Do I have the girl I really want?
January 4, 2008 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Ok, so I've been in this relationship now for about 9 months, this girl is 8 years older than me. I am in my late 20's. Both of us are recovering alcoholics, both sober almost 1 year presently. We met in "the program," as it were...and I'm having some residual difficulty feeling "committed" to the relationship. I check out other women and think about other women on a semi-regular basis - fantasize about women I see, know, occasional porn, etc. Just recently a woman I work with who I am considerably attracted to, and who has participated in mutual flirting around with at work for a while (minor-type), mentioned to me her desire to meet somebody.

Well, I mentioned to her that a friend referred me to another department for an opportunity there, and apparently she worked in this department before. So she asked me if this guy was single, and I told her that he, being a friend of mine who is single, was in fact. They didn't know each other upon investigation.

So I got in contact with my buddy, showed him a phone cam pic of her, and he liked what he saw. I told her a little about my buddy, shaded him in a very good light, and expressed to her his interest in meeting her. She is interested in meeting him. Furthermore, she has me classified on that "freind" level I believe, since we've known each other so long and I haven't made any moves on her due to my current involvement, and know very well what this means. No, I am not some unattractive, clueless guy who doesn't understand it might be too late.

Now this buddy actually likes my girlfriend; and ironically, I like the girl I'm setting him up with. But problem #1 is: I work with this girl, and problem #2 is: I am already involved, and was previously involved before I met this girl I am attracted to at work.

I found myself pondering a twist in all of our fates: what if he got my girl, and I went for the one I'm setting him up with? I know this girl at work is attracted to me, so it would seem like a plausible outcome. Not that conditions are ideal though!

For those who know about the alcoholic mind: would this thinking have anything to do with my spritual sickness? Mental obsession? Sensitivity for more? What would be the rational thing to do here? And why am I having feelings of covetousness for what I'm about to do for this buddy of mine? I mean I am really hooking him up here. This girl is FINE. Not that my girlfriend isn't a looker, seriously. Do I just want it all? Is this dangerous thinking? I need some help with this.

Please, I realize I may not be ready for a serious committment here with my girlfriend, and the twist here is that we're BOTH of the cautious mindset. But this is an uncomfortable place for me to be, and I want to get free of it. Any advice FROM EXPERIENCE would be welcomed. Please refrain from giving pop-psych advice I could think up myself, or read in any issue of Men's Health, and thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Talk to your sponsor, if you think it's to do with your alcoholic mind.
posted by essexjan at 8:46 AM on January 4, 2008

What would be the rational thing to do here? And why am I having feelings of covetousness for what I'm about to do for this buddy of mine?

Stay with your girlfriend, and try to be happy for your buddy's good fortune. You're going to meet women that you are attracted to, and obviously you aren't going to be able to start relationships with all of them. You're feeling conflicted because you would like to be in his position, but for various reasons can't be.

I found myself pondering a twist in all of our fates: what if he got my girl, and I went for the one I'm setting him up with? I know this girl at work is attracted to me, so it would seem like a plausible outcome.

Everyone has these kind of thoughts, so there's nothing abnormal or wrong about it. The problem with this kind of thinking though is that you don't really know if you'd be more happy with this new girl than your current girlfriend. That's why its usually a good idea to stick with your current relationship if everything is working for both of you.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:04 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

AA, like most recovery programs, recommends that people not start new relationships until they have been sober for one full year. You have picked AA as your recovery process of choice. You should abide by its recommendations, or at the very least, give some serious thought to why they're there beyond just "but I feel like dating this chick, so I'm going to ignore that policy."

You don't seem to care much about your girlfriend if you'd be willing to "swap" her for another woman. From the tone of your question, it seems to me as though you care more about having a girlfriend than you do about being with any particular woman. That's a red flag. I would recommend that you try being single and sober for one full year to see if you can take care of yourself and your own needs before you bring anyone else into it.
posted by decathecting at 9:18 AM on January 4, 2008 [5 favorites]

It sounds like you're chasing something that you know you shouldn't have.* Or at the very least, is unlikely to end well. Does that sound like anything you're familiar with?

*I say "shouldn't have" because this girl is riddled with caveats...she's into your friend, you work with her, and she may not be attainable or interested. Not to mention that she may not understand the implications of dating a recovering alcoholic. Not to mention that YOU ARE IN A RELATIONSHIP ALREADY.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:24 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Advice given as someone with a lot of family history with alcoholism and AA but I'm not personally in the program or an alcoholic.

What would be the rational thing to do here?

You already know the answer. The rational thing to do is to figure out the relationship you're in. If your heart is not really in this thing, you owe it to both yourself and the person you're with to sort that out so you can both get on with your lives. Very casual, no-follow-up flirting, checking out and fantasizing about women, both strangers and acquaintances, and occasional porn are all pretty normal parts of healthy, committed relationships. The real issue is, you don't sound satisfied in your relationship. Let's face it, a lot of relationships between who hook up people early in the program don't work out.

I found myself pondering a twist in all of our fates: what if he got my girl, and I went for the one I'm setting him up with?

