We need to talk
October 31, 2011 6:24 AM   Subscribe

I've recently become involved with someone, and I am starting to care for him very much. He is intelligent, funny, considerate, thoughtful, and very fun to be around. However, He seems to have a serious drinking problem.

I've spent a good deal of time with him since summer, initially as friends, but the relationship moved into the romantic zone relatively quickly. From the beginning, I could tell he drank a lot, but he owns a bar, and being in a bar, one tends to drink.
I've been spending a lot more time with him over the past few weeks, with only a handful of nights that he and I weren't together. Every one of those nights involved alcohol, many to the point that he was very,very intoxicated. On the nights that he and I weren't together, I heard after the fact that he was at his bar late, or he "had a night". A few nights I heard no details about at all, and he has mentioned in the past just about how he was asleep by 9:30 or so it's likely that no drinking occured on those nights.
This past week was kind of a blowout. I was with him Thursday Friday and Saturday night. The first two nights I had to walk him home and put him to bed, with him falling down once or twice, and having no memory of it (he also has a day job, and gets up and functions perfectly well very early the next day) Saturday was a big halloween dance party that went into the early morning hours...I left at 6 am with another friend of ours, but he wanted to stay and he stayed a few more hours, which I'm pretty sure meant him drinking more.
I know he has a drinking problem. I'm not entirely convinced that he's an alcoholic, or that he can't rein in his drinking once he realizes it's a problem*, my issue is how do I talk to him about this? I am not the most diplomatic person, and I don't want to come off as being accusatory, or make him defensive, I just want him to start thinking about his own drinking (if he hasn't already) and what it's doing to him, and also our potential relationship. I am not willing to become more involved with him if he can't get his drinking under control.

About my drinking: I drink socially, much more so since becoming involved with him, but not drinking is not an issue for me. I will take nights off from it when I feel like I've been going out too much, and I easily go days/weeks without having anything to drink. I normally don't like to get too drunk, but do have the occasional "big night".
BTW, we are both around 40, so this is not a college party behavior type of thing.

*I don't believe that drinking is an all or nothing type of thing, even after it's come to the point of alcoholism. My best friend who for years was a several night a week binge drinker who was/is most definitely an alcoholic stopped excessive drinking over ten years ago and now knows to limit himself to two drinks at most on the few nights a week he goes out, with the once or twice a year binge. He's been able to maintain this for a decade, and while i know that this is not a way that works for some/most, I do think it can work for some. The man in question is, based on what I've seen him do in some difficult situations, someone who potentially can have control over his drinking in this way.
TL;DR: Current romantic partner has a drinking problem, how do I communicate to him in a gentle and sensitive way that I am concerned that it is not under his control, and that for his sake and for the sake of the relationship it needs to be addressed?
posted by itmightbecheese to Human Relations (35 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If someone is drinking that much at 40, they aren't going to stop just because you asked them to. He's going to need to face some serious negative consequences first.
posted by empath at 6:27 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't believe that drinking is an all or nothing type of thing, even after it's come to the point of alcoholism

This is true for some alcoholics. For others, it is not. The "just control yourself" model of recovery is not helpful for most people.

But this social construct is not your problem.

The identified problem here is that you are worried about the effects of his drinking. Long term: his health, his friendships, his business. Short term: car accidents, etc.

I say this all the time in threads about drinking problems, but it bears repeating:

He does not have a problem until he decides he has a problem. Finding a solution to a problem he doesn't have is nigh on impossible. You can address your problem in a number of ways, and this includes telling him you have a problem with his drinking, but not telling him he needs to do anything about your problem. Instead, tell him what you are going to do about your problem. You will only see him x nights per week, you will only see him for events that do not involve drinking, you will only see him for x hours per visit, you will no longer be the person he calls to bail him out (or tuck him into bed) he was getting bailed out or tucked in before you showed up on the scene, he can figure it out.

