It is only where “boy meets girl on A.A. campus,” and love follows at first sight, that difficulties may develop. The prospective partners need to be solid A.A.’s and long enough acquainted to know that their compatibility at spiritual, mental, and emotional levels is a fact and not wishful thinking. They need to be as sure as possible that no deep-lying emotional handicap in either will be likely to rise up under later pressures to cripple them.
AA has no “musts,” just suggestions, and I like that saying that “the suggestions are free, you only pay for the ones you don’t take.” I have moved around in AA, and everywhere I’ve lived, “no relationships for the first year” has been a suggestion. This doesn’t apply to people who come in already in a relationship (I want to say, “obviously,” but I guess I’ve learned better). And, not to show my attitude or anything, Big Book thumpers who say, “show me where it is in the book” may be directed here. If they do not want to follow the Twelve and Twelve, well, I don’t know what to say about that.
Now I’ve also known lots of couples who got together as newcomers and lots who have broken apart. I’ve written before about the fact that many of the long-term couples I’ve known in AA may be together long, but they still don’t have what I want, aside from that longevity. I think I’m a cynical menopausal oldtimer and it seems to me that the older the people are going in, the more chance they have to succeed. That’s probably not right either. And I’d add to the “long enough acquainted” stipulation that they should be long enough sober to know they won’t slip and slide. The first few years of sobriety are, in my opinion, tenuous, though I know of course that we are never, ever safe.
As for deep-lying emotional handicaps, well, I think we all have them, and the longer the live the more we will see them. I hope, though, that by living sober in the program we are more able to deal with them when they rise up. I think that sometimes, too, we develop them as we go along.
All that said, in my own story I fell in love before first sight, over the internet, with someone who had less than a year. I refused to meet her in person before she had a year, but I know that was splitting hairs, really. Things happen! She could probably tell it differently because in her case, I do think girl met girl on AA campus, but this time the other girl had twelve years.
Which brings me to the thirteenth step, which I’ve written about before. I still get comments full of pain about bad experiences with established AA members who take advantage of newcomers. That’s not what happened in my personal story, and that’s not what this section of the Twelfth Step is about. This section is about two newcomers getting involved with each other.
Regarding the thirteenth step:
- It is not child abuse, unless one of people is underage. In that case it is illegal and immoral.
- Newcomers have to use all the common sense they can muster. AA is not a “safe” place and really, it can be a very unsafe place. There is no certification process for any member having any length of time that says he or she is “safe” and will never harm anyone.
- “Girls with the girls” and “boys with the boys” is a good suggestion, although I think it ignores that fact that not everyone is attracted to people of the opposite gender. Regardless of gender, people with any amount of sobriety or none at all need to be careful about who they trust.