Boyfriend is a problem drinker - but not necessarily an alcoholic. What can I do to help him? And how do I protect myself here?
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Human Relations (43 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My boyfriend and I are in a loving, committed relationship. We rarely fight and our relationship is pleasant and drama-free. He's a really good guy. Until he starts drinking.
There have been several instances in which he has gone totally overboard in terms of speed and quantity. It doesn't happen every time there's alcohol around, and he doesn't drink daily. But if there is some sort of celebration, or birthday, or sporting event, or some occasion where there's unlimited alcohol, he WILL be bombed. He won't get tipsy, or just nicely buzzed. Or even "normal" drunk. He will be obliterated and totally unmanageable.
Recently, we went to dinner and a dive bar to celebrate my friend's birthday. He drank several glasses of wine at dinner, and had about five 32 oz beers at the bar afterward. In the past, he's asked me to let him know when he's had too much to drink. So when I spotted him with a SIXTH beer, I said with a smile "Nuh uhhh, I think you are done, sir!" and calmly took the beer from him. At this point he was slurring and stumbling. Of course, this was not well received. He threw a tantrum, accused me of trying to ruin his good time, and demanded that we leave the party immediately, because he was now forbidden from drinking. When I explained that I'd still like to stay because I was enjoying my friends, he stormed out. He eventually returned, and we left the party because he was starting to embarrass me. I was a bit drunk myself, but what happened afterward was quite sobering.
During our cab ride back to his place, he tried repeatedly to pick another fight. I told him I didn't feel like fighting, I just wanted to go home and sleep and we'd talk in the morning. He responded to this by telling me to get out of the cab and not go home with him. I told him that I was done with his behavior, couldn't do this anymore, and promptly left.
There is no talking to him when he is in this state. He is nonsensical, illogical, irrational, and mean. He is pushy, instigating, and obnoxious. He teeters between desperate melodrama ("WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME? WHAT DID I DO WRONG?") and extreme hatefulness ("F-YOU, BITCH. GO DATE SOMEONE ELSE.") It is disturbing and hurtful, even though I know he doesn't mean what he says. And the next day? He doesn't remember a thing. He is extremely apologetic, weepy, embarrassed, confused -- and begs me and pleads with me not to break up with him. Agrees that things got way out of hand. Promises it won't happen again. He'll be on his best behavior for awhile, and of course, the next time there's a birthday or an open bar, he loses control again.
This time, however, I told him that if he didn't seek counseling and seriously work on this, I could no longer be in this relationship. He agreed that this wasn't fair to me, that he should talk to someone about this, and that he had a problem with drinking. He said he didn't know why he lacked an off switch, and it was starting to worry him. I referred him to some counseling resources, which he has yet to use.
I want to make it clear that this isn't a moral issue. I enjoy going out and drinking with friends too, and I have no problem with being drunk myself. I just know when I've had enough, which he doesn't seem to be able to see. There is also a history of addiction in his family, and I worry that he's headed in that direction.
Is there anything else I can do to help him? And how can I make it clear now that I won't tolerate this behavior anymore, after a looong time of putting up with it and ultimately forgiving him? I feel stepped on and weak, and sometimes downright stupid for allowing it to happen time and time again with no real repercussions for him. I realize this hasn't helped him, and it's been to my detriment as well. How can I put my foot down now?