The second thing I think you should do is visit an al-anon meeting. These are often very near to AA meetings, so be careful that you don't sit through the first 20 minutes of an AA meeting unless you want to blubber that you're in the wrong place when the circle sharing gets around to you. Learn from my experience.
posted by bilabial at 6:36 AM on October 31, 2011 [24 favorites]

It sounds like your friend is an alcoholic. His lifestyle is a timebomb. There is no gentle way to get through to him. It will take an intervention. And, if he does decide to get sober, it will involve getting rid of the bar, just for starters.
posted by Straw Cab at 6:38 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

To answer your written question of how do you discuss this...well, that's pretty easy. Have the conversation based on what happened: "Two nights I had to walk you home and put you to bed, with you falling down once or twice, and having no memory of it. This is not something I will continue doing." (unless I'm reading you wrong and you're okay with doing this). And then you gauge his reaction and go from there.

But I think you know there's a much bigger, unasked question here. And the answer to that is yes, of course he has a problem no matter how you label it and what you need to consider is if this is a relationship you want to continue as is, otherwise you're just asking for a world of headaches and heartaches.

So my real answer is I'd talk to him and tell him that it's not working out. Mention the drinking or not, and then I'd move on and thank myself for being strong and doing the right thing for myself.
posted by kinetic at 6:39 AM on October 31, 2011 [6 favorites]

how do I communicate to him in a gentle and sensitive way that I am concerned that it is not under his control, and that for his sake and for the sake of the relationship it needs to be addressed?

You probably can't. If he's a 40-year-old alcoholic, he's heard it all before. Ask his previous partners. For you to change him, you'd have to be more compelling than alcohol, and there aren't many women like that.

But he could be a fun guy to have around until the holidays are over, so don't do or say anything drastic about the drinking until January. Then go hunting for someone who isn't addicted to large doses of destructive substances.
posted by pracowity at 6:46 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Just because he was in bed by 9:30 those other nights doesn't mean he wasn't drinking. It may mean that he just started earlier than usual on those days.

At this stage in the relationship, talking to him about it will result only in him cutting dow in drinking when you're around (sometimes) and then making a greater effort to cover up how much drinking he does at other times. hHe'll do this so halfheartedly or resentfully or inadequately that you'l still be able to tell most of the time, and you'l begin to feel suspicious and he'l begin to feel unjustly mistrusted or nannied, and that's when the real fun starts.

Just kidding, it is no fun and really not worth it. It's sad, but you are very lucky he was so transparent about this at the start, it may have saved you years of bargaining, pleading, and doubt.
posted by hermitosis at 6:51 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Your not going to convince him to stop or cut down drinking with only recently knowing him and then dating him. I would say this is one of those times to take an objective look at the relationship:

1) He was a drinker before you met
2) He owns a bar - therefore booze is a huge part of his life
3) He was a drinker when you met, has continued to drink since meeting you
4) You bond with him over drinks ("socially")
4) You want him to stop or cut down only having known each other for less then 6 months

See the problem? Almost everything in your post points to booze being a common bonding tool, or source of interest. Some people have photography or pets, you have booze. With an addiction (if it is), you come second to the booze. Now why wouldn't it be an addiction? Well some careers are reliant on being able to party, and I know plenty of bar owners who do this. I personally feel they should take smart coke dealers stance and don't use their own products, but that's just my opinion. They are known in the bar, treat their regulars well, and party it up making it fun.

Your not going to stop him until he wants to stop, take a serious look at where you stand. Say something if it's going to clear your heart, but I would be prepared to be dumped or to do the dumping. Most people react defensively when presented with an addiction concern, so just be forewarned. Your hearts in the right place, I'll give you that, but I think you overestimate where you stand with an addiction.
posted by lpcxa0 at 6:52 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

hes 40+ and still drinks like a frat boy? In the bar he owns? Wow... Well, if you choose to pursue the relationship, just be aware his kidney.. or liver? I forget... is gonna crap out when hes 50. If the drunk driving dosen't kill him and or you first. I suppose it is theoretically possible he Just Needs Things Pointed Out... but he's functioning. He gets girls. Why should he change?
posted by Jacen at 6:56 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

A very close friend of mine was experiencing something really similar with a new boyfriend, and she tried to talk to him about it by saying, "hey I really care about you, so the fact that alcohol seems to be such a major part of your life is kind of scary because I'm concerned for your health". He BLEW UP with defensiveness, and ended up saying a ton of hurtful things that he had never even come close to before. That is exactly what you need to look out for when you talk to him about it.
posted by so_gracefully at 7:39 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

"The first two nights I had to walk him home and put him to bed, with him falling down once or twice, and having no memory of it."

