to me would have any effect on them or him at all. I was treated like property and then discarded when my health deteriorated. If I told my A what he said or did hurt me and I would not tolerate it–he would just figure out a different way to say or do the same thing and get his family to join in–he had a name for this that he even told the pastor of my church–He called it “tit-for-tat” because I, in his mind, started it & he even convinced his family of it & they would also mistreat me & spread lies about me at every chance they got. His niece taught her children to call me “” and everyone would laugh about it–this as they converged on my house every weekend & used it like a hotel & I was the maid service. The advice on this video if & when I tried it would slow up the A & his family but it would return with another awful behavior. I saw no relief and no way to save my sanity but to divorce. Now I am trying to heal after just “reeling” from everything that was done to me & they saw nothing wrong with their behavior what-so-ever. I am still fighting off depression over what he & his family has done to me. I am still in shock that the entire family can all treat someone like that & think nothing of it. How do I ever get over all the abuse?

  • Deb

    I will. Have to give me a bit of time. Low on cash..barely makin’ it but I will buy you coffee soon. I think what you do is very helpful!

  • Terri

    I went through my alcoholic husband screaming and calling me names today. I get very angry and lash out at him when he does that. Its harder because he has already been forced to leave our home. He is basically homeless but he hangs out at these apartments where other men hang and are drunk 24 7 and he has been beaten with a cane on two occasions and was taken to ER. How do I handle a situation like this. I am in constant fear that Im going to get a call that he is laying dead somewhere.

  • J

    Hi Terri, sorry to hear that you are being called names. You don’t deserve that kind of treatment, no one does. It is coming from his deep hurt and is not personal about you. They try and get rid of the pain by projecting it outward to anyone and anything. They don’t realize that it doesn’t work but only leads to more pain. If you can do something very self loving so that you give yourself the message that you are ok and deserve respect and love. It is very hard when we have someone be-belittling us, it’s a massive challenge.
    Forgive yourself for lashing out. You were hurt too and got caught into the trap of engaging with him when he was have a dump on you. It’s ok. We all do it.
    Maybe when you have filled yourself up with love and compassion for yourself and your own suffering you can apologize for your behavior. Then that cleans up your side of things and gives a good role model as well.
    Unfortunately there is nothing you can do if he is choosing to behave in ways that mean that boundaries have to be set and he is homeless. That is his choice. And if that choice means he gets beaten then maybe that is what needs to happen to help him hit rock bottom. It sounds ruthless doesn’t it. If you just keep focusing back on ‘what can I do to calm/love/forgive/etc myself’ it will help. Pray, ring someone, ring heaps of people, get professional help, do whatever it takes to bring the focus back onto yourself, your self care and sanity. Somehow we have to do this….and to trust that the rest will take care of itself.
    The fear is your responsibility to manage, you can’t control what he does or doesn’t do. And there may be a possibility that you will get that kind of phone call. These men are unpredictable and sick. It’s not your fault or responsibility.
    We love them and we worry. But we get caught up so much in the drama we loose ourselves. It is our responsibility to find ourselves, then we will have something to hold onto that is real whether they become well or not. I think that is a win win for everyone.
    Keep sharing. Much love.


    I had this same thing happen to me. My husband chose to live as a homeless man instead of getting a job or getting help for his alcoholism. I had to respect his wishes to live like this otherwise I would be rescuing him from his own consequences. It would have also been seen as me controlling the situation and being codependant. I detached from him in love. I had to love him enough to let him be his own man. I had to stop being his mother. After about a couple of months like this he was jumped by a group of guys and put in the hospital. I did not respond to him when he told me about it because he was going to have to get out of this mess without me so that he could learn his own lessons. After getting out of the hospital, he went back to drinking. He made that choice not to get help. Next time he was accused by some teens of him looking in thru their window. He got arrested and had to go to court, but they dropped the charges since he was going to counter sue them. He was scared and straightened u for 3 years, and after 3 years started to drink again. It’s like he didn’t learn his lessons. Like they say that we have to step out of the way of the alcoholic and let him do whatever he wants, even if it makes us upset. We have to let go and let God. We have to take care of ourselves and stop focusing on the alcoholic. Let the chips fall when they may.

  • C


    I am so sorry you are dealing with a very difficult situation. At times, it seems we are totally hopeless dealing with an alcoholic. We don’t wish them any harm, but we have to protect ourselves and our children from their destructive behavior. May I suggest Social Services in your area. They have professionals who will hear your story and help you stay healthy and sane. There are resources for you – make sure you take care of yourself. Your husband may have to hit flat bottom before he starts to seek help for himself.

