Boyfriend has never had a long-term relationship and other concerns.
March 24, 2013 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Is it unusual for a 28-year-old to have never had a relationship last past 3 months?

I (30/f) have been with my boyfriend (28/m) for 10 months. I venture to say that he is somewhat emotionally distant, or, at least, does not mention his past willfully. Because I knew that he was really into the bar scene and partying in his earl-mid-20's, I had worked these ideas into my head that he probably had a wild, crazy sexual past that he was unwilling to share. I finally got bold enough to ask him how many people he had dated, to which he replied, "3." Apparently these are also the only 3 people he has ever slept with. I also asked the duration of these relationships, which are as follows: one for a few weeks, and the other two for 2-3 months a piece.
I guess this is when I raised an eyebrow...is it typical for a 28-year old, attractive male to have only dated someone for a maximum of 3 months? I also asked if he had loved these people, and he replied that he indeed loved them (after only 2-3 months, really? Especially when I had to take the plunge and tell him "I love you" after 6! months! into our relationship).
In my mind I found that he said he loved these people to be a sign of emotional immaturity. Also, bizarre coming from someone who has a hard enough time expressing emotions after being with me 10 months - his longest relationship ever.
So...is he lying about the length of time he was with these people? Should I be concerned that he's never made it past the 3 month mark? I just can't stop feeling a little weird about it...

I also feel that he has a slight alcohol abuse problem, in that he can't just have a few beers, but ends up drinking 5+ and sometimes a few shots if he's at the bar. He would sometimes call my cell phone at 10:30am in the morning, already wasted, to tell me he wasn't coming over to see me that night (I am supposing he was hanging out with his questionable friend and continuing to get wasted). I told him that I wanted the excessive drinking, drunk calls, and blowing me off to drink to stop. He agreed he would but come to find out he continued drinking. I have now told him he needs to seek help if we are to stay together. He also has done drugs in the past (cocaine, pills, opium) but said that phase is over.

I just don't know what to do with someone who has made such bad choices...can anyone relate?
posted by hanamachi82 to Human Relations (54 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not having had many long-term relationships is not that strange. It's the "other concerns" that are really problematic, and his binge drinking is alcoholic behavior. You can't make him stop drinking, as you've found out; you can only decide to live with it, or not. I would side with 'not.'
posted by tooloudinhere at 12:41 PM on March 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


"Should I be concerned that he's never made it past the 3 month mark?"

Yeah... but I'd think that the alcohol abuse thing is a bigger problem, esp. when coupled with the "questionable friend".
posted by raihan_ at 12:42 PM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


The deck chairs. You're re-arranging them.

You're focusing on all the wrong things here. This is a relationship disaster waiting to happen. He's in need of some therapy.

But the end of this relationship won't all be his fault, either. To answer your original question, no, there's nothing wrong with his personal "scoreboard." The real question is, why is this important to you? And are you causing friction by holding him up to some irrelevant standard?

But seriously, that's beside the point. He has issues. Stand back before it explodes and gets all over you.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:42 PM on March 24, 2013 [35 favorites]


It's not so much not having an LT relationship that should get you thinking about dumping him as it is the being wasted by late morning. Nobody could respect that. There's something deeply wrong with him that makes him get up and hit the bottle.

Don't do this to yourself. Get out of this ASAP and surround yourself with healthy and positive people who could introduce you to healthier prospective boyfriends.
posted by discopolo at 12:43 PM on March 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wow, and he lies about drinking too? Not a keeper. Hit the OKC and try again.
posted by discopolo at 12:44 PM on March 24, 2013


Bad choices in the past are less of a big deal - it depends on what the current situation is. There are plenty of folks who have weird or just "different from what you're used to" romantic histories. I've worked with ex-felons, with recovering addicts, with people who've put children up for adoption... those things tell you remarkably little about how they'll behave today, about what they're capable of, about their maturity level, etc. Especially the stuff that doesn't involve a pattern of violence or abuse of others.

Bad choices right now - especially current uncontrolled addiction or current criminal activity - are a huge deal, in my book. Personally I would not be involved with anyone who is actively using, and I'd be deeply reluctant to be involved with someone who hasn't been demonstrably clean (and participating actively in recovery) for at least a year or so.

