How do I diminish the guilt I feel for leaving my alcoholic partner?

by Mary
(Midlothian, IL )

My partner and I have been living together for 19 months now. He stopped drinking about 8 months ago on his own. While I thought this was a great accomplishment, I now see patterns of behavior I do not know how to handle. Our fighting has become so serious that he has now moved out. My question is - why do I feel so guilty? I feel like I abandoned him at this very critical time of his life. He is irresponsible, immature and I see now he cannot function on his own.

While I now have serenity back in my home, the guilt I feel is so overwhelming. I feel as though I've abandoned a child left with no defenses.

I'm considering attending a CODA meeting this week as I feel, unconsciously, I became an enabler and I no longer want that role.

I blame myself for this relationship. I initiated it not knowing what price I would pay in the end. I had no idea I was getting involved with an alcoholic as he only drank on weekends after work. I feel foolish that I did not recognize this behavior right from the beginning.

I know this is such a complicated topic but please help me to let go of this guilt.

Thank you so much.


This is a common phenomenon with women because women are nurturers. When we see a person, especially a man that we love, who needs help, we feel an obligation to help in every way possible. It’s not surprising that you feel like you have abandoned him. In a way, you have. However, this is not a bad thing so it’s not something to feel guilty about.

He is a grown man and getting help is his responsibility. He won’t own it unless he seeks it himself. If he is irresponsible and immature, that is not your fault. It could be the result of bad parenting, poor mental health, or something else, but it is not your fault nor your responsibility.

It sounds like the relationship ended because it was unhealthy. An unhealthy relationship is not good for you and it’s also not good for him and his recovery. An unhealthy romantic relationship can be very damaging to an alcoholic’s recovery and maintenance of sobriety. He will be better served by delaying all romantic relationships until further into his recovery process. Just because he hasn’t drank for 8 months doesn’t mean that he is recovered. The unsettling patterns of behavior that you observed are likely a part of the addiction. Alcohol may have been his way to cope. Removing alcohol doesn’t remove all of the underlying reasons for drinking.

He will need a support system if he intends to maintain sobriety but that support system probably should not include you. You may be a great supporter but because you are a previous romantic relationship, your involvement could hinder his progress.

Sometimes you just need someone to say, “It’s ok to move on.” Well, it’s ok to move on. You aren’t doing anything wrong. He is not your responsibility.

Here is more information on dating an alcoholic and living with an alcoholic.

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May 05, 2017
Non functioning alcoholic
by: Anonymous

I've been married to my wife for 10 years and watched her decline through alcoholism. She lost her memory 4 years ago and has recovered to a point. She does nothing with her day and insists on going out to the bar every day with huge financial implications. I've had enough and want to move on but am worried she'll kill herself if I leave...

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Why do I feel bad about leaving my alcoholic spouse?

We have no children or other reasons to stay together. I feel like he couldn't survive on his own though. Why do I care, he just makes me miserable?

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Nov 18, 2020
Living with an alcoholic due to no where to get out
by: Anonymous

I'm married to an alcoholic. He been in critical Care on respirator 5 years in a row. Two times needed blood transfusion, once his heart stopped, 3 times vomited chunks of blood, now a diabetic alcoholic. Has has 3 times Malory Weis tears. He refused to stop. I feel guilty to leave him. He will die for sure. He is like a lost boy.Has no family in USA. A immigrant. Not seen his family in 27 yrs. Uses that to drink. Plus the usual promises to quit. Never does. Comes out hospital clean and grabs a beer before we get home from hospital. Drinks 24 ok. A day and night. If I leave he will be homeless. Should I feel guilty?

Nov 10, 2020
Alcoholic ex
by: Anonymous

I too left my alcoholic ex over a year ago, we have ab 8 year old daughter, he continues to drink and verbally abuses me, I still feel under his control andI don’t no why!!!! But u have to let go and look after your own mental health xx

May 28, 2019
Leave if you suspect they are alcoholic
by: Anonymous

My relationship with my alcoholic became intolerable. He would every now and then agree there was a problem, but they were far and few between. Because he claimed he wasn't violent towards me, he couldn't see what the problem was. It didn't matter about the constant broken promises, the lies, the money it took to drink constant bottles of vodka, not to mention the lack of intimacy. I tried and tried every trick in the book, until one morning, I gathered my belongings, walked up to him and said " I'm leaving", and I turned and walked away. It's so difficult, because there comes a great amount of grief, for you and him. I just wish that I had walked away right at the beginning, because if you think you can love them better, you will only break your heart in doing so.

God bless you if you are still living that life with them.

Aug 04, 2018
I feel bad about leaving my alcoholic partner too
by: Anonymous

But what else is there to do? I can't stay with him because he is dragging me down with him. We are both unhappy and I can't see anything changing for the better.

Wish I had of left him a long time ago. It is so true that the partner of an alcoholic has to hit rock bottom too before they leave.

Even though I have hit rock bottom I still miss him.

It's a mental fight each day not to call him but every day I congratulate myself. Now I have to think of me and recover, some days it feels as if I never will.

All the best to everyone in their recovery from addiction

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