  • Since he was forced to leave your home..then you & yours were in danger….so now he’s in danger…have ya tryed calling 211 for advice? Also even though a drastic measure…I think you can admit them for institutionalism..for treatment.. if you get a Dr. to back you up…I don’t know specifics ,however there is a treatment center in the town I moved from at the local hospital……you can ask the 211 # if this is possible. at least ya wouldn’t worry bout his safety ,while you are keeping safe away from him..J is right….you are prob. feeling responsible ….because ya have feelings for him & feel sorry for him…I know I always think …maybe if I do this or that to help him get better….however I think they need to take the first step for recovery….on the other hand if he’s a danger to himself or others Im pretty sure ya can have them committed for treatment with dr.s help…ya may have to have another family member sign also ..cant remember…he prob. will resist at this point…don’t sound like he’s wanting to stop drinking right now..but it will be the best thing for you & his saftey at this point…maybe while he’s there a psychiatric counselor may be able to talk some sense into him before he is on the streets again maybe he will turn around & get a job if he’s forced into treatment……211 will know or give ya # to find out…be praying for ya…God bless!!

  • Mia

    Hi Terri

    That’s really tough but well done for not letting him live with you. You must be really worried because you love him but like children they have to stumble and learn how to get up just like our kids, at some point we have to step back

    I know it’s tough but I also know that though they care nothing much for us and how we feel or if we are safe ! They do have a rather amazing ability to look out for themselves . I remember my dr friend telling me , it’s amazing what drunks get through , I think they are so anaesthetised by alcahol they don’t feel the punches or falls , they just seen to bounce ! Their bodies are so relaxed they fall softly and avoid breaks , other than that they are remarkably good at finding others who make their fall soft

    Shame really but though we want to rush to help we have to leave them be

    To face the truth , all the time we are there they can tell themselves …well !!! I can’t be that bad as they are all still helping me !!! Love doesn’t occur to them , they don’t get that part of it , helping them equals them justifying their behaviour

    My alcaholic boyfriend who I broke up with unless he did detox has now done detox. He straight away started drinking in the evenings and says he’s controlling it to evening only. This is a man who drank from wake up at 6am to pass out 9pm with no job and an inflamed liver ! He has a job says he feels like a new man and has cut back . But !!!! He has ignored me for three weeks other than sending rude texts, he suddenly said could he come hang out on Friday and I was intrigued so said yes. Sure enough he bailed at 7 pm . I said i was very dissapointed and he was very rude, no apology whatsoever . So I told him unless you can take on board you have to rebuild trust and hurt caused please leave me be .

    I felt so devastated at yet again no thought for the other person

    So even on road to recovery and supposedly working and feeling good he’s clearly still very rude and thoughtless so it doesn’t change anything. Instead of understanding my feelings he’s completely ignored me again

    So I think the others are right about us all, we gave to wait for them to really recover, take that step themselves, turn their lives and behaviours around and be an adult looking for an adult relationship before we consider anything about them at all

    I wasted time getting ready, excited etc finally we are here and he cancels as though it was no big deal

    As it was no big deal to him I must accept it was no big deal to him ! And it should have been

    I feel guilty for telling him to leave me now but it was right as I was hurt and he didn’t care

    So don’t worry about then, worry about you and find people who will also worry about you ! Cos the alcaholic won’t

  • Julie

    Dear Fellow Co-dependents: I gratefully read all of your comments because your relationships with alcoholics were so similar to mine. It may have taken me longer than all of you to finally cut the cord from an alcoholic/drug addict/compulsive overeating/pathological gambling husband. If I thought he was bad before, he made sure he made my life as miserable as possible by defaulting on the divorce decree and stealing from me, etc. It takes a long time to recover from the abuse, physical and mental. But at some point you have to stop beating yourself up, second guessing an alcoholic, stop the “what if’s” for the what are’s and try to rebuild your life. Take some time to rediscover who you are and what you can do with your time now that it is no longer being monopolized by the “alcoholic” in your life. I know it is easier said than done. I have good days and bad days. It is impossible to forget everything, but start each day with a prayer and try to move forward. Give yourself permission to be happy. In spite of the way he/she treated you and blamed you for everything, get rid of the old tapes in your heads and love yourself. You have nothing to regret if you honestly tried to help another human being who, due to disease and/or personality disorder, refused to get help. Get the help you need and stop worrying about them. You have absolutely no control over their behavior and have to be prepared when they refuse help/intervention. That’s the way it is, hard as it may be to deal with. I hate losing and am not a quitter, but had to throw in the towel and give up. God Bless you all as you deal with the difficulties in your life.

  • Julie21

    HI all, I am beginning to see it not as giving up but like Julie said you did all you could to reassure yourself that you have tried all that you could and had no other choice but to get out. It all boils down to how long do you want to put up with the roller coaster ride before you take steps to stop the cycle and better your life? But going through the motions is what helps us with the guilt. If we gave up right away we may have second thoughts whether or not we did the right thing. But I will say i feel i spent my 21 years of marriage waiting to live my life the way i wanted and trying to make that happen with the wrong person. I also did love him and worried about what would happen to him if i left but then I realized that caring for him was in direct opposition to taking care of me and the children and our emotional health. You have to figure you deserve to be treated like a human being at the least and if they choose to abuse then you need to choose to let go and let God. God will do all He can to save His child but the free will of the addict will be his own no matter what. Just as God lets them choose we have to. God Bless everyone suffering from guilt as i have been there and still go there once in a while but I try to focus on reality and tell myself that my exah is making these choices and doing this to himself.