The lying, the blowing you off to recover from an all-night bender, the hanging out with questionable friends: to me these are all absolute deal-breakers.

They don't have to be deal-breakers for you. But I consider them to be deeply bad signs, and the "just trust me" response seems nowhere near adequate.

(Seriously: do not worry about the "loved them after two months" and "has trouble saying he loves me now and how does that even make sense" stuff, if everything else is fine. People grow and change, and it's not like you were observing his behavior then. His behavior now is alarming enough all by itself. I am sort of appalled you put "has never had a long-term relationship" first then and phrased all the addiction stuff as "other concerns.")
posted by SMPA at 12:45 PM on March 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


Two things,

The long-term thing isn't really a red flag. There are plenty of people who don't get into relationships with long term intents till later in their lives. The method of questioning whether he loved them or not comes off as trying to make a suggestion that his minimal experience is some sort of cheap thrill for him and he shouldn't consider these important at all. That is really not for you to decide, but they were noteworthy for him to consider replying in that way.

You can put a check on emotional immaturity. Why? Who knows. Only he does.

As with his drinking problem, that is the same thing. He can only do for himself. A good hard talk with a counselor/therapist about what he is doing and wants to do in his life sounds appropriate.

Does it require you in the picture? Not really. You sound like you are looking toward a LT commitment. This ain't the guy.
posted by Bodrik at 12:46 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


My dad is an alcoholic. At Al-Anon meetings, my mom learned that many alcoholics are emotionally underdeveloped because the drinking stunts their ability to grow and take notice of things. It's math, actually: when you're drunk a lot, you have less time than the average person to be introspective. Over the years, that snowballs.

But more importantly, I totally agree with what Cool Papa Bell says about "rearranging the deck chairs." Regardless of what's going on with this guy internally, he is not treating you right. At all. And if that can't be resolved, I would bounce.
posted by jessca84 at 12:46 PM on March 24, 2013 [17 favorites]


Nothing in his relationship history strikes me as that unusual. The guy's in his 20's, he could have easily felt like he was in love with someone after 3 months. And three sexual partners by age 28 is more than a lot of people have.

It seems like this relationship is about to end, anyway. You gave him an ultimatum to stop his excessive drinking, which, c'mon, alcohol (and its associated lifestyle) is addictive, you knew he couldn't do it.

Just cut him loose. Be glad you got out of it after only 10 months.
posted by grahamsletter at 12:48 PM on March 24, 2013


I'm 31. I've had three relationships that have lasted longer than a few months. Two of those didn't last a year, and the third was abusive.

As far as I know, I'm not irreparably damaged or anything.

Also, I'm inclined to take your boyfriend's claim that he loved these people as a good thing rather than a sign of immaturity or a problem. This is all me and I don't know if it reflects your experience at all, but in my experience I've run into a lot more (hetero) men who hold up the idea of Love as this mythical state of absolute bliss, reserved only for like maybe one person in your entire life and never to be actually spoken about on pain of permanent emasculation. Of course you can love someone you've been with for three months. Love isn't a unicorn.

Does he say that he loves you? Does he do it willingly and voluntarily? Yeah? You're fine. Stop looking for things to worry about.

The binge drinking sounds a little immature, but I feel like 28 is the age where a lot of people look around and realize they're stuck in the rhythm of their early 20's, and maybe they're a little old to be doing shots and drunk dialing people. However, this is his journey to figure out, and if you're not cool with it, your only real recourse is to get out of the situation.

Calling you drunk at 10:30 AM on the regular (not, like, on St. Patrick's Day, Mardi Gras, or Superbowl Sunday) sounds sketchy to me. I don't know that I'd call it "alcoholic", but again if it's happening a lot it just sounds like a non-sustainable thing for you. Which is fine. You get to decide what kind of behavior is acceptable from your partner. If "being drunk before noon" or "blowing me off to drink with your friends" isn't cool, then it isn't cool. You don't need pathology or rules or anyone's permission not to be OK with that.
posted by Sara C. at 12:52 PM on March 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Feeling a certain emotion like love does not necessarily mean that you are going to be good at expressing it. So I don't find it strange at all that he was able to tell you that he loved his prior girlfriends but might have difficulty expressing his love for you.

