Dating as an acoa
It also leaves you highly sensitive to criticism and conflict.
You work hard, always trying to prove your worth and make others happy.
Most of the adult children of alcoholics that I know underestimate the effects of being raised in an alcoholic family. If you’re an adult child of an alcoholic, you feel different and disconnected.
More likely it’s shame and simply not knowing that adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs), as a group, tend struggle with a particular set of issues.
Your partner might still be actively trying to get their parent into treatment, or your partner may have come to a place where they no longer try to intervene.
Either way, this situation affects your partner’s mental health.
When you feel unworthy, you can’t love yourself and you can’t let others love you either.
Self-criticism External messages that you’re bad, crazy, and unlovable become internalized.
The Adult Children of Alcoholics website has a list of fourteen characteristics of ACOAs, called “The Laundry List.” Either way, it’s likely some of these characteristics have lingered into your partner’s adult personality, and may be showing up in your relationship.
Researchers have found that adult children of alcoholics sometimes struggle in relationships because of lack of trust, loneliness, emotional denial, feelings of guilt, shame and rage, sadness, being unsure of their identity, needing control, having issues asserting themselves, being desperate to please others, and overreacting to criticism.
In addition, it’s thought that ACOAs are more likely than the general population to constantly seek approval and validation, feel that they are “different,” be super-responsible, judge themselves harshly, be extremely loyal, and plunge into action without considering consequences.
A sudden change of plans or anything that feels out of your control can trigger your anxiety and/or anger. It’s natural to close off your heart as a form of self-protection. You hold back emotionally and will only reveal so much of your true self.
This limits the amount of intimacy you can have with your partner and can leave you feeling disconnected.
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It’s probably not too difficult to see why being an ACOA can make romantic relationships as an adult challenging.