  • Debbie

    Gosh…I understand where you are, I’ve been in tough situations with my husband in the past too.

    I just knew I could fix him. I have spent thousands and thousands of $$$ arranging and dragging him to countless rehab’s. only to find him back drunk and pushing my buttons. Just when I said I wouldn’t do it anymore I would find myself back in chaos… Hmmm…. how did I get here again?

    What finally worked for me was facing my fear and going to Alanon meetings. I remember when someone suggested to me that I attend Alanon meetings. I thought they were crazy. After all I didn’t have a problem. I am very responsible. Why should I have to attend meetings?

    But, after being reaching my bottom with the Alcoholic and my bank account drained. I found myself not knowing where to turn. I decided to give Alanon a try. It was the best investment I made in me in a long time.

    They taught me how to get out of his way and focus on me. After finally getting out of his way, again and again… He on his only finally found sobriety.

    My suggestion would be to be kind to yourself and attend at least 5-6 Alanon’s meetings.

    Take care. I hope this helps you!

  • Mike

    Protect your bank account by having your own bank account.
    The drinker is in no way responsible for anything beyond owning their own toothbrush.
    Protect your side and let them sleep in the bed they have custom made for themselves.
    It’s like a child. What smart person has a bank account with an impulsive teenager? They’ll bleed you dry.
    Alcoholics are like 15 year-olds with just a little more money and have the maturity.

  • Mike

    Here’s the best way I have found to live with the alcoholic:
    Treat them like a 10-year old.
    Don’t give them money because they’ll buy gum (alcohol) with it.
    Don’t let them make decisions that affect the family, as they will only want to play with toys and watch TV.
    Keep them away from financial decisions. Monitor their car use, as they will only go out late and be with their friends (other drinkers).
    Don’t trust them, because they will always hide the truth. (like teenagers).
    The only difference is teenagers think they know everything, where drinkers have no clue what to think.
    Likewise, they both are very bad liars. So bad, it’s funny, especially with their short attention spans.
    Alcoholics are so bad, they will deny video of them drinking.
    They’ll deny the sun coming up if it weren’t for the fact that the sun burns their eyes.

  • Terri

    Thank you to everyone for all the comments I appreciate it very much. I never thought in a million years that I would be dealing with kind of situation. With my husband its harder because he cant even work. Because of health issues. He is on SSI and Im his payee so Its difficult because Its technically his money and If I keep It from him Its worse and I am afraid I will get into trouble for keeping It from him. I know what Io need to do for myself but Its a matter of doing It. I do know that Its not my fault but Its still frustrating.


    Stop living in a toxic relationship, your obligation is not to remain living in an abusive mind damaging situation. No one can help someone that will not help themselves. they lie to themselves and along with pride and ego and distorted thinking due to their drinking locks many alcoholics into denial.
    Love yourself enough to desire a healthy self-esteem and to do this, you have to leave the situation. For starters when in an abusive situation, call Weave. It is a place that hides you, gives a place to live and helps heal you. You can the number of Weave and a list of other helpful places by calling 211 (information line)
    Also writing feeling out via a journal or just writing about your situation, your feelings and recognizing what triggers your emotional pain and brainstorming for solutions by writing all this down; pour your heart out on paper helps healing, as well as, forgiveness, letting go and letting God and getting out of your toxic situation, freeing yourself from your inner critic and using self-talk (thoughts you repetitively think) to make changes that change you, as this is the only control we all have.
    love yourself enough to take care of you (and your children) and be grateful to God…you are not the alcoholic.

  • Elaine

    After 5 years of living with an alcoholic husband, worrying if he would have a wreck and kill someone, worrying if his company would find out and fire him, worrying if my family would find out…the police finally caught him!! Everyone I knew said he was playing the odds and would get caught…..well, he did! The day he was caught and the policeman called me to let me know my husband was going to jail was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders!! Even after he was caught and out on bail, he kept drinking….and a lot. This past Christmas he drove his pickup home with a huge dent in the front end and stated he hit a deer. I just knew he had hit and killed someone, so I called the police. Because he was already home on our property, the police could not do anything. He was so drunk that the policeman asked him if he needed to sit down. I checked the front of the pickup and there was NO fur, only yellow paint.
    He now has to attend AA, (I’m sure pay a fine, although he never told me how much), and his breath has to be tested at various times. Now, after 9 months, he says that 5 years is in the past and I should get over it. HA! Get over 5 years of my life in hell. I don’t think so. It’s not that easy.

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