So...is he lying about the length of time he was with these people?

Nobody here could ever answer this question for you.

Should I be concerned that he's never made it past the 3 month mark?

He has made it past 3 months with you. Why doesn't that count?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:57 PM on March 24, 2013


Not even remotely unusual, especially in more urban areas. However, form the way you talk about him, I suspect there are lots of other things going on, and you probably aren't a very good match for him.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:59 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think he's lying about the length of time he spent in these relationships. Those are pretty specific numbers. And this isn't like work history where inability to hold jobs for longer than 6 months is a flag. But I think you buried the lede here. I agree that unless it was 10:30 a.m. on St. Patrick's Day or some other drinking holiday, that would make me feel concerned. I would back away. He's not going to change unless he wants to change for him. You can't change him or make him change. Perhaps you should repeat that to yourself a few times.
posted by kat518 at 12:59 PM on March 24, 2013


People don't typically have long term relationships until they are ready.

I think you should be grateful that he has answered your probing questions with honesty. I don't think you two are such a good match.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:03 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the responses, everyone. Rearranging chairs - agreed. I guess this is all a culmination of the things that have been irking me lumped into one post.

I guess the MAIN thing bothering me about the sparse dating history is that we never discussed it, so I was left to do a lot of guessing. Maybe it's unusual to want to know someone's history, but I feel like it's somewhat important. To this day he's never asked me anything about my past. At all.

His refraining from talking about it makes me feel almost as if he's hiding something, I guess.

The drinking is far more hurtful, especially since I have alcoholics in my family that have almost died from their substance abuse. Boyfriend in question can't drive because he drove drunk, blacked out, and woke up in jail. Knowing this, and experiencing his behavior (which also included him hugging up on a waitress when he kept drinking and doing shots at the bar), has left me dumbfounded as to why no one has helped him before.

I am willing to give him another chance to right his wrongs (being blown off by someone who is drunk so they can continue to drink really hurts), but if my offering to help him overcome the problem by assisting in finding a therapist, etc. then I don't know what to do. I really hate that he's this old and is stuck in this unhealthy pattern. Calling me on my cell when I'm at work at 10:30am wasted is beyond the realm of jerk-like behavior.

I don't want to make excuses for someone, but really, I'm just so confused.
posted by hanamachi82 at 1:03 PM on March 24, 2013


In my experience and social circles, yes, it is unusual for a person to reach twenty-eight without having any relationship lasting longer than three months. If I were on a first date and someone disclosed this to me, I wouldn't necessarily think them "damaged" but it would be a red flag. I would wonder why.
posted by cribcage at 1:03 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how often I end up saying this to people, but I feel like you're doing that thing again.

What's that thing? It's acting like you need some concrete reason to have a problem, something you can point at and justify when people(or, especially, him) ask what was wrong and why you broke up.

You don't.

Repeat that over and over to yourself. If it doesn't feel right, and something bothers you, you don't have to put your finger on it for it to matter.

I feel like women are taught to doubt their feelings to the point that if they can't rules-lawyer out why exactly they feel the way they do, and what they have a problem with then it's invalid hysterical bullshit or something along those lines that they're not allowed to take seriously.

Relationships are about feelings. If it just doesn't feel right, you don't need to wait for some concrete reason to dump him. The fact that you even felt the need to make this post says volumes.

Not to even get in to the fact that the drinking is more than enough of a reason anyways.
posted by emptythought at 1:07 PM on March 24, 2013 [46 favorites]


I (30/f) have been with my boyfriend (28/m) for 10 months. I venture to say that he is somewhat emotionally distant, or, at least, does not mention his past willfully.
...

...a sign of emotional immaturity. Also, bizarre coming from someone who has a hard enough time expressing emotions after being with me 10 months - his longest relationship ever.
Should I be concerned that he's never made it past the 3 month mark? I just can't stop feeling a little weird about it...

