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  • Writer's pictureParis

Codependent in Carlisle

Dear Paris,

I’m trying to get healthy, and my boyfriend isn’t on board. He says he’s supportive of my choices, but he isn’t changing anything about his own lifestyle. How can I better myself when I spend all my time with someone who is still living with the same bad habits I’m trying to get away from?


Codependent in Carlisle

Dear Codependent,

First off, happy Autumnal Equinox, and joyous Mabon. Welcome to Libra season, the perfect time to talk about this particular problem. Libra’s scales hover over the shift into fall, reminding us of both the importance of balance and also the horror of swinging wildly back and forth when we’ve chained our own stability to someone else’s weight.

Paris has quit a lot of things over the years. Drinking, smoking, carbs, religion, socials, you name it and your girl has quit it. She has quit it. Singular. Because no matter how much a person supports your vices, they are not responsible for your relationship with yourself and the things you consume.

That doesn’t mean they make it easy. If you think your boyfriend needs to quit the same things you need to quit in order for him to be healthy, there’s a good chance you’re right. It might be similar tastes that brought you together, or falling into a rut may have been a team effort. Either way, overdoing it isn’t a good look on anyone. Having said that, no matter how bummed out you are by what he’s doing, whether he does it isn’t up to you.

This means you don’t have a ton of options. You may be in ultimatum territory, and that’s totally fair if it’s an ultimatum you’re giving to yourself, not to your man. If you can’t make healthy choices around people who are making unhealthy choices, then you need to own that. Sit him down. Tell him, “It’s not you, it’s me.” You know whether you can handle being exposed to the things you’re trying to avoid. You know you’re choosing to prioritize your health and mental wellbeing. This means that you have to be willing to leave the situation if he doesn’t want to follow your path.

And if you do end up having to leave the relationship because he isn’t ready to give up his vices, that’s not a shortcoming on his part. It’s not him choosing something over you. It’s you choosing yourself over your relationship. He still may have a problem with his lifestyle. He still may one day regret not taking the opportunity to change and preserve your relationship. Both of those things can be true, and it still wouldn’t be wrong on his part to let you leave.

Because people don’t live for other people. They don’t get addicted for other people. They don’t quit for other people. You will always be the force of will behind your decisions, your steps forward, and your ability to release and let things go. He will always be the force of will for himself. If we could quit things for each other or because someone else wanted us to, there would be no alcoholics or addicts in this world. If love could stop us from hurting ourselves, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Changing your lifestyle isn’t always so cut and dry. If you start a 12-step program when you’re single, members typically advise that you don’t date anyone till you’ve been sober for at least a year. A lot of people should probably wait even longer. But there are countless people in marriages or long-term relationships who make a change successfully, on their own, while staying together. Sometimes their partners will keep indulgences (and temptation) out of the home. Sometimes, people find that codependence is the driving force, that abstinence for one member of a couple creates immediate temperance for the other because they were never an addict; they were just always down to match frequencies.

How long have you stuck with your changes? Has your boyfriend kept up at the same pace you two were at before after you’ve made your changes? Have you been able to stick to your commitments regardless of what’s happening around you? How much time are you willing to wait to see how things play out? You need to answer all these questions for yourself before you bring him into it.

One thing I will say about lifestyle changes is that they really only happen when it’s time for them to happen. That’s why people say you should quit smoking as many times as it takes to actually quit smoking. It’s beyond annoying that we can’t just decide to be different, but we can decide to try. Sure, relapses and setbacks can be disappointing, but if you really want it, it’ll take eventually. Most people start trying to quit smoking within a year of starting, and yet they may not find success for decades.

It’s impossible to pin down what the magic ingredient is that makes a change really stick, but I guarantee, it isn’t another person. You’ll often hear people say that it just clicked one day. Don’t be too hard on your boyfriend if today’s not his day. Just focus on yourself and staying open to the moment where it sticks for you. You may have to change the company you keep, and that’s a hard decision, but you’ll make the right choices for yourself when you’re truly ready. Whether it’s your boyfriend making good decisions for himself, too, or it’s you gravitating toward new social situations that pair well with your higher vibe, you’ll find the people who support you, and you won’t likely miss much about the way you used to feel.

I wish you the best of luck in taking the right steps for your health and happiness, fully owning your own shit.



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