Dating an acoa
While the confused man stands shell shocked, we can examine his fiancee’s perspective. He had his life together, treated her kindly, and wanted a future with her. Everything seemed to be going well, and although she’d never had a healthy relationship modeled for her, this seemed good.
Other times a person can have alcoholic parents and know it, but not understand the extent to which growing up in that environment affected them.
For ACOAs, this state of confidence in your ability to make decisions and act upon them is not reached so easily.
Someone (anyone) else's opinion often influences yours.
The sensation of beginning relationships is much like being swallowed whole and re-wiring one’s self for a new identity — the identity of our new love, whatever he or she needs us to be.
With that kind of beginning, it’s easier to understand the hallmark get close-pull away pattern that often gets established in relationships in which one partner grew up around addiction.
You sense that something’s wrong, but you don’t know what.
Many ACOAs are very successful, hard-working, and goal-driven. Your needs must be met consistently in order for you to feel safe and develop secure attachments. You really can’t understand addiction as a child, so you blame yourself and feel “crazy” because your experiences didn’t line up with what adults were telling you (namely that everything’s fine and normal).
Having protected their families by keeping secrets, ACAs may try to act in a certain way in order to be accepted by others, which can come across as inauthentic.