I also feel that he has a slight alcohol abuse problem, in that he can't just have a few beers, but ends up drinking 5+ and sometimes a few shots if he's at the bar. ... I told him that I wanted the excessive drinking, drunk calls, and blowing me off to drink to stop. He agreed he would but come to find out he continued drinking. I have now told him he needs to seek help if we are to stay together. ...

I just don't know what to do with someone who has made such bad choices...can anyone relate?
Do you know what you want out of a relationship? Based on what you wrote, it sounds like you want the following in order to feel trust, safety, and emotional intimacy that would help you build what would be, for you, a healthy relationship:
  • a man with a history of stable, long-term relationships that last at least x amount of time (e.g. >3 months)
  • a man who is emotionally open and actively shares about his past without prompting
  • trust and intimacy, including love, that develop over time
  • moderate to social drinker (or whatever your metric happens to be)
  • you feel safe with this person
  • you do not feel yourself doubting or wondering if potential partner is lying
Based on what you wrote, misgivings, and your own values that you laid out, this person doesn't seem to meet your needs, and I would say is doing more harm than good in your life. What I read is your engaging with someone who is clearly not able to function in an adult relationship.

You're too good, grown, and otherwise for this folderol. In the words of spitbull, "Ditch with extreme prejudice and from orbit."

Also, if you are feeling this confused and tore up about the relationship, I'd suggest leaving it until you feel like you're clear about what you want. I don't think you want it with him. The growing is a hard thing, and noticing what is and is not okay, and creating clear boundaries, are learned sometimes messily. Your pausing to consider this situation is giving you an out. Take it, listen to yourself, and look at what makes you vulnerable to someone like him, and figure out how to change your taste in men. We honor the other person by honoring ourselves, sometimes by evicting ourselves from the situation entirely. It doesn't mean you'll be lonely forever. Relationships don't have to suck the life-force out of us. They can be fun, they can be enjoyable, and they can actually make your life better. Pick the ones that do, and be wary of your and other people's motivations for being drawn to or staying with the ones that aren't.
posted by simulacra at 1:07 PM on March 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't think you're confused. I think you know you don't want to be in a relationship with an alcoholic -- you don't want to be a caretaker of an alcoholic -- but it hurts because you like him and have been together a while.
posted by stowaway at 1:09 PM on March 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


It sounds like, before you, 3 months was as long as anyone could stand his lifestyle. That's the only extent to which the length of his previous relationships is important.
posted by mibo at 1:09 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Double posting here, but I didn't see your new reply while I was writing the first one

left me dumbfounded as to why no one has helped him before.

Because they can't. It doesn't work that way. Stopping an alcoholic is like trying to stop a train on foot, you just can't.

You can beg and scream and huff and puff but they can just ignore you or write you out of their life.

It just don't work that way, sadly.
posted by emptythought at 1:09 PM on March 24, 2013 [15 favorites]


Boyfriend in question can't drive because he drove drunk, blacked out, and woke up in jail.

Yeah, you are WAY burying the lede, here.

Your boyfriend has a drinking problem.

There is nothing you can do to make this not true.

There is nothing you can do to make him get help, or quit drinking, or make him behave in ways that aren't triggering for you.

If he's not working towards changing this part of himself on his own terms, you probably should end it just because the "has a storied past with alcoholics" and "is currently an alcoholic" doesn't really mesh well as a relationship dynamic.
posted by Sara C. at 1:13 PM on March 24, 2013 [23 favorites]


The guy's relationship history is by no means unusual. The drinking is a separate issue.
posted by Decani at 1:25 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. So, I think you really, really need to grow up about the relationship history thing. Different people go through things in different stages of life. So yes, at 30, YOU could have been in 3-4 long term relationships and slept with 10+ guys; whereas another woman at 30 could have been in just one long term relationship and slept with 2 guys. In her eyes, you're a huge slut who clearly has emotional issues, and in your eyes, she clearly has emotional attachment issues. Do you get what I'm saying here? Stop judging (males or females) based on their relationship history (or lack thereof). In the same vein, some people want to talk about their past and some don't (likely for fear of someone as immature as you judging them about their past). My husband has never been interested in knowing my history and I've had no desire to tell him. We both trust each other and know that if there was some huge thing from our pasts, we would've talked about it by now. It's just how it is for us. Different people are comfortable with different things. So yeah, my point is that you really, really need to grow up about that and stop judging people because it will get you nowhere fast.

