by Jamie Leigh
I learned the hard way that you can’t change someone else. During my junior year of college I dated someone whom I absolutely adored. There was just one tiny problem… the way he drank and smoked weed. I realized my ex boyfriend, Ken, wasn’t just a social drinker. He would keep drinking until the bottle was empty, only to be puking later that night. Furthermore, he smoked weed every day, in deniable about how it affected his athletic performance (he was a top ranked collegiate athlete).
Ken treated me in a way that I have never been treated, which made it easy to ignore the red flags about his drinking and drug use. I fell in love with Ken’s sober side very quickly. We spent every night together, and he soon became my best friend. While our relationship developed, the drinking and smoking did not dissipate. The problem became a bigger deal the closer we became. I’ve been told numerous times that you can’t change someone, however, I thought this was different. I was convinced that his love for me would be enough to tame down his drinking and smoking. I couldn’t be more wrong. The only thing that changed about Ken’s drug use was his honesty about the issue. Instead of cutting back on his drinking and smoking, he lied to me about how often he did it.
I ignored the red flags that were waving so prominently in my face about Ken’s drug use because I really liked him. Issues do not go away, they become more hurtful and more problematic to your relationship the closer you get with that person. Moreover, it is more painful the longer you stay with the person. I had put off ending our relationship because I couldn’t imagine not being with Ken. Being in a dishonest and unhealthy relationship was less painful than dealing with him not being in my life. When the relationship finally ended, I was in such shock I couldn’t eat. I felt as though I could never make it to the other side, to be happy again. But then I did. It took months of healing, journalism and therapy to move on. I became stronger and I’m grateful for the experience of loving someone who had issues with drinking and drugs because now I understand how to steer clear of those men. I can smell them from a mile away. I now date men I can have honest, healthy and happy relationships with.
I encourage you to be wary of dating someone with an addiction or problem with drinking and drugs because it is easy to fall in love and not so easy to get out. If you are in a relationship similar to the one I had with Ken, I want you to know that there is no amount of love, arguing or convincing that can change someone’s drinking or drug problem. Change has to come from inner inspiration and motivation, not from you.