When to Step Away from an Unsupportive Relationship

Unsupportive Relationship

One of the most important tasks in recovery is learning to take responsibility for our lives and relationships. For many of us accustomed to blaming people and circumstances for our addictions and our unhappiness, this is a hard lesson. The Big Book’s insistence that we look at what we’ve done rather than what others have done to us is a vital challenge.

I remember early in my sobriety, I complained to my sponsor that the woman I was dating wasn’t doing her part. “I accept everything’s supposed to be 50/50 in a good relationship, but”—and my sponsor cut me off.

“It’s not 50/50. It’s 100/100. You can’t think about her part. Just take care of yours. If you put in 100 percent, she will too.”

This is great direction, except for one thing. Sometimes, the problem really isn’t us.

One of the easiest mistakes to make in early sobriety is to swing too rapidly from one extreme to another. I’ve seen many addicts who were angry, embittered and full of blame while they were using evolve into considerate, responsibility-taking sober men and women.

When you embrace the program’s insistence on taking responsibility, you can unintentionally end up in a situation where you believe everything bad is your fault. You no longer blame others but instead blame yourself. And this too is a mistake, and a dangerous one at that.

The philosophy of 100/100 is the idea that each of us takes total responsibility but also expects total responsibility from others. We are not white knights saving the world; we can’t be more responsible than anyone else. And if someone else isn’t pulling their weight, or is unsupportive in some way, we need to let them go.

No matter what we’ve done in the past, we have a right to stand up for ourselves and set boundaries. Accepting responsibility doesn’t mean always being at fault. Ours is a program of service, but it is not a program of victimhood. With guidance from sober friends and a sponsor, you need to know it’s okay to walk away from anything and anyone that undermines you.

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