Page 1 of 1

"Sponsor Friends" ( +romance/friendship)

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 11:56 am
by No.3
What are your thought on Sponsors' relationships with sponsees? Everything from FRIENDSHIP to ROMANCE, the full spectrum.

In my own early sobriety (23yo) my spons were old men (retirement age, 40+ yr age gap) and it was strictly business. Alcoholics: not "alike" on externals. My 21yo sober roommate had a 24yo spons and they were like buds, same-same.

In late sobriety, the age gap w/ my spons has narrowed to 20yrs, mine's still an old man of a different generation. I'd say it's strictly business, but he speaks of sponsees as "friends." I don't use that word so lightly; friendship is an intimacy.

My own spons experience isn't so different: same age gap, less than 15 of the last 60+ guys were from similar socioeconomic background; most are from other parts of the state in residential programs. My sponsees of the last few years have included everything from clingy, intimacy-craving basket-cases (still sober!) to emotionally distant, evasive, near-absent psychopaths (still using &miserable.) I try to limit my spons of the latter for all the reasons implied in the BB, and my own ESH w/ psychopaths isn't successful.

So I would call a few sponsees "friends" the way many of my former sponsees are; w/ the vast majority, it's strictly business if they're still in stepwork. Maybe 50% are totally mysterious to me - vulnerable and shy, or maybe evasive psychopath - it's yet unclear. While I do provide ample AA companionship (network, contact, advice, etc.) I'm not in their other social networks. (In many cases, I'd never want to be.) Currently, only one sponsee is what I might loosely call a "friend" and we're separated by 25yrs in age. We don't share many external similarities, but his parents & I both got sober in the same approx. place/time. So my Fellowship is nearly all about AA stuff, not "hanging out" or other life stuff that I see & hear other spons/sponsees do - call it 'Sponsor Friends'? I don't do that, but I wonder if I should.

I don't "feel" lonely in AA, but maybe I am. The Elder Statesman role seems to come at a price: I've never dated in AA, obviously no sex relations with sponsees! So I wonder if I should remain so program-focused, educational? I'm leery of mixing AA and my social/romantic life. I know an AA family member had a long term (romantic) relationship with her sponsor (over 12 years) and dated other AAs before and after - without any problems beyond 'normal life' stuff. They were of the same class, social circle, background however. I do have lots of 'AA friends in AA' but we don't share outside lives either. I'm wondering about that (im)balance, if I'm too matter-of-fact, too relationship adverse across the board. (fwiw I'm single, happily bachelor; not looking for life-companion either.) Do people (not) recommend building outside lives, inside AA?

What immediately triggered this reflection: an AA friend (after 2yrs sober) recently relapsed and has just asked me to spons. I got the sense that was coming &his spons hinted that, but I'm also feeling abit like "rebound guy" in all this. His fmr spons was a bud; they hung out, did tons of "Sponsor Friend stuff" totally alien to me. Am I supposed to be new spons bud, after being old AA friend? Is 'spons friends' even wise? Or am I asked, because whatever he had before obviously didn't work just "carry on as usual, professor"?

Would sponsoring a previous friend be an intimacy challenge for you, have you done it? New boundary issues arise? I've only sponsored strangers, previously.

Re: "Sponsor Friends"

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:37 pm
by No.3
I recently read the Grapevine book on sponsorship ESH: One-on-One, highly recommend it. It's a hodgepodge of this, that and t'other with female spons relationships sounding most intimate. I do hug and tell my sponsees "I love you man!" so I doubt anyone who knows me would ever accuse me of being cold.

Another recent episode that got me thinking - I asked a tough, respected guy w/ 15yrs if he's available to spons others. Yebbut: he makes his guys do AWOLS, 5th Step w/ RC priest, etc. He says he's NOT a "Step Sponsor"; emphatically, he doesn't "do" that. Hmm. Now I'm not going to knock that variety of sponsorship, it must work for some, but it's alien to me. I can imagine "sponsor friends" have a lot more capacity for socializing: you can hang out with 3 or 4 sponsees in the garage or whatever, catch a game together, stripclubs, sober bro stuff. Again, I don't really understand how that sponsor relationship works - but hey, it sure sounds easy and fun! And I bet I can get fries with that.

I won't deny it: I feel abit churchlady, in contrast, recommending a prayer to some 20yr old kid on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Is this why I have no sponsee friends? :lol:

Re: "Sponsor Friends" ( +romance/friendship)

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:53 pm
by PaigeB
Sponsorship is all business with me! NO romance, ever. That sort of complicated relationship will certainly need an outside eye available to gain perspective, LOL. I had a sponsee who fell in love with my son's best friend (I was like the guy's mom). It got complicated almost immediately the first time they had a fight over toilet paper. My perspective may have been spot on, but she thought that I was biased. We made the decision right then to transition her to another sponsor.