Really, forty?

If you like getting falling down drunk and not remembering things and you dig this kind of lifestyle this is the guy for you. I'm all about harm reduction, so if you want to lifetime drink to a stupor regularly I have no problem with it so long as you never drive while drinking (people's judgement about this always sucks more than they think, just don't drive after drinking if you're having more than one or two drinks) and your drunk behavior doesn't result in behavior that harms others. (Again, this will probably be a matter of degree since some people find public vomiting or drunken howling into the night obnoxious and harmful, but if the worst you do is pee in bushes you probably shoudn't, make an ass of yourself and pass out, then so be it.)

So, are you into that? He's not going to change, period. If he ever does it will be because he wants to and it will have nothing to do with you. Do you like him as he is?

If so, just go with it and enjoy the drunken stupors. If you get sick of it, leave. But know that if you already suspect you don't want to deal with this in the long term, why drag both you and he's feelings into emotional involvement that will definately end with you leaving him?

Damage control: be kind to yourself and him and leave now. Send him all your love, know he's a great person and fun and super and some lucky woman who can deal with regular drunken stupors and stay happy with it will be really lucky to have him. He's not for you.

You say you just got involved, so .... get uninvolved quickly. Don't play the game where you ask him to change and he says he's going to change but it'll take time and you deal with shit you don't want to deal with and wait around for him to change while he doesn't. Just make this a clean break, or enjoy the rollercoaster.
posted by xarnop at 7:42 AM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]

You can talk to him but I seriously doubt he's going to change. I spent 2 years with someone who I felt drank too much and had many many (one-sided) conversations about it. The fact is, at 40 he is very unlikely to change unless he decides he wants to. And the fact that he owns a bar means that he would have to want to change his whole lifestyle. Do you think that's the case? If not, decide how much longer you want to spend walking him home and tucking him into bed, and dealing with the effect(s) that alcohol can also have on your sex-life and closeness in general. It's your choice to make.
posted by bquarters at 7:42 AM on October 31, 2011

A friend of mine just ended a decade-long marriage because her husband wouldn't stop drinking. He's the same age as your potential beau. Even his little girl, supposedly the light of his life, hasn't been enough motivation. And he doesn't even work in a bar.

You can't enter into relationships expected people to change. This goes for anything. Addictions triply so.
posted by schroedinger at 7:54 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh God - this is pretty terrible, and you should put on the brakes. Fast.

I mean really. Your first action - today if you can, this week definitely - should be to get thee to an Al-Anon meeting. Al-Anon is not AA - it's specifically for people who care about other people who drink, and the kind of messed-up thinking that situation can cause, and you will find a lot of people like yourself who have very practical ways of dealing with this kind of situation. It will help restore your perspective. Also check out the AskMe Threads About Dealing with Someone Else's Drinking in the MefiWiki ThereIsHelp section.

This isn't going anywhere good. His drinking is definitely out of his control right now, and you should not get any more involved in his life if you treasure your sanity and sense of balance. You are, in fact, enabling him to indulge by drinking along with him, taking care of him when he endures the consequences of getting drunk, and communicating that it's possible to have a meaningful and good romantic relationship with someone who is acting like a full-blown alcoholic. It's actually not so possible. You can love him, but you can't really have a relationship with him - the primary relationship will always be with alcohol.

Do I sound extreme? I have a reason to. You are poised at the moment where this can become a more regular, constant, and pain-delivering part of your life forever, or you can step aside and get some distance from this. His miserable life does not have to become your miserable life. You don't have to sacrifice your time, goodwill, love, and actual future to him. It's not necessary. There are other people, healthier people, to love, and your loneliness or need to be with someone or even his incredible good qualities that may show through in his non-soused moments are not sufficient justification for taking on the burden that his life is, and will increasingly become. This isn't normal behavior or a mild "drinking problem." It walks like the duck that is full-blown alcoholism, and it doesn't sound as if he's anywhere near realizing it for what it is, let alone interested in changing. Waiting for someone to see the light and change is a total fool's game. He'll change on his own terms, in his own time, or never, and you have zero power over that.

