I’ve done a fair bit of dating this year and as per usual I found myself liking yet another guy who has a history of substance abuse. It got me to thinking, why? What is it about this really specific kind of person that I always like?
Drugs have been around my world for as long as I can remember. My parents were stoners, they also grew and sold and were open about their use of other stuff mostly pre kids. The kids I hung out with all started experimenting with drugs young. My first long term boyfriend wanted to insatiably put any mind altering substance in his body at all times. My
second was a closet user, I knew about some of the times he did drugs but not to the actual extent. My current boyfriend has a colorful history with drugs. It’s definitely not weird to me to go on a date with someone I know has had drug problems. Which is probably weird. So you could argue that a life that involves drugs is what I know and I’m going with what’s familiar but there’s more to it than that.
In the past year the dates I’ve gone on and I really liked the guys they all had substance abuse history in common. I think what I like about these guys is they are willing to be vulnerable and put all their cards on the table right away. They talk about their colorful history, telling crazy stories, sad stories and stories of getting clean. They are very introspective and tell me their feelings. It’s like they are bearing their soul up front so you can accept their past as is or run. It’s hard topics to hear about sometimes but the dates feel much more fulfilling. It’s not just all superficial small talk about what each other does for a living, I don’t have to sit there and hear about their normal upbringing and feel awkward telling them about mine. It’s raw and there’s something beautiful about a person exposing themselves in spite of fear of being hurt by the words they say. I can relate to their less than perfect lives. They have generally gone through a lot.
I’m not by any means trying to romanticize substance abuse. Being in a relationship with someone who’s using drugs is so not a good idea and I’ll never do it again. I used to think for a girl when her dad dies that’s the greatest pain she will ever go through, but I was wrong. Watching someone you love destroy themselves with drugs, not want to stop and being forced to remove yourself from their life, that’s real pain. Just totally debilitating heart break. I’m very cautious about dating people who I know have had issues with substance abuse. I know a person’s past is in their past but for some people it’s a life long battle and I’m just not in it. I’m not immune to drugs myself so the best thing I can do for myself is to stay away from them. I’ve never had a problem with them and haven’t done them since before I was old enough to get into the bar but I know I’m not bigger or smarter than drugs.
I’ve had a lot of people come up with these reasons why I click better with these men.
Telling me I’m addicted to addicts or it’s what’s familiar to me. I’d like to think it’s because I like fulfilling dates where we really get to know each other. Who knows. I think where the familiarity comes in is when someone tells me they have 2 years clean off heroin, it doesn’t scare me away. I don’t think that’s crazy or enough to stop me from giving someone the time of day. I hate that there’s a stigma around people who have had substance abuse issues, like they should be automatically discounted from my dating pool because for some reason using drugs years ago means they’re not good enough. I just don’t feel that way, if they aren’t using drugs and are having a fully functional adult life I’ll give them the same chance I give everyone else. I also chose not to use the words addict or addiction much in this because I hate the negative stigma associated with those labels. People forgot those are human beings with feelings just like everyone else and not some kind of filthy contagious leper. My sister, who is my empathy gauge, put it into perspective for me once while we were watching a guy go through a garbage can. “He was a baby in his mother’s arms once.” And then she hugged my niece.