FEMALE – MALE RELATIONSHIPS IN THE PROGRAM – Relationships between the sexes

The comments below were given by various members of the Conference Steps, Traditions, and Concepts Committee and do not represent a group conscience of the entire committee. The opinions expressed here are solely that of the person giving them. Take what you like and leave the rest.

The Question:
I am confused as an S.L.A.A. female relating to S.L.A.A. males. I was instructed by my sponsor to stick with the females and that seemed appropriate for the first few months, but after 16 months it actually feels imbalanced. I trust myself and I am willing to trust being in a relationship with my fellow male S.L.A.A. members. Are there S.L.A.A. Traditions that spell out how we can be in the best relationship with our fellow members based on gender differences? Is there a specific cut-off point? Is hugging inappropriate?


I agree that early into recovery it is very appropriate to avoid one’s trigger whether it is people, places or things. As one becomes more sober then one can decide if it is a bottom-line behavior to avoid contact with a certain segment of the population. That defines sobriety for me. Nor is dealing with those of the opposite sex the real world that one has to just accept and therefore we have no control over it. It needs to be left to our Higher Power.

In the chapter about relationships in the Basic Text, they talk about cleaning up one’s house in order that we can invite others into our house. So for most of us in the program we hope to be able to share in healthy relationships. But it also says that there is something nice about a clean house that doesn’t require us to share it with others. We define this as healthy solitude rather than unhealthy loneliness.

The Preamble talks about ignoring outside issues such as gender, sexual orientation, etc. So I believe it is very appropriate at some time to develop relationships with all people both inside and outside the rooms. We need to be aware of Thirteenth Stepping however. The 12 Traditions are how we relate to others and that includes both genders.

Specifically considering hugging, in home group, we ask before we hug. I have refused to hug when it made me uncomfortable but I try to make it clear to the other person that it’s about me, not the other person. I am just not ready to hug at this moment.

If either of the two is in early recovery, there is a real danger there. And romantic relationships need to be avoided. But as recovery gets more solid, it may be time to start looking at others in the program as potential healthy partners…taking into account all the factors mentioned.  I know of several couples who are both in the program and their success seems to be pretty solid.
From my experience most women wish to be around other women in the meetings. It is with them that they seem to relate and with them they can receive the most possible support. After some time has passed I usually see the women and men relating to one another in a healthy platonic manner as well as working together on committees or various local projects. That is good healthy recovery.

Unfortunately, I have witnessed a number of times when a male member will begin to pay too much attention to a woman newcomer so as to make her noticeably uncomfortable.

We are bound by Tradition 1 in seeking S.L.A.A. unity, Tradition 3 that the only requirement for membership is the desire to stop living out a pattern of sex and love addiction and Tradition 5 that our primary purpose is to carry the message to the still suffering addict.

A sponsor is wise to suggest that a newcomer of either sex refrain from trying to establish a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. With time, sobriety and growth, it is possible for women and men to have healthy relationships within S.L.A.A.


What do you think?
The CSTCC is a group of volunteers, some of whom were ABM delegates, and others who volunteered out of interest. We do not represent a group conscience of S.L.A.A., but are committed to bringing thoughtful discussion and study of 12 Step Fellowship literature and experience to the questions that are brought to us. We offer this summary as the results of our discussions. We present the major points of concern in the hopes that wider discussion in the Fellowship will help us evolve our customs and practice of the S.L.A.A. program of recovery to better represent the loving guidance of a Higher Power. Always, we affirm the autonomy of each group and the need for each individual to follow her/his own conscience. No decision of this group, or any other, is ever forced upon another, even when we believe a practice is clearly in conflict with the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts.