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Discussing the effects of substance use is as important as discussing other major events such as cancer, loss of a family member, or whether or not to have children. We are not here to fight or blame each other, but to fight the challenge in our relationship together.

Discuss with your partner a story about how one incident related to active addiction has affected you personally and how it has affected your relationship. Stick with one specific incident you remember.

Part of the healing process is discuss feelings and experiences without blaming your partner in an environment of safety, acceptance, and validation.


  1. Describe a meaningful situation you remember during active addiction.
  2. Express your feelings about the situation.
  3. Describe how you feel this affected you.
  4. Avoid labeling your partner or self. Describe behavior and events as you remember them from your perspective.
  5. Avoid talking about the partner’s motivation or feelings. Keep the focus on your own feelings.For example:

Avoid: “You didn’t care about me.”
Instead: “I didn’t feel cared for.”

“When (this happened), I felt (scared, hurt, fearful, frustrated, rage). I think this affected me in the
following ways…”


Just listen to understand the feelings and perspective story of your partner. Try not to internalize the story to your own thoughts, feelings, and perspective. Approach this with empathy and validation to show understanding.

Questions for the Listener to ask

  1. What can you tell me about how this event has affected you?
    1. Our family?
    2. Our relationship?
  2. What can you tell me about your feelings?
  3. What did you understand about addiction at the time?
  4. What do you understand about addiction now?
  5. What were some of your biggest concerns at the time?
  6. Are there any regrets you have?
  7. Has this reminded you of anything in your family history?

Have any thoughts, questions, suggestions, or comments on this article? Wondering how to this can be applied, modified, or adapted to your polyamorous, swinging, kink/ BDSM, or otherwise interesting relationship? Feel free to reach out to us here.