That is all, however, besides the point. Your boyfriend has an alcohol problem and that is obviously the underlying issue, NOT his relationship history. Stop making excuses, and see it for what it is. If you're uncomfortable with his alcohol consumption, don't make it about something else entirely.
posted by echo0720 at 1:37 PM on March 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


Okay, I just read your follow up. Really? Why are you still with this guy? You can't single handedly fix him.
posted by echo0720 at 1:38 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had worked these ideas into my head that he probably ... I guess this is when I raised an eyebrow ... does not mention his past willfully

I can't imagine why this might be true.
posted by rr at 1:39 PM on March 24, 2013


I tend to think the dating history is a little arbitrary. I don't believe it should be considered a red flag as some have suggested. However, the excessive drinking is a problem. You should demand he seek help and improve his behavior and terminate the relationship if he does not comply within a reasonable time. He does not have a "slight" alcohol abuse problem.
posted by Jurbano at 1:59 PM on March 24, 2013


Your update:

The drinking is far more hurtful, especially since I have alcoholics in my family that have almost died from their substance abuse. Boyfriend in question ... has left me dumbfounded as to why no one has helped him before.

Makes it seem like you could maybe stand to stop dating him or anyone for a good while and fill that time with some Al-Anon meetings.

The way you keep minimizing his HORRENDOUS behavior in order to justify staying with him and "helping", suggests you might have picked up some seriously codependent ways of relating, due to your family of origin.
posted by like_a_friend at 2:19 PM on March 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Trust me, I know how profoundly stupid this is going to sound, but having other people say his behavior is "horrendous" is very defining for me. I have always had a very low tolerance for substance users, never mind substance abusers, but I always found myself to be in the minority in my strict policy of "no drugs, no alcohol."

When he's called me drunk, chosen his drinking buddy over me, etc., I've just felt like my being hurt by this behavior was a result of my being "uptight."

But, to see that other people find this all a little baffling, too, makes me feel like it's less about me being a goody two-shoes and more about him obviously needing some help. But is he ready? Only he knows...
posted by hanamachi82 at 2:25 PM on March 24, 2013


There are a definite subset of pre-career urban males who cling to adolescence later than they should. Many of these men have trouble maintaining long term relationships. Many of them are prone to binge drinking. This is pretty common.

He is not necessarily incapable of long term relationships. And while he may have some risk factors for alcoholism, I'd raise an eyebrow at people ready to tell you he was an alcoholic from what you have said, as this would indicate positively catastrophic alcoholism rates for single guys under 30 who hang out in bars.

What all of this quite likely could indicate is that the guy has some growing up to do. Only you or maybe someone trusted there on the ground with you can really tell if that growing up has an appreciable chance of happening before he torpedoes the relationship.

And only you know whether your background with people who have drinking issues makes it worth it to try.

I will say this: my wife could have levelled virtually all of your complaints at me after 10 months of dating. I did the required maturing, learned to drink like a grown up, and became, I am assured, a reasonably good guy.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:29 PM on March 24, 2013


[Hi, hanamachi82 - moderator here. It's great you are finding the answers useful, but as a general rule AskMetafilter threads are not places for ongoing back-and-forth discussion. You can take the answers which are useful, and reply only if there's some concrete fact that needs clarification.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:31 PM on March 24, 2013


I think anyone who continues to drink like that AFTER having lost their license due to DUI is pretty clearly struggling with alcoholism. There's a big difference between that kind of behavior and someone who just hangs out in bars a lot. Similarly with the early-morning drinking.

Even in social circles where drinking is common and heavy, these would be warning signs / issues for many people, it is definitely not just OP being uptight.