If you value yourself and your happiness in the rest of your life, you won't step into this situation. That you somehow want to is really, really important for you to look at. Why would you take on this set of someone else's problems? What would you get out of it?

Book recommendation, too.
posted by Miko at 7:57 AM on October 31, 2011 [10 favorites]

Alcoholics can be really charming and sexy and fun. Like everyone else said, you have a vanishingly small chance of getting him to stop right now. If you want to keep dating him, then do, but don't get too sucked in. Above all, watch your own drinking. Just because you have never developed a problem before does not mean you can't now, and this is a really good setup for doing so, unlikely as it may seem right at the moment.
posted by BibiRose at 7:58 AM on October 31, 2011

You can't enter into relationships expected people to change. This goes for anything. Addictions triply so.

QFT. People are going to go on doing what they're doing. Sometimes people change over major life transitions, but someone who's 40 and owns a bar is in a period of stability, not transition.
posted by endless_forms at 7:59 AM on October 31, 2011

he owns a bar, and being in a bar, one tends to drink.

I'm not sure if these are his words or yours but as someone who had an alcoholic parent this sort of "well the reason is because..." reasons just became part of the whole dysfunction.

The big deal and the big difference between having a problem with alchohol and not (whatever you call it) is that it becomes the "organizing" factor in your life. More than your job, more than your family, more than whatever else you claim to care about. So, for a lot of people, and smart alcoholics are interesting this way, you just decide that it's not causing problems in your life because you organize your own life such that it is this way. You have an enabling job, an enabling partner and you tell people to fuck off and mind their own business because you're not lying in your own puke in the gutter.

So, you are the new love interest and you maybe don't want to get into a relationship with someone who drinks so much you have to put him to bed [and you shouldn't, that shit is TIRED]. Have a conversation with him about it and prepare to be badly disappointed. Just say you'd like to have some nights with him that are either low alcohol and/or alcohol free and then see what he says. More importantly, see what he does. It's possible, though extrememly unlikely, that he might try to cut down. It's possible, though unlikely, that he is tired of his OWN drinking and could use an excuse to cut down. However, if you become the impetus for that,you also become the person to blame when it doesn't go right or when it's hard or when he slips and you're unhappy and whatever it was your choice in the first place.

Feel free to MeMail me if you'd like some horror stories about living with and taking care of an elderly alcoholic; they're not appropriate in this thread but they might be part of the decision process in figuring out how to approach this problem. I am sorry you are going through this.
posted by jessamyn at 8:00 AM on October 31, 2011 [12 favorites]

The man in question is, based on what I've seen him do in some difficult situations, someone who potentially can have control over his drinking in this way.

You're fantasizing here. You want to fix his drinking for him, and you're imagining ways that it might work, if ONLY you could COMMUNICATE to him! There are two problematic beliefs here: one, that you can change him by talking; and two, that his behavior will change in exactly the kind of way you're anticipating. Neither of these things is true.

Your words can't change him; and even if he does try to quit drinking, you have no way to predict how it will go. He could quit cold turkey, no problem. He could start seriously in AA and realize that he needs to focus on sobriety and break up with you. He could embark on years of sobriety interspersed with harrowing relapses. He could cut way down and then get secretly drunk until one day he dies in a DUI. Etc. etc.

I'm sorry, babe, but this would be a dealbreaker for me. Been there, done that.
posted by yarly at 8:12 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

For you to change him, you'd have to be more compelling than alcohol, and there aren't many women like that.

there aren't many women like that - not for someone whose central commitment is to drinking.

Alcoholics can be really charming and sexy and fun.

This is so very true, and it can indeed be confusing. I understand completely and personally how this seems at odds with the idea that he could be an alcoholic. How could someone who seems so joyful and together have a problem like alcoholism?