If anything in your situation is "alcoholic" thinking, it's this - the notion that you could somehow get whatever you happen to have a momentary yen for without any real consequences. That ship sailed, the disposition of that relationship is between them now. The switcheroo you propose is obviously absurd to any rational person. You really want a shot at your friend, you can take one, and there are two methods: you can dump your current girlfriend and hope things don't work out with your two friends, or you can be some specimen on a scale of big assholes by seeking to cheat on both your girlfriend and/or your guy friend.

I agree with essexjan, if you want to think about relating this to your program in general, talk to your sponsor or another more experienced recovered addict you trust. All the things you're feeling are normal and nothing to be ashamed about, it's the way you react to these feelings that is going to matter - and what's going to be important is whether your actions are honest, and ethical, and honor the choices you've made and the relationships you're in.
posted by nanojath at 9:42 AM on January 4, 2008 [4 favorites]

For those who know about the alcoholic mind: would this thinking have anything to do with my spritual sickness?

One thing I find in the drama of addiction is a closed, self-reinforcing loop of desire, satiation, remorse, and relapse. I want the drink or the smoke, I have it, I feel bad about it, then I do it again.

Your hankerings for other women, especially this woman in the other department, sound a little like the first part of this loop. You're looking for an external cure for your feelings of restlessness and discontentment. The danger is that once you have the new woman, you'll still feel restless.

The other thing I hear in your story that sounds addict-y to me is the desire to manage other people's lives for your convenience. You want to set up your friend because it makes you feel like a good guy -- but secretly you want him to take your girlfriend off your hands so you can have the new girl. Wouldn't that be great for everyone? Well, yes -- except that they are separate and autonomous people, with desires of their own, not characters in your fantasy scenario.

What I don't hear in your story is anything about your girlfriend, or the nature of your relationship with her. You literally don't say one thing about her except her age, where you met her, and that she's good looking. That suggests that you have a serious issue with self-absorption -- another huge tendency for addicts.

Your restlessness may be about more than just compulsive grabbing at a new stimulus. It may be an indicator that your relationship is not right for you. Or it may be you trying to bolt because things are getting serious.

But as long as you're focused on fantasy women, you're not going to be able to figure that out. You need to take a long, hard look at yourself -- what you need, and what you're bringing to this relationship. Try turning your attention to being a good and loving partner to the woman you are actually involved with, rather than frittering your energy away on daydreams.

And you seriously need to have this conversation with your sponsor.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:58 AM on January 4, 2008 [9 favorites]

Another alcoholic in recovery here, and if I could give ottereroticist two favorites, I would.

Also, where is your higher power in all of this?
posted by Roach at 10:11 AM on January 4, 2008

Get out of your current relationship by telling her you want to see other women. Or ask her if she would like to see other people. The latter keeps her in the mix as you persue other women.

I would avoid the girl you set your friend up with until their relationship ends.

Some of these prudes will tell you you're being an "asshole" by wanting to swap. But what you are being is genuine and up front.

Why tie yourself down if you don't want to be (and then eventually cheat anyway)?

And why to these morality policemen always want others to suffer like that?
posted by wfc123 at 12:33 PM on January 4, 2008

Because someone's done it to them and they're only good at doing unto others what has been done to them. In a way that doesn't address their own feelings enough wfc123.
posted by gmodelo at 3:24 PM on January 4, 2008

What ottereroticist said.

You say you've been together 9 months and you've been in recover for "almost a year"? What part of "one full year" did you think didn't apply to you?

Also, why are you asking us and not your sponsor?

Thinking that guidelines and repercussions don't apply is very much addict thinking.

posted by small_ruminant at 4:20 PM on January 4, 2008

Do you really think the two women would just happily go along with being traded like baseball cards? No. Would they like you if they knew you thought this way? No, not if they have any self respect. You're not being "genuine" by telling the girls you view them as basically stocks to be traded, and wfc123 is way off about "moral policing" - this isn't about morality, as in one person's debatable set of values, unless you count treating women as people as a debatable value. Sure, break up with your girlfriend if you feel you need to, but drop this swapping idea now. Learn to value a person based on their merits and how you relate to them, independent of external criteria like how hot she is compared to another girl, or you will not be happy with any girl.

It's a bad attitude about relationships that sounds separate from your problems with alcoholism to me. Maybe it's not, but does that change how you should deal with it? Not really. Try relating to you girlfriend like she's not a sandwich you can trade with a classmate at lunch. She's a person. Decide, independently of self-centered talk of your "alcoholic mind", if she's a good person and if your value her enough to continue the relationship and invest the effort. It sounds like you need practice in empathy.
posted by slow graffiti at 6:52 PM on January 4, 2008

No major relationships for the first year. Talk to your sponsor.

Really, ask.metafilter is about the worst place you could bring this. There are reasons that meetings take place offline.

Yes, I know there are online meetings now. They aren't what will get and keep you sober.
posted by QIbHom at 6:55 PM on January 4, 2008

Anonymous, why are you afraid to have other people care about you? You're here and anonymous and having people you don't even know look after you.

As good a thing as MeFi is, as a person with an addiction you need to connect with people and stop hiding. Go to meeting. Find your sponsor. Quit juggling girls you don't care about, that you aren't really connected to, that you are using as a substitute for your addiction.

Disclaimer: former girlfriend of an addict and therefore recovering from codependency.
posted by RobotHeart at 6:44 AM on January 5, 2008

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