I strongly urge you to try Al-Anon or CODA or something. I get that you want to help him, but it doesn't sound like he wants it or is ready for it. And it is not in your power to change that, you can be available if he decides to change but thats it.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:38 PM on March 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'd raise an eyebrow at people ready to tell you he was an alcoholic from what you have said

Did you see the OP's reply where she said he currently can't drive because he had his license revoked for driving drunk, in an incident where he was so wasted he blacked out behind the wheel and woke up in jail?

That's problem drinking. I don't know that I'd call it alcoholism specifically, because I don't know the guy and am not a doctor, but yeah, that's not the extended adolescence twenty-something shenanigans I was assuming when I read the OP's original question.
posted by Sara C. at 2:44 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


he may be embarrassed about his lack of long-term relationships and so doesn't want to talk about it much. or not. all that drinking really puts a crimp in the dating life.

you can't "help" him unless he wants help. also, therapy is not really the best way to treat alcoholism. a 12-step program is much more likely to be helpful especially because he'll be able to make friends with others who are also dealing with it.

tell him to get help for his addiction immediately or you'll leave. then do it. do not make empty threats and do not give him more than one chance.

or, better yet just leave. he may not be ready to change at all.
posted by wildflower at 2:48 PM on March 24, 2013


Do you even like him?
posted by citron at 3:20 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, I do like him, Citron. We have a good time together and have a lot of common interests, and we're compatible on a lot of levels, with the obvious incompatibilities that I've discussed here.

It has been a long, hard road into feeling like I actually know him, since he seems to have trouble talking about his past (he's told me he's embarrassed to talk about his wilder days with the drug usage), feelings/emotions, and whatnot.

Like many people who may be abusing a substance, he's a great guy unless he's under the influence (he isn't violent while drunk, but having him throw up in my bathroom at 4am and then requesting I go down to the sketch convenience store to get him Sprite to drink is just...inconsiderate to say the least), and when he IS drinking I'd prefer not to deal with him. I would prefer that he learn to control himself. I would prefer that he recognize the problem and the lack of an appropriate level of maturity.

I like and care about him a great deal.
posted by hanamachi82 at 3:31 PM on March 24, 2013


I would prefer that he learn to control himself. I would prefer that he recognize the problem and the lack of an appropriate level of maturity

There is nothing you can do about these things. You kind of have to take him as he is, or not.

Tough decision, either way, I know.
posted by nelljie at 3:42 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well I was going to say it's probably true that your BF was immature in the past, cos he was younger in the past and that's how maturity tends to work, but had seemingly stayed with you for 10 months, and it also looks like he's someone who only gets into relationships with people he (thinks, accurately or not) that he's in love with. His emotionally reserved side could be a sign of how relationships are a big deal for him.

Then I get to the part where he drinks a lot. And then I get to the part where he used to break dates the day of, at 10:30 in the morning, because he was doing all kinds of drugs. And you made it sound like the things about his past that worried you were before he met you, but actually this is something you've experienced firsthand, and I can't even tell if this was something he did months ago or yesterday. And then actually it sounds like it was yesterday and you're expecting it to be tomorrow as well.

So it's not really his past that's the issue here, is it? You're dating a substance abuser. My guess would be that the previous GFs didn't stick around more than three months because three months was all they could take of him breaking dates and throwing up at 4am and expecting them to go get him Sprite. A relationship where that stuff was happening wouldn't be a tenable relationship.

Saying you wish he would change and trying to get him to change, is maybe not impossible, but is a huge undertaking, like trying to build a cathedral with your bare hands entirely out of reclaimed materials. You wouldn't expect the job to be finished in your lifetime. And actually if this were a cathedral I'd say go for it. I'm sure you know where I'm heading with this. Sorry, it sucks.
posted by tel3path at 3:42 PM on March 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was just about to say what tel3path mentioned. The reason that other women haven't stuck around more than three months may be because he has a substance addiction that he expects them to accommodate, and has no honest intention of overcoming.
posted by Shouraku at 4:12 PM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did you see the OP's reply where she said he currently can't drive because he had his license revoked for driving drunk, in an incident where he was so wasted he blacked out behind the wheel and woke up in jail?

