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I think my boyfriend of three years is an alcoholic.

Old 11-02-2010, 11:32 AM
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I think my boyfriend of three years is an alcoholic.

Hi all,
Thank you for welcoming me to your group. I will admit that I need help and I am not sure at all where to start. My BF (is it OK to use abbreviations?) and I have been dating for three years. From the very beginning of our relationship I had concerns about his drinking habits. I am not a doctor, and I have zero experience in the fields of medicine and/or addiction, therefore I am not qualified at all to 'diagnose' him. On average, he goes through one 1.75 liter of vodka per week (57 ounces per week).

So, like I said, I don't know where to start. I'm happy to give you all the details, but didn't want to write a novel's worth of information for you to wade through! I just need help. I'm thinking about ending the relationship but it scares the crap out of me (sorry for the crude language).

Thank you!
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:39 AM
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Welcome, Craven!

No worries about writing a novel! I think all of us here have needed to pour it out from time to time.

I suggest reading the sticky posts at the top of this forum to educate yourself more on alcoholism.

Do you have Alanon meetings in your area? That's a great way to find face-to-face support among others who have also been affected by a loved one's drinking.

"Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie is a good starter book to read.

I was married to an alcoholic/addict, and truly believed that if I could just love him enough, he would change.

I was wrong, and that thinking almost killed me.

I'm glad you found us, and feel free to post and pour your heart out if you need to!
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:47 AM
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Hi craven.

I second the looking at the stickies thing and the al-anon one. And write as much as you like - I find that things become a lot clearer when I write things down so it might help you a lot.

The thing with drinking is that each of us have different tolerances, both for drinking ourselves and the amount that other people drink. What is key for me is the behaviors. If someone is lying, being mean and nasty, making me doubt myself etc then I don't want to be in a relationship with them. I have realised that this is in spite of the amount they drink. I have a few friends who drink what would be massive amounts to most on here, but their drinking doesn't really affect my life, apart from my worries about their health. I have no doubt, though, that I would find it intolerable to be in a relationship with them.

Why are you thinking about ending the relationship?
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:18 PM
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Dear Bolina,

Thank you for your response. The problem is not so much his behavior- he doesn't get mean, nasty, rude, or abusive. I don't want to delve too much into the language and technicalities of alcoholism, but if I had to guess, I'd say he is a high-functioning alcoholic? If anything, he just gets more 'like himself'? He is a pretty laid back fellow with a great personality. Drinking doesn't really affect his personality. It's the amount that bothers me so much. Being healthy is really, really important to me. I am by no means, a Jillian 'What's Her Name From Biggest Loser', but I do appreciate the importance of healthy choices. And, I approach alcohol with what I believe is a healthy respect. I like to drink, but I also know my limits and I know that too much alcohol is not healthy (just like anything else in excess).

I will give the background of our relationship:

When we started dating:
BF- 38, about 4 months in to a separation, 2 children (F-6, M-18 months)
Me- 31, single, never married, no children

Immediately we were totally into each other. Sparks, fireworks, magical moments- all that good 'honeymoon' stuff. We had fun, fantastic physical chemistry, great conversations- we just totally dug each other right off the bat. I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about. Simultaneously, I also noticed that my little voice in my head would say to me 'Whoa, did he just order another drink? Didn’t he just got one??!!', or 'Wow, he drank so much last night, how can he possibly want to drink again tonight?'.

I would repress that little voice until I couldn’t hold it in any longer (my fault, I know). All that was bottled up would come rushing out in anger, usually triggered by something pretty inconsequential, and it usually also happens after I’ve had a few drinks (again, I know this is a problem of mine, so I really try to moderate my drinking, which has really, really helped me control my anger). I would try to explain to him how uncomfortable I was with his drinking. We would have endless talks about drinking, with him sometimes saying ‘yes, I could probably drink less’, but never really doing anything to change the amount that he chooses to drink.

It is important to point out that, yes, I drink too. As referenced above, when I drink too much there is a big chance that I will get angry. It’s not really that I’m ‘getting’ angry, the anger is already there. It’s just that when I’m sober I’m able to communicate my emotions/concerns/frustrations pretty well. But put a few beers in me, and I can go from being perfectly happy to absolutely irate in about 2 seconds. BF and I have talked about this ad nauseam. I went to a therapist, thus beginning my own journey of self-discovery. I probably have 15 self help books- and have gleaned at least one helpful nugget of wisdom from each one. I believe I am fairly self-aware. I have flaws, and I try to work with them. I am beginning to think that my anger is a fairly normal reaction to my being completely disgusted by BF’s abuse of alcohol. And, as long as he’s still abusing, I’m still going to be angry.


The above cycle has gone on for the past 3 years. We had one 3-4 month stretch where we did not fight about it, but I think that was because I was so focused on controlling my own anger that I wasn’t really letting myself get distracted by his drinking.

I think it all boils down to this: I want him to approach alcohol the way I do. To which his response is 'so, you want me to be like you?' I realize that I cannot impose my beliefs/values on him. I also realize that I cannot change him. Although, for the past three years I have been hoping that he would realize that his behavior regarding alcohol is more than unhealthy, it is downright dangerous.

So, about three months ago I consulted the Mayo Clinic's website (what I believe to be a fairly reliable, non-biased, medical resource) to ascertain what 'healthy drinking' is. According to their literature, an adult male can consume what amounts to 20 ounces of hard alcohol per week and be considered 'healthy'. BF is consuming 60 ounces on average per week. Three times the recommended healthy amount. To me, this was a huge red flag.

I mustered up the courage to talk to BF about this. His response was ‘Thank you for being concerned. I do need to cut down on drinking’.

That was a month ago. No change. I approached him about this two days ago (Sunday). His response was that ‘It is really hard to live up to your standards’. Mind you, this was two days after he got so blindingly drunk that he actually left me at a bar because he realized he was annihilated and needed to go home. I have to say that this level of drunk is a rarity, but still, very, very disturbing for me.

I feel like I have no fight left in me. In the past, after one of our episodes, I was always filled with a motivation to ‘make things work’ to ‘get us back on track’. But, today I am not at all motivated to do such a thing. I am contemplating cutting my losses before we both end up hating each other. I do not think I want to go through the process of BF in recovery. I have several friends whose spouses are recovering alcoholics and I know that what lies ahead is a very, very hard road… IF he even gets to the point of acknowledging that he has a problem. I suspect he is in total denial.

Wow, you’re right, it does feel good to get this down on paper.

I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to ask for help.

I am happy to fill in whatever seems to be missing!!

Thank you!!!!
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:52 PM
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From reading your post I get this:
* The drinking was already there when you started but you didn't notice right away and when you did, you suppressed your feelings about it
* The drinking continued and your problem with it caused some major disagreements
* The drinking has slowly escalated with some alarming events as proof
* Your relationship is currently stuck in a cycle of anger, resentment and denial/minimizing (him not you)
* You now want out

Perhaps the question is..."how do I leave"?

Correct me if I'm wrong...
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:01 PM
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nodaybut2day,

you pretty much hit the nail on the head. i'