How do I cope with this?
I have been with my boyfriend for two years (we are 23 and 26). He is a very considerate, caring boyfriend, who often goes out of his way for me. However, he is a heavy social drinker. Him and his friends sole activity together is to go drinking, and at least once or twice a week he gets very very drunk. He is not the type of person to just have one or two drinks. He is never mean or violent when he gets drunk, but his drinking bothers me. Not just because I am worried about his safety, but because being around drunk men is painful for me. I don't want to go into too much detail, but it stirs up painful emotions of past events for me, that I am trying to deal with at the moment in individual therapy.
His drinking makes me extremely upset and anxious. It worries me and brings up painful emotions. He has let me know that he will not change, because that would mean sacrificing his friendships.
We have plans to move in together, but I fear that the problem will only get worse, because at least at the moment when he is drunk I do not have to share a bed with him, whereas that will change if we live together (or he will have to spend the night somewhere else every week).
I love him so much and he is such a wonderful man. He doesn't do anything wrong or purposely hurtful by drinking, so I am constantly going back and forth in my mind about whether I should be with him. He does many other things to help and support me. But this has gotten worse and worse and even just knowing he is drunk makes me sad an anxious and causes sleepless nights. I don't know what to do. Do I throw this away, this amazing connection I have with him? Or how can I cope with this issue?
I really appreciate any advice, thank you.
That's a tough one. Well I guess you have to speculate on what the future would be like with him. I noticed you already thought about moving in with him and have already taken into consideration what that's going to mean. But what if his drinking gets worse. What if instead of 2 days he starts to get drunk 4 days. Friends are really important to guys as expressed by the saying " Bros before Hoes". Not calling you a hoe its just a saying haha. Anyways, so a lot of guys live by that because they feel as if they're going to be with someone that someone should accept them for who they are. The aspect of having to change some part of yourself to please your significant other is hard for guys, especially if they are still young. You can be completely open with him and explain your previous experiences (whatever they may be) if you haven't already. If my girlfriend told me that I'm doing something that puts her in a uncomfortable situation, but it is also something that I have been doing with the guys for a long time; I would have to try to make a compromise where we are both happy. If you two can't come to terms then you have to sit down and lable the problem as a dealbreaker or not. Can you really live with this issue? The relationship is only 2 year old so its not exactly new but it hasn't gone through the major storms of life yet. When two people move in with each other it's a real eye opener because you begin to find out a lot of stuff you didn't know about the person both good and bad.So I would say try moving in and see how it works out. If its bothers you a lot then try to work out a compromise with him. If he is unwilling to compromise then take a back seat and examine the situation CAREFULLY. What is this going to mean for the future? What if his drinking gets worse? I don't know your boy friend but a really drunk person gets mad over the smallest things sometimes. So sure he isn't violent now but what if after you move in and he hates it when you don't do the disher or something (example) he's drunk and starts to scream or get violent. Drunk people are very unpredictable so you have to take into account all possible scenarios. I hope this helped.
Living with an alcoholic(which is a disease) will have life changing consequences for both of you. Temperaments have been known to change over time, being a non-violent and not mean drunk isn't any kind of prize. If your past has taught you anything about alcoholic, the disease will only get worse and worse. No matter what good qualities he may have the alcohol will always have control over him.
His disease will become your disease to deal with. As much as you love him, love yourself more by choosing what is best for your happiness, mental health and well being.
You say how do you cope? By not having to cope. I would be up front and honest with him, tell him the issues you have with drinking, drunks, alcoholics. Whatever painful emotions that still effect you will continue to affect you.
If he was a really nice, caring good to you "drug user" wouldn't that be a deal breaker for you? Alcohol is just a legal drug, but a drug none the less.
"I don't want to go into too much detail, but it stirs up painful emotions of past events for me, that I am trying to deal with at the moment in individual therapy."
"he will not change, because that would mean sacrificing his friendships"
Wasp stings you and causes anaphylactic shock and you 'nearly' die.
Wasp was Black with Yellow stripes. Very distinctive. Very characteristic. An identificatory visual which gets filed in your uppermost cabinet (recall memory) so THAT you can quickly identify the dangerous entity and skidaddle without delay.