No, clearly I missed that one. Now that I see it, I retract my "Sometimes immature dudes are like that" thoughts. Not applicable here. DUI is a pretty serious disqualifier form any claim that a drinking problem isn't serious.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:29 PM on March 24, 2013


Wow, if a partner of mine ever agreed with an Internet stranger that they were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic that was our relationship?? I'd say "break up with me already -- please! At least show me THAT much respect."

You've amassed a collection of red flags here large enough for a baseball game in Cincinnati. You're writing posts that say you don't feel close to him, you resent him for this and that thing. Then you're like "oh, yeah, I like him because we have a lot in common and we're compatible on many levels?" I don't know what levels those are, but every single other indication you're giving is that you are ready to break up with him. And for good reason, it sounds like. But don't think you'll be doing him any favors by trying to make this work or giving him a second chance. You'll just be wasting his time.
posted by salvia at 4:31 PM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just want to say it sounds like you are already thinking too much about his alcohol problem. You mention several times how hurtful it is for you for him to choose alcohol over you, you describe with detail the jerk things he's done while drinking, you even have family history with alcoholics - yet you are not sure you want to leave, and you are looking for other things to complain about, like his relationship history, which, as everyone already has mentioned, really doesn't mean much.

This is how it works. If you really want to be with him, you're probably going to have to go through some shit with him. The good times will make up for the bad times for a while, and maybe you'll both learn some stuff and grow up a bit together.

Or you could just leave. Just becaue you love him doesn't mean you have to stay there and feel like a victim. You can just break up with him and stop thinking about what's going to happen next.

Regardless, you can't control his drinking or his behavior, and you can't fix him. It's his right to be as messed up as he wants to be or needs to be, just like it's your right to exit a relationship that is difficult and not meeting your needs. It doesn't matter how much you care for him.
posted by Locochona at 6:34 PM on March 24, 2013


hanamachi82, be aware that having severe alcoholics in your family may predispose you to copdependent behavior and being drawn to an alcoholic. Sadly, I know this from my own experience.

he's a great guy unless he's under the influence

I'm sure that's true. I believe you. But at the end of the day that great guy has a drinking problem and puts alcohol before you. You can't change that. You can't separate his drinking from him. He has to want to do it.

If you haven't done so already, consider Al-Anon. Not necessarily to save your relationship but to hopefully recognize why you're drawn to and staying with an alcoholic in the first place.
posted by Majorita at 6:44 PM on March 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


ack. copdependent = codependent. copdependent is another issue altogether.
posted by Majorita at 8:25 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


what i'm not hearing from you is that you've talked to him about the things he does that make you angry. it doesn't actually sound like you've had those conversations. you should.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:06 PM on March 24, 2013


as this would indicate positively catastrophic alcoholism rates for single guys under 30 who hang out in bars.

Trying to stay helpful to the asker here despite replying to another comment, and I think this will be.

As a guy under 30 who hangs out in bars, just getting started on a career, with many friends in the same place...

Uh, yea, I think there is a catastrophic rate of alcoholism in that subgroup. I know plenty of people doing semi-ok at life who definitely have drinking problems, despite "keeping their shit together". Many of them have been hassled by the cops or even arrested while drunk, and many of them should have gotten a DUI if they haven't already.

The gauge isn't broken because it registers high, there are just a LOT of young alcoholics. And the biggest problem with this is that they all work together to gaslight and normalize their behavior, and make people like the asker question themselves and wonder if they're "uptight" for asking if their partner with a DUI who gets hammered at 10am "has a problem"™ in the big boy sense.

They do.
posted by emptythought at 9:16 PM on March 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I worry about you, OP. This guy is waving red flags at you left and right, and I am not talking about the lack of a long term relationship. And your response is to question yourself because you think you are being too uptight about his drinking? Perhaps seeing alcoholic family members almost die in the past has caused you to set the 'problem drinking' bar way too high? This guy could have easily killed himself and other innocent people when he blacked out behind the wheel. I hope you recognize that. I am concerned about your self esteem if you think any of this is your problem or that you don't deserve better than this.

