Telltale signs present
in early Tina use
Someone we care
about is a problem Tina user
issues for partners
when to separate
issues for partners
Using issues for partners
The impacts of substance dependence on our life may be significantly
more difficult and complex if it is our significant other
that has a problem with Tina use. The impacts are greater
still if our relationship includes any or all of the following:
you live together, your finances are integrated, you have
a long-term relationship, or you are married. In addition
to the information, issues and helping strategies already
provided in this section, we think it is important to provide
additional support for guys whose primary partners have problem
use or dependence with Tina.
This article offers insights and advice on how to support
our partners, ourselves, and our relationships through this
difficult period. It’s important to understand the basics
of the drug our partner is using; why it’s different
from other drugs, and how it affects the brain and body. If
you haven’t already done so, now would be a good time
to refer to the PRIMER section of this site.
While every relationship is unique, there are predictable
patterns that emerge when substance abuse and dependence with
Tina become part of a primary relationship dynamic. Knowing
the terrain and what to expect can help you navigate. We have
attempted to group issues around themes for organization.
These elements are interrelated and you may not experience
them sequentially. If anything, guys find that they move back
and forth and in and out of these experiences. This is all
the more reason to pay attention to what we are feeling and
to get help to sort through the confusion.
It’s common that we will join with our partners in
explaining or justifying their use to ourselves and others.
We give our partners the benefit of the doubt because we love
them and the reality is often that there is another reason
besides using for being late, breaking a promise, missing
work, etc. That other reason may be the primary reason and
getting or recovering from being high might be secondary.
It’s important to note when this changes because this
indicates a shift in his priorities.
At first, we will not always know when our partner using.
This does not mean that we’re stupid. It probably means
that our partner is doing everything he can to hide it. Under
reporting and under representing use is common. Pay attention
when we minimize his use more frequently, especially outside
Another red flag is when we begin to notice a sense of accumulating
frustration, disappointment and general sense of not being
respected. So check in. How do we really feel about his use
and its effects on us and the relationship? What is okay with
us and what is not okay? These questions can provide us with
a way to ground ourselves in reality and to break out of the
Doubt and Distrust
Our response to our growing emotional discontent will eventually
lead us to confront our partner about his use. It’s
generally better doing this earlier rather than later because
to do otherwise allows him to continue with the fantasy that
we are okay with it. It’s generally better to plan what
we need to say rather than exploding in a fit of anger because
then we establish to the best of our ability a presentation
that reports on how we feel rather blaming or attacking. We
recommend reviewing the ‘Tips
for Talking’ article before you do cross this line.
This is a necessary step for us to begin to come out of our
denial and reduce our enabling of him. Despite our best efforts,
it may not go well. Our partners are likely to be defensive
and will tend to see us as the bad guy. We may take on roles
of being the parent, or seen as the policeman. Regardless,
we have the right and responsibility to express how his using
This dynamic is likely to be repeated and strengthened over
time. His words and actions may not match up and the gap between
them may grow. You doubt his sincerity and his ability to
control his use. At the same time, you want to believe him.
The more you have invested in the relationship the stronger
your faith may be. You accept his apologies and you forgive
him. Again and again.
Your frustration and disappointment can develop into anger.
You may continue to try and protect the relationship by hiding
the problem from others even as you don’t believe it
for yourself. Denial and doubt consume energy and we become
fatigued. Resentment and distrust emerge and become stronger.
It becomes harder and harder for us to pretend that everything
is okay. We cross another line when we disclose to someone
that it isn’t. This is another important step in breaking
down the wall of denial and practicing self-care. At this
point we probably have a stronger need to talk about our experiences
and release pent up feelings than we know. There are a number
of interventions you can make right now. Consider posting
to the FORUM, get advice from our PANEL, or investigate the
SUPPORT resources available in Toronto.
It’s common to feel like we’re on a roller coaster
of emotions. Life can seemingly return to ‘normal’
and then all of a sudden a conflict emerges from nowhere,
another plan to do something together is scuttled, money seems
to be missing again, he comes home late and lies about why,
or perhaps even disappears on a binge and we don’t know
where he is, or if he is ok. The apologies may continue, but
we believe them less and less. The gap between words and actions
grows. The drama increases in frequency and eventually becomes
the new ‘normal.’ We may be engaged in an ongoing
role of crisis management. Eventually, we may feel unable
to control the practical chaos of our own household. We are
likely to feel overwhelmed. We may become exhausted. At this
point we definitely need help and it is advisable to get it.
Sex and Intimacy
Sexual expression is a component of many, though not all,
gay and bi men’s experience with Tina. Tina can be a
powerful aphrodisiac. The differences in interest and libido
between you and your partner may become large and unmanageable
through this process of coping with his use. You may feel
as if you are in a non-consensual three way with Tina, or
that your partner has a mistress on the side and that sometimes
she is getting more of his time and energy than we are!
Trust is a foundation of intimacy in any long-term committed
relationship and it is often violated when dependence becomes
part of the relationship. Sex and intimacy can become things
we avoid, withhold, use as emotional leverage, or simply do
not feel like engaging in. Significant and even irreparable
damage can result from the consequences of sexual and intimacy
challenges. Infidelities and STIs can be introduced into the
relationship by either party. It is advisable that you protect
ourselves and make choices based on your long-term best interests.