7 Signs It May Be Time to Break Up With Your Sponsor

In the 12-Step program, having a sponsor can be beneficial when it comes to getting the support you need during recovery. But what if you feel your sponsor is not meeting your needs? Is it better to stick it out, or time for a clean break? Read more to find out signs it may be time for a change and how to end the relationship amicably.

Should I Find A New Sponsor?

A sponsor can serve as a voice of reason when things feel confusing in recovery. As a sponsor, the opportunity to be of assistance to someone else and help them in recovery can be a steady reminder of your value to others as well as how far you have come in your own recovery.

However, the term temporary sponsor is used when talking about connecting with someone as a sponsor in the 12-Step program because there is no commitment or contract implied by the agreement. Whether the relationship lasts for 2 hours or 20 years, it is still a “temporary” situation because either person is free to decide at any time that it is no longer working for any reason.

This means that if you are unhappy with your sponsor, or the relationship is just not working out for you for any reason, you can easily part ways. Still not sure if it is time to change sponsors? Here are signs that it may be time for you to move on from your current sponsor/sponsee relationship:

1. Your sponsor is unavailable or your schedules don’t align. If your sponsor does not answer your calls or texts or return them in a timely manner, never has time to see you, repeatedly misses meetings, or cancels them at the last minute. It may be that you have opposite schedules, but this is a sign it’s not a good fit.

2. Your sponsor seems uninterested or dismissive of you. If your sponsor is negative, rude, sarcastic, or otherwise unhelpful, then the relationship is not providing you with the positivity and support you need to thrive in recovery.

3. Your sponsor keeps changing the topic away from you and your recovery. If your sponsor is more interested in talking about their significant other, job, planned activities, or challenges in life then this will not be a positive sponsor/sponsee relationship. While it is good for friends to share equally about what is going on with them, when it comes to meetings with your sponsor, the focus should be on you.

4. Your sponsor hits on you or flirts with you, or vice versa. If there are romantic feelings from your sponsor toward you or you toward your sponsor, then the focus is not on you and your recovery. A relationship early in recovery and between a sponsor and sponsee is not recommended if you want to be successful in recovery.

5. Your sponsor is struggling with his or her own sobriety. Maybe your sponsor has confessed to having trouble staying sober and is on the verge of relapse. In this case, they may not be in a position to offer enough support.

6. Your sponsor encourages you to do things you do not feel comfortable with. Asking you to babysit for them, attempting to psychoanalyze you and your experiences, making recommendations about the medications you should or should not take – these things and more are all outside the healthy boundaries of a sponsor/sponsee relationship. In most cases, if you feel uncomfortable about what your sponsor is asking of you, it is a good idea to end the relationship.

7. Your sponsor has a “one way for all” approach to recovery and imposes it on you. Your path to recovery is unique and has just one thing in common with the paths of everyone else seeking sobriety: You must stay sober above all else. Almost everything else is negotiable and can be accomplished on your timetable.

Making A Clean Break

It’s important to note, changing a sponsor just to try someone new without a valid reason/s may not be the best approach. However, if you have weighed your options and are ready to make a change here are some tips:

Keep it simple and to the point. No need to go into elaborate explanations and every detail that led you to the decision to change sponsors. Most sponsors will be fine with just hearing that their sponsee wants to try somebody else.

Honesty is the best policy. In recovery and in life it is best, to always tell the truth. It is not recommended that people make up lies about why they wish to change sponsors – even if these lies are well-intentioned.

Don’t break up in a text. Like any relationship, it is best to tell the sponsor face to face. Avoid sending emails, text messages, or leaving a message.

Don’t Speak Negatively. Remember, you should not use this as an opportunity to make negative accusations or gossip.

Express Gratitude. It is important to thank the sponsor for their efforts, this is a volunteer service and it is best to leave the relationship on good terms.

Remember, recovery is a lifelong journey, and it is up to you whom you choose to make a part of your journey.

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