But one is not evidence against the other. The two things work together often. It's not that he may not have fine qualities, but they will remain in service to and coordinated with drinking as long as he continues to drink like this. Don't let them confuse you. There are a lot of people who have absolutely wonderful talents, senses of humor, natural gifts, skills, charming vulnerabilities, marvelous physical appearances and other alluring qualities, but that doesn't mean their drinking isn't also incredibly destructive to them and those closest to them. Those qualities aren't evidence that things are really just fine. In fact, I think they may coexist with overdrinking more often than not. One thing about alcoholism is it's amazingly democratic - it strikes the brilliant and talented as often as anyone else, and the brilliance and talents kind of just end up serving the drinking.

I wasted four years with an alcoholic who was kind of like this, and I just wish I'd had a chance to hear this from somebody before I went down that road. Total waste of good years of my life. He hasn't changed at all - not dead yet, but otherwise, unchanged, as you might reasonably expect, and a few more relatively unwitting and well-meaing girlfriends worn through by now.
posted by Miko at 8:19 AM on October 31, 2011 [7 favorites]

I feel for you. I've been where you are. And I will say this: If you feel you can get out now, without it being too difficult for you emotionally, you should do it. Just walk away. Alcoholics tend to be sweet, lovely people, but they are also drunks, and a lot of them never stop drinking despite very serious consequences. Right now, this guy doesn't seem to suffer consequences that he sees as a concern. I promise you, he's heard before that he has a drinking problem. He probably knows it himself. But there is no way to predict at what point - if ever - he'll decide to change his behavior. Unless you're okay with being in a long-term relationship with someone who acts just like he does right now, get out.
posted by something something at 9:04 AM on October 31, 2011

I'd cut your losses and walk away now. You can have the conversation - I wouldn't worry too much about being tactful though. I don't think he's going to change - everything about how he's structured his life plays into and around his drinking. Protect yourself and move on before it hurts more than it already does.
posted by leslies at 9:06 AM on October 31, 2011

It would seem that this guy is not only an alcoholic, but an extremely professional one. Professional alcoholics never miss a minute of work, or step out of line, or disagree with anybody, because that could jeopardize their money and their access to alcohol. The fact that he has removed that possibility from the equation by owning his own bar just means that his devotion to alcohol is pretty much complete.

I have to agree that the high road here for you would be to tell him you had a swell time and he's a great guy, but get yourself out of there, now. He just wants a drinking buddy-nursemaid with benefits.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 9:20 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

but he owns a bar, and being in a bar, one tends to drink

I own a bar and I know a lot of other bar owners. It's not an excuse to drink. Is he getting drunk in his own bar, in front of customers? If the answer is yes, then he is almost certainly an alcoholic. You don't want to go down this path. It gets much worse.
posted by Ariadne at 10:18 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

FWIW this statement is not factually accurate: "he owns a bar, and being in a bar, one tends to drink." A bar is a business and most people don't run their business tanked. While I think you know that, let me just be explicit that this is also true for people who own, run and serve in bars.

Those of us who have been through alcoholism, addiction and other kinds of dependencies see the pattern over and over and over and know the drill so there's a tendency to go from "My boyfriend drinks X units a week" to "You need to stage an intervention." I would guess you're very likely to dismiss that idea because at this early juncture, you're just asking how to even bring this up with the guy, so that kind of hardboiled advice probably seems like a nuclear option to you right now.

My approach would be different. Don't make this about him at all. Work with this: "The first two nights I had to walk him home and put him to bed, with him falling down once or twice, and having no memory of it." Tell him that you are not cool with nights like that, that you need to not have repeats of that night, and that you'd like him to make sure that doesn't happen when he's with you. Then watch. Wait. See what happens.

Also, I don't want to make presumptions about how this relationship is run, but honey, you cannot run a relationship in a bar. This is not Cheers. Are you doing anything other than going to this joint to see him every night? Are you.... having dinner? Lunch? Movies? Daytime walks? (And is he drinking during these dates? )
posted by DarlingBri at 10:21 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm not entirely convinced that he's an alcoholic

Yeah, it's irrelevant if he's actually an alcoholic: you have a problem with his drinking patterns and behaviors, and you're the only one who can do anything about that problem, because it's yours. Unless and until he has a problem with his drinking, he isn't going to change.