You start dating then get enslaved by the heart, as you do, with a seeming house fly (Dusty-Black).
Fly gets hot and sweaty from your heat, takes off Dusty-Black jumper and - what's underneath? Black with Yellow stripes.
Is he a wasp or is he actually a bee? Or even one of those flies that look like smaller-sized bees? Is it just those stripes that are understandably uncomfortable to have to look at? There's the burning question. And the reason I ask is because:
1. Allegedly, NOT ONCE, even whenever his inhibitions are all fast asleep in bed, has he ever taken anything out on you or let you down, etc. Although... what does not *purposely* hurtful actually mean?
2. He apparently doesn't drink alone.
Have there ever been occasions where these heavy-drinker friends have been absent, e.g. on summer holiday? Did he drink the same amount/same frequency with other people (anyone he could find) or just you and he at home or by himself at home or in a pub/bar or 'other answer'?
3. What's his poison?
4. "He does many other things to help and support me."
5. WHAT has got worse and worse? His drinking? Or your feelings about this stripy individual as he looms increasingly closer yet holds your heart tighter and tighter in his hands with each passing day?
Thanks everyone for all your help, I really appreciate it. I'd like to reply to you individually.
Thanks for your help. I don't fear that his drinking will get worse or that he will become violent, I have every faith in him for this. You're right, we need to try and find a compromise. He has made some effort, and as a result of our relationship goes out less often. This is a combination of the simple fact that he is spending time with me now so can't be in the pub every night, and also that he has made some effort to change. The one thing that he has told me will not change is that once/twice a week where he goes out and gets very drunk. In some weeks this is more often than twice, but always at least once, with a couple of other nights lighter drinking. My worry is being able to find a compromise that can make us both happy. I don't want him to lose his friends, but I don't want to necessarily be with someone who makes me feel like this. It's about figuring out whether I can get over these feelings, and I have no idea how to do that.
Thank you for your help. I totally agree that these painful emotions that affect me now will continue to affect me. That is my biggest problem and fear for the future. However, I don't believe he is an alcoholic. I may have misrepresented his habits in my post - he doesn't drink every day and I know that he is fine without drinking. It's just that once or twice a week he drinks to excess. If for some reason he had to go a week without drinking I think he could do it, and would more just be annoyed about missing out on social activities. My past issue is not actually to do with alcoholics either, just a painful memory of something to do with someone being drunk. I totally get your point about a nice, caring drug user being a deal breaker. But he is honestly an extremely caring man, who goes out of his way regularly to try and make sure I am ok. I have been upfront with him, to the extent of asking him to change his drinking habits. He has agreed that he could try going out less frequently, but he has said that he will never change the fact that once or twice a week he goes out with his friends and gets drunk. He said that I need to learn to accept that about him, otherwise it means him having no one but me.
