I’m not Getting Along with my Sponsor - Should I Switch?

No relationship is free from conflict, and you should not expect you and your sponsor to get along perfectly free from differences in opinion. However, sometimes a relationship between sponsor and sponsee devolves to a point where continuing on is doing neither party much good. You end up stalled on your stepwork, reluctant to communicate with your sponsor and regressing in recovery rather than progressing. Here you are at a crossroads - do you try to repair your relationship with your current sponsor or begin stepwork over again with a new one?

The ideal situation here is that you and your sponsor repair your relationship and continue your vigorous stepwork together, but this is not always possible depending on the situation. If your sponsor has revealed they maintain a belief which does not reconcile with your morals and values, it may not be possible to reconcile depending on your respective strengths of conviction. You should not sacrifice your own morals and ethics for the sake of restoring a good relationship with your sponsor, and if this is the only means to resolve the situation than it would be best you part as friends and you start anew in your stepwork with a different sponsor.

On the other hand, it is important you do some soul searching and make sure your continued conflict with your sponsor is not a result of your looking to avoid stepwork. This is a common situation for those in early recovery seen playing out time and time again - a newcomer works the first three steps, gets to the fourth step, loses interest in putting for the necessary effort and self-examination, and contrives a reason to cease working with their current sponsor and instead looks to restart the steps with a new one. This has occurred so frequently it has become known as the “1, 2, 3 shuffle” in the rooms of AA and NA. In light of this reality, if you find yourself staring down the barrel of your fourth step and you are suddenly having issues in your relationship with your sponsor, you need to take a good hard look at whether these are valid concerns or just your attempt to avoid progressing through your steps.

Any relationship between two people is bound to experience friction and discord at some point, and the relationship between you and your sponsor is no exception. What matters is how you deal with these conflicts, as your recovery should be your first priority rather than your desire to defend your ego or come out the “victor” in any disagreements. So long as you put your sobriety above any petty squabbles which may occur between yourself and your sponsor, your progress in recovery is guaranteed and you will grow and mature as a result of your practicing willingness and humility!