Read what bilabial said, and then read it again. You can tell him how his behavior makes you feel, and you can figure out what changes to make so you don't feel that way anymore. But you can't change him.
posted by rtha at 10:23 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can't change people; you mostly have to like them how you found them.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 10:53 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Huh, I think I dated this guy (well, he'd be about 47 by now) ... Anyway, just walk away if you're not prepared to babysit him. There is nothing you can say - at six months there's no way you're more important to him than alcohol. I'm so sorry. It was heartbreaking for me to watch this guy throw his life away. I told him I loved him, I didn't want anything to happen to him, etc etc. He smiled and said he understood and then just started hiding his bottles under the sink.

Be aware that people with drinking problems lie. A LOT. Do not have unprotected sex with him. I found out my guy was cheating and had lied about having been tested for STDs. It's only by the grace of God that I didn't catch anything.

And yeah, he was charming and sexy and fun, and that's the reason I stayed as long as I did (he was addictive for me, in a way), but he didn't change one iota when we were together.
posted by desjardins at 11:22 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

TL;DR: Current romantic partner has a drinking problem, how do I communicate to him in a gentle and sensitive way that I am concerned that it is not under his control, and that for his sake and for the sake of the relationship it needs to be addressed?

You don't. You walk away.

I've seen marriages destroyed by alcoholism from the inside (my mom & my first stepdad). The only thing that gave him any impetus to change whatsoever was the divorce. And guess what - he's still an alcoholic, and not the "recovered" kind. It didn't stop his drinking. That's not to say he didn't try - he absolutely tried - but it just didn't work out.

There's something to be said for sticking with a partner with an addiction. There's absolutely no reason to seek a partner with an addiction. Stay friends if you want, but absolutely do not get further entangled at this point.
posted by sonika at 11:48 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow. Pretty much everyone is agreement. I suppose I was thinking I would talk to him and then see what happens (my main reason for giving him an opportunity to step up is because early on when we were making the transition from from friends to couple, he was in a somewhat toxic non-romantic relationship with a person, and I told him that I was not prepared to be with him while that situation still existed, he ended that relationship-I understand that an addiction is a completely different ball of wax altogether, but wishful thinking I suppose), and if things remained unchanged, even in the short term, I would move on. Looks like even doing this might be a waste of time.
A few clarifying points:
I've been acquainted with him for several years, but didn't really become friends with him until spring of this year. I had never heard from mutual friends of his drinking problem. It seemed like when we first started hanging out a lot this summer that he wasn't drinking as much, so part of me thinks that this level of drinking may be a new development.

We live in NYC, so the drunk driving thing doesn't apply on a regular basis, and when we have driven somewhere, like to the beach or upstate, he makes it a point to stay sober.

I also own a bar, right around the corner from his, so I know that owning a bar is not an excuse to drink. I'm not using that to justify his behavior, I guess I was just trying to indicate that by default he was around alcohol quite a bit.

Yes, we do other things besides hang out at his bar. We try not to go to his bar very often, or mine for that matter. For the both of us, it often becomes work rather than a night off when we're in our bars, although yes, he does get stinking drunk in his own bar in front of his customers regularly.

I've had friends that were/still are alcoholics, and I've always said that I would never want to be seriously involved with someone who was alcoholic because from the outside it looks like an incredibly difficult/painful relationship to be in. I really don't know how I fell into this, but reading all the responses has certainly opened my eyes to my situation being more serious than I was thinking.

Now my issue becomes getting over him (it's been brief but pretty intense, and the fact that he lives in the building next to my bar, which is around the corner from where I live, that we have not only mutual friends, but mutual staff, and run into each other on the street when we're not even trying to, makes the entanglement severe). I like him and respect him a lot as a person, and it makes me sad to think that the drinking will likely bring him down, but it's pretty obvious what needs to happen.

