My partner has a drinking problem.
April 15, 2012 2:18 AM Subscribe
Should I stay or should I go? If not, what do we do?
posted by nvly to Human Relations (39 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
About us: SO and I have been together for 3 years, lived together for 1. We are in our mid-late 20s. We are both in the same (soul-crushing) industry but he probably hates it more than me.
Relationship: For most part it is truly a great relationship. We have fights here and there but in my mind he is a caring, sensitive person who treats me well. For instance, I've had a bad run at work and he has been extremely supportive. I would not be as competent at handling work stresses without him (not in a dependent way, just emphasising how much I value his support).
"Deal-breaker": He has had issues with his drinking. When I first met him he was going through a rough patch with a breakup from a long term partner and death in the family. He would habitually go out with friends and get completely obliterated, destructive and aggressive. I would put this on a Drinking Problem Scale - 8 out of 10, more because I imagine it could be alot worse, but in my mind this was unacceptable.
The drinking tempered off when we started hanging out and eventually going out many months later. It basically ceased to be an issue (he still drank, but not in a way I viewed to be problematic).
When his job began to take its toll (we work very long hours in a high stress environment), he started to repeat the same drinking behaviour. The jobs do encourage the work hard play hard culture, so there were many boozy functions where he would be encouraged to drink. However, there were at least 5 occasions in which he was so drunk he would lose all bearings and wake up the next day not knowing what he had done. Throughout these episodes there would be varying degrees of aggression to other people. DPS 7 out of 10.
After enough times of him being sorry the next day, I gave him an ultimatum to stop drinking (instead of the previous "cut back") and sort it out in therapy or I would leave. This is because I believe he is self-medicating because he hates his job and is deeply unfulfilled by it (his words not mine).
He stopped drinking altogether and went to therapy. After about 3 months of this working, he decided he had dealt with the issues he had. I agreed with this and he slowly started drinking again. DPS 1 out of 10 (pretty standard level of drinking, would get tipsy but thats about it). A while after that he stopped going to therapy as he felt better and it was getting expensive.
He has started to make plans to leave his job, which is great but has opened a whole new can of worms of "what to do once i leave". I feel that since December to now, we have had another 3 incidences of:
- We are at social function
- He starts drinking
- He starts "acting up" in that he behaves in a more outrageous, and attention-seeking way (including PDAing with me in front of other people, which I try to laugh off).
- I pull him aside to talk about how I think he is getting drunk. He says he is fine, but agrees to watch it.
- Within half an hour he is a completely different person. Last night he told an equally drunk (and known to be a bit of a bogan always up for a fight) acquaintance "not to mess with him because he would fuck him up" and proceeded to grab a bottle of spirits the other guy was holding and pour it onto the ground.
- I walk away because I don't want to make a scene.
- By this point he is a completely different person, I can't engage with him because he forgets what just happened, he denies being drunk.
- We have a fight either that night or the next morning.
- In the morning he is completely repentant.
Repeat ad nauseum. DPS at least a 7 but not to the same degree as when I first met him, although that may be because I didn't know about it to the same degree as I do now.
Question: I've booted him out of the house and spent the day with a good friend. He has agreed to give me space but was puppydog-ish everytime we spoke. What should I do? I feel that after typing this out I should just break it off. I am sick of being on edge at every party that he is going to get out of hand and that he might get into a fight. I don't think it is normal or healthy for people to act in this way. I am sick of him being sorry about it the next day only for it to happen again.
On the other hand, we have a great relationship otherwise, and I really love him. I am mindful that this question does not sound like I do, but please take my word for it that he is in every other way an amazing partner. I would rather not lose this relationship. If I do not break up with him, how can we go forward to deal with this issue?
Thanks, and apologies for the long question.