I think I have developed a friendship with my sponsor and my sponsee's but when sit down to do the work we approach it from the angle that it is a life or death mission. During that allotted time, we "keep the book between us" as my sponsor says. If I call my sponsor, now that I have finished the Steps and we do not have a regular time to meet, I let her know I need to make a time to see her or that I need direction. Though she is my friend, we seldom have calls that are just for chat. Now, I have a sponsee who has a very busy life and even though she has completed the Steps, we still meet weekly and sometimes we just chat. She only regularly gets to 1 meeting a week. I hooked her up with a service job and the day she does that she will also hit a meeting, but she wished to have that time with me as a contact with AA and so we do it. That might change if she gets a sponsee that she will meet with weekly. In January we are going to start reading a book by an AA member regarding defects of character, via Steps 6 and 7.

So... romance NO NO. Different gender is a no as well, but exceptions can be made with this one. Friends I would say is completely doable as long as boundaries are established and kept. I might have missed something, but happy to discuss these things. Sponsorship is important. It is a commitment that both people have to be comfortable with because there are vulnerabilities on both sides and trust should be paramount.

Re: "Sponsor Friends" ( +romance/friendship)

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 3:44 pm
by Tosh
I'm friendly and I guess I could safely call a couple of sponsees friends; I see them regularly at my homegroup.

But I tend to keep it formal and program orientated.

I don't sponsor women, mostly for their own safety, because I'm human and I'm hard-wired into finding them attractive. And they still frighten me.

Mrs Tosh wouldn't let me either. :lol:

I know it's not black 'n' white though; I know a lesbian lady who describes her sponsor as someone who looks like Father Christmas; she says sex just isn't going to happen.

I sponsor a gay guy too; it must be tough for him having such a good looking (if somewhat deluded) sponsor.

My own sponsor says "A.A. isn't a dating agency!"

Re: "Sponsor Friends" ( +romance/friendship)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:17 pm
by Niagara
I had a male sponsor, BUT, he has been around a long time, and is very very strong. There was never any question of anything other than sponsor/sponsee developing. He's very good at keeping it to a business level.

It took me a while to trust him on that actually. I half had this expectation that he would expect something in return...never happened. Got me on my feet, kicked me out of the nest. Really good guy.

Still not a friend, but he gave me a great start, and if he needed me for anything at all, I'd do it no question. Not that he'd ask :lol:

I was encouraged by him to do the same with sponsees I get. Business level only, since alcoholism is brutal and there can be no question that we need to take responsibility for our own recovery.

Re: "Sponsor Friends" ( +romance/friendship)

Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:06 pm
by Lali
PaigeB wrote:It got complicated almost immediately the first time they had a fight over toilet paper.
Wow! A fight over T.P.? That's when you know a relationship has gone down the crapper.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. :|

Re: "Sponsor Friends" ( +romance/friendship)

Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:16 pm
by Lali
My BFF is an awesome sponsor. I would love to have her sponsor me but I think since we are already friends, the boundary thing would get all screwed up. I also think I might use our friendship to do things the way I want rather than what she may think I need. And her view of how to advise me in situations may be skewed as well. Just some thoughts. I think I will just consider myself lucky to have such an awesome friend in sobriety.

Re: "Sponsor Friends" ( +romance/friendship)

Posted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 11:27 am
by PaigeB
Lali wrote:
PaigeB wrote:It got complicated almost immediately the first time they had a fight over toilet paper.
Wow! A fight over T.P.? That's when you know a relationship has gone down the crapper.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. :|
Hahahahahahahaha :lol: :mrgreen:

Re: "Sponsor Friends" ( +romance/friendship)

Posted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:10 pm
by Larryp713
My first sponsor and I became more or less friends after I had worked the steps with him, and I realized after a while that I had stopped progressing and growing. I was growing restless, irritable, and discontent, and I no longer wanted his recovery. He is divorced and was actively pursuing companionship among females in our AA group, which wasn't sitting right with me, though I did not want to judge him. I heard a persistent voice in my head saying I needed to change, and asking a few of my AA mentors for their thoughts, I switched sponsors. My first sponsor and I are still friends, though we don't meet as often. There really is no difference in our relationship. But since working the steps again with my new sponsor, who is more business like about his approach to recovery, I noticed I started growing again.

I need to stay focused on the task at hand - my recovery, or I will not be useful to anyone for very long. I need a sponsor who keeps me directed. Best wishes to you, and thanks for the topic. Larry