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful and well meaning responses.
posted by itmightbecheese at 12:16 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

All were great responses. I "best answered" the ones that had a line or paragraph that particularly resounded with me. Thank you all.
posted by itmightbecheese at 12:39 PM on October 31, 2011

itmightbecheese: "I also own a bar, right around the corner from his"

That's an interesting piece of information to withhold for so long.

I know you've parsed the crowd wisdom about this guy, which is good, but I think there's a lot of yourself you should be exploring. You own a bar, found yourself sucked into a relationship where your non-work "leisure" hours involved alcohol, and struggle to find a way to "save" this guy. That's the ideal enabler situation for an alcoholic.

This may be a one-off mistake. Or it might be part of something bigger. I think the Al-Anon recommendations are really spot-on.
posted by mkultra at 12:53 PM on October 31, 2011

Now my issue becomes getting over him (it's been brief but pretty intense, and the fact that he lives in the building next to my bar, which is around the corner from where I live, that we have not only mutual friends, but mutual staff, and run into each other on the street when we're not even trying to, makes the entanglement severe). I like him and respect him a lot as a person, and it makes me sad to think that the drinking will likely bring him down, but it's pretty obvious what needs to happen.

if you do go to Al-Anon, which I highly recommend, it will help with some of these totally normal feelings. You don't have to go forever - I stopped after I got a grip on things, but man, it really helped. And also, you don't have to wait to start going until you've ended things formally. You can go now - it's very likely you'll find it's pretty supportive of you as you think it all through.
posted by Miko at 1:09 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

itmightbecheese: "I also own a bar, right around the corner from his"

That's an interesting piece of information to withhold for so long.

Meh, I just didn't think it was relevant. I am very rarely in the bar in the evening hours, I do the daytime ordering/bookkeeping/toilet fixing stuff. I have managers for the night shift.

The main reason I become involved with him is because in the two years since my divorce, I have yet to meet a man in my age range, and because he has all of the good qualities listed above, plus we had the common ground of being in the same business so we could commiserate about staff issues, pour costs, distributors,etc. You know, bitch about work...

When I first became friends with him, he had the same midweek daytime free work schedule that I did for the summer, so we spent a lot of time together, either going to the beach, or being on the boat, or doing other fun stuff. Yes, sometimes it involved drinking at night, but not so much that his drinking problem was obvious. We would only be in his bar one or two nights a week, and then very often it was a stopping in kind of thing, not an all night kind of thing. It's still like that. But as I mentioned, it is only recently that it's become so regular that it's obvious to me.

This is definitely a one off situation. I have never been attracted to heavy drinker types, and definitely steer clear of anyone I think may be a regular drug user. I didn't intend to become this involved with someone who has this type of issue, and I'm pretty sure my tolerance level for it is low.
posted by itmightbecheese at 1:25 PM on October 31, 2011

If this is a recent development, and you're 100% prepared to split, I think it's also OK to tell him that the escalating pattern of his drinking is becoming a serious problem for you and he needs to either get his drinking under control or quit or you can't stick around. Sometimes you need to hear how your drinking is impacting other people to really see it for what it is. Sometimes, obviously, you just don't care.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:53 PM on October 31, 2011

what it's doing to him, and also our potential relationship

I was in an important relationship with an alcoholic. What I know is, if he's a drinking alcoholic then he loves the alcohol more than a potential relationship, more than a full-blown relationship, more than friendship, more than himself. This is not something that will change due to a conversation. The loss has to be brutal, the fall devastating, before most people are ready to quit. And even then, he will be the one to provide the reasons for himself. You can't fix it, you can't reason him to it, you can't barter or beg or argue or whine or make everything stress-free to ease him into it. The loss of a potential relationship is really nothing.

It's a terrible disease.
posted by Houstonian at 3:44 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

One thing about recovering alcoholics is that once sober they very often divorce or split up from their partners - because they arent the same person any more, so even if you succeed in getting him to clean up his act theres a good chance than one or both of you will want to move on anyway.
posted by Lanark at 5:36 PM on October 31, 2011

« Older Now you see it... now you swear!   |   Help me organize this concept map Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.