Yes, a boundary of absolutely no alcohol would be seen as uptight by many people, but realize that you are looking at the other end of a very wide spectrum when you loosen up from "no alcohol" to "binge drinking, early morning drinking, a DUI, and blackout drinking/vomiting into the wee hours". I worry that you do not recognize the huge chasm between these two extremes. I worry that you say that you "don't know what to do" even though you say you agree the relationship is doomed.

You say you know you're rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic... How can you not know what to do? Please don't choose to drown!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:26 PM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nthing what people say about the drinking, perhaps to add: Please wake up; I'm openly begging you.

That aside, no big thing to me that someone doesn't take the initiative in talking about their past relationships. It's always felt awkward to somehow bring it up on my own, "So, lemme tell you about...," or bring up someone because I see a car like the one they used to drive, etc.

But if someone's curious, asks as part of getting to know me, I'm fine with discussing any and all of it.
posted by ambient2 at 9:49 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Agreed with all those who are calling this codependent. I tried to write a comment but it was not going to be very helpful. I greatly encourage you to seek a support group like Adult Children of Alcoholics.
posted by salvia at 10:29 PM on March 24, 2013


I was a lot like your boyfriend for many years. I was in a 30-day inpatient program due to my drinking, which was the first time I knew I had a real problem, but it wasn't until a decade later that I decided to take the idea of quitting drinking seriously. I could not really handle a relationship during the years I drank, though I did attempt it a few times. It's not inconceivable that you could both make it through as a couple, but he has to want to quit drinking, and that could take a while if it ever happens. If he does decide to quit and is serious about it, he will be advised by many people in his support network that trying to deal with a romantic relationship early in recovery is a bad idea, and that if you're not in a long term commitment of many years established, you would be more support to him as a friend; that is if you want to remain in his life, and if he would want that - none of which is at all certain. What is more likely is that he will struggle with drinking for a long time, and his relationships with people will suffer and be dysfunctional because of it.

Everyone who has struggled with drinking has a different story, but I can't imagine anyone supporting me through all the worst of it in a romantic relationship, unless we were already married for years and had a solid friendship at the heart of our relationship. It's just too ugly and painful a process to willingly put yourself through in a healthy way without that kind of foundation to support you both. But I can't talk anyone out of something they have decided to do. So, if you choose to stay, I recommend attending Al-Anon meetings as soon as possible.

You can't make him make different or better choices. The only decisions you can control are your own. You can choose whether or not you suffer the consequences of his decisions. If you want to be supportive, you can learn how to do so in a healthy way through Al-Anon, but the choice to drink or to be sober will always be his.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:41 PM on March 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


When I was involved with an alcoholic I got caught up in the whole Being The Woman He Quits Drinking For fantasy, and a friend who was in recovery from alcoholism said, "One of you should be able to walk away from this relationship emotionally healthy, and at this point you're the one who can do it." So I'm saying the same to you.
posted by camyram at 5:00 AM on March 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


He has made it past the three month mark -- with you. That isn't the issue.

The issue is that he has substance problems. The problem is that you two don't communicate like you want. The problem is that he doesn't open up with you. The problem is that he doesn't have his shit together. Frankly, the problem most of all seems to be that you think you can fix him and you don't realize it's ok to end a relationship you don't want to be in.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:12 AM on March 25, 2013


As krinklyfig says, If you want to be supportive, you can learn how to do so in a healthy way through Al-Anon, but the choice to drink or to be sober will always be his.

Truer words have never been spoken. He will be faced with that choice every damn day. Being with a recovering alcoholic or drug addict isn't easy - in fact in some ways, especially in the early days of sobriety, it's even harder.
posted by lyssabee at 9:40 AM on March 25, 2013


If the 50+ unanimous answers telling you to leave haven't sunken in yet, I'll just add that everyone has redeeming qualities, and you can still like parts of someone and not date them.
A breakup isn't a complete rejection of everything about the person you are choosing not to be with anymore, it is just a way to say "this romantic relationship isn't working as well as I thought it was going to for me."
Not thinking someone is the worst person ever and, in fact, still liking many things about them doesn't mean you should stay together.
You need to break up with this person and find someone who meets your needs.
posted by rmless at 10:53 AM on March 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


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