Thank you for your help. I really liked your wasp analogy, it summed up for the first time really accurately the reason that his drinking bothers me, how it reminds me of other things. I truly in my heart believe that he is not a 'wasp'; he doesn't have a bad bone in his body. He is extremely gentle and respectful with me. I'll answer your questions: 1. He has never ever physically hurt me, and he has never when drunk taken things out on me or been aggressive/rude to me. When I say not 'purposely' hurtful, I mean that his actions of simply getting drunk hurt me, although he is doing nothing to hurt me, he is just getting drunk, not always even in my company (it has bothered me both when he is with me and drunk and when he is not with me and drunk, but messaging me on the phone). 2. He definitely doesn't drink alone. I can think of a couple occasions on holiday just the two of us where he has drank heavily, and me not so much, but this hasn't happened in a while. He has never sought out other company or anything like that. I do believe he is happy not to drink and isn't addicted to it. 3. He mostly drinks beer. 4.He does many other things such as small things, like he will always go out of his way to pick me up, or send me little bits of money if he knows I can't afford a coffee/lunch. He sends me lovely thoughtful messages and says very kind things to me. And he has made it clear that he will do his best to help and support me whilst I go through therapy, and be there for me when I need him. And it is true, that apart from these nights out with his friends, he is there for me when I need him. 5. His drinking has not got worse and worse, but the situation has. It has been such a sore point between us, and is so loaded with tensions. Also, as I go through therapy and personal issues get brought up for me, I am much more sensitive to his drinking. I find it very hard now not to get really angry with him when he's drinking and this causes big arguments. I really appreciate any more advice you can offer now that I've answered those questions. Thank you so much
alcohol is a drug and is listed as high (on the addictive drug list) as heroine if not above : so there is every reason to believe that he will get addicted (if he's not already - some people have very good mind/body control and it doesn't show) because getting used to the doses and needing more and heavier doses progressively - alcohol also cause depression as with every high there's a low and the more one seeks to get a high the more the lows get intense - even if he's a social drinker - he still drinks and regularly : you nor him (but that's his business) should fool yourself to this stark reality
as for your feeling bad about all this - I would suggest you are maybe feeling bad because somewhere somehow you are not respecting yourself - I hear and understand all the reasons and explanations your brought up but the bottom line maybe has to do with you not being ok with the whole situation or rather you not being ok with YOU being in this situation - besides we don't know how much he's being nice in an attempt to make up - even though he maybe really is a nice guy
they say when there's one rotten apple in the basket - all the apples end up being spoiled : many good points can not make up for the one that's bad and often it is seen that the good ends up getting spoiled by the bad : so if the bad points are prevalent or are to become - you can be sure that at one point the good will not be enough no longer - they will get stained by the bad
whatever he decides to do with his life is one thing - you must look at why you stay in a situation you KNOW you don't like : you are setting yourself up for no longer respecting yourself - in the name of love : love has nothing to to with this - no love warrants to be trampled and the one who loves here is you : so you do not deserve to be treated any less then you deserve
think about you - he will (have to) think about him : when you're both getting clear about what you individually want from a relation - then you can "strike a deal"
Hi again ABACUS,
Glad you liked the analogy. I got the idea from the fact I was wearing a Black & Yellow stripy jumper at the time. (:-D Sorry, couldn't resist. In fact, I wouldn't be seen dead in something like that, LOL.)
Right, so in other words, his "lads nights out" drinking doesn't stop him from otherwise being a diamond, but it is making your mind feel it needs (a la, better safe now than sorry later) to slot him into its 'enemy' (or potential enemy) pigeonhole alongside whomever it was treated you horribly when they were drunk, despite it's incapable of KEEPING him there (due to too many positive signs keeping occurring to the contrary), meaning, bf's hovering around the middle-ground, 'iffy / can I trust him?' hole. Do I take from this, therefore, that whomever it was hurt you back then (or perhaps hurt you by hurting themselves, e.g. committed suicide?) had seemed perfectly benign and nice or well-balanced and safe to trust in the run-up to getting uncharacteristically(?) plastered and out of control on or around you?
I don't think you did misrepresent. I think these two pigeonholes in your mind are playing tug-of-war over him like Tweedledee and Tweedledum: "Unsafe category!...no - Safe category!...no - Unsafe!...no...", and so on, ad nauseum, and that at the point when you typed your opening post he'd been doing his usual round, nearer to the former, whereas yesterday he'd been moved back to hovering around the Safe door again. Back, forth, back, forth. You probably don't know WHERE you stand, half the time. What horrible limbo. ...Although, I have to say, even if he DIDN'T feature this habit of his, you do realise that that still is what bonding and building trust is and feels like, regardless?
I agree with TDOS that one dealbreaker can obliterate the rest of the dealmakers. But it is difficult when it's a subjective judgement call more than objective. Different if he were drinking 3 or 4 nights per week, right? And, of course, it's NOT good to binge-drink one or two times every week (because it *is* a form of poison), but it does depend on whether  standing back and looking dispassionately, you believe it's NOT sufficiently inside the realm of alcoholism, more just in the laddish "let rip" area, and, most important of all,  whether there's been any notable improvement between when you first met and this present juncture. Any at all, and, crucially, as a consistently upwards trajectory.
It sounds like there has, despite maybe not as rapidly as you'd have liked and felt safest with. To wit:
"He has agreed that he could try going out less frequently, but he has said that he will never change the fact that [mainly] once or [sometimes] twice a week he goes out with his friends and gets drunk." + " He has made some effort, and as a result of our relationship goes out less often. This is a combination of the simple fact that he is spending time with me now so can't be in the pub every night, and also that he has made some effort to change. The one thing that he has told me will not change is that once/twice a week where he goes out and gets very drunk"
I'm afraid that IS "a compromise", regardless that he's shown you where his changing limit is (or where he THINKS it is), i.e. cutting down by one or two steps followed by steady little shuffles further along - he's not going to actually transform his entire friends and social life (so, again, says he).
It's interesting, though, isn't it, that Mr supposedly Dig-His-Heels-In has actually lessened his nights out drinking over these past 2 years with you?...AND hasn't made up for those missing nights out by instead getting blotto at home on the sofa with you?
So it's not actually the booze, then, is it. Not really. It's more the friends and the culture, and the drink features as part and parcel. Pub culture. "Get that down ya, laddie - no son o' MINE drinks in halves!"
Do you know what? I don't think this IS about alcohol or addiction to it. Not even for him. I think it's his show of resistance, combined with an 'addiction' to his posse. A show to his friends (as in, Don't ditch me, lads, I may be 'hitched' but I'm still the same guy I ever was, not going to change THAT much - LOOK, I'LL PROVE IT - "glug-glug-glug") plus a symptom of the fact that he doesn't feel the relationship has progressed yet to a state where you and it trump-ingly replace his 'former' single social life and lad habits. Because you can't deny that he HAS toned it down, nor that it's commensurate with your both naturally having got closer and more involved as time's gone on. Yet possibly not as involved during these past 2 years as might, had you not naturally been however much mentally absent/distracted through having had to tend to yourself and your past in what sounds like quite a major way.
You see, really, ideally, one should have ones life down pat BEFORE they then to and promote themselves to being one half of a couple. It's like having accepted a job without actually having completed the mandatory training course as qualifies one for it. (Is that the same for him and his own past experiences/problems?) Because a romance does demand a lot of attention and concentration, particularly in those first few years. But you've had one eye and ear and however much of your mind and processing energy on a a series of past events as led to one big culmination... trying to make sense of it all (how and why it happened, who did what 'wrong', what you could have done differently or whether it'd have made zero difference, etc.) as well as how to get control of your many feelings surrounding it. So it WILL have slowed you both down, investment and commitment wise, which might not be in accordance with the rate he would have EXPECTED it to have gone at, had you come to the relationship with a pretty much already cleared deck.
Did he know about this big incident BEFORE he found himself incarcerated without a key (attached to point of no return)? If he did then perhaps he over-estimated how much of a 'dragging' effect it would have on you and accordingly the pair of you (reality being very different from imagination and all that)?
So I personally think this is less to do with his drinking and more to do with the fact that you're worried that once you move in with him, YOU'LL be too far in both practically and emotionally to be capable of reversing out again. Or reversing out without it 'killing' you. After all, it has to be said that you did KNOW, even from the start, that he had these heavy nights out, right? So one could ask why you didn't decide against at the 3rd/4th month mark or 8th/9th or even one year. Why only now?
So as I see it, you're necessarily 'addicted' to your past and he's 'addicted' to his.
I'll repeat that question because it's not only a reasonable one to ask but, I think, the nucleus: Why only now, when moving in together looms as your next quite close landmark?
Or - " at least at the moment when he is drunk I do not have to share a bed with him" - is it the 'having to stay trapped all night with him and his stinky beer breath, etc., in the joint bed' thing?
Or a bit of both?
Oh, yes, and I forgot to say: I'm betting his lad friends are doing all they can not to help, as well. Like I say - tug-o'-war. Single or just very immature and not close to their girlfriends, are they?
Oop - one more thing... If you don't mind my asking, why are you here if you're already having counselling over this and the other? Is it seeming to go too much at a snail's pace or something? Or are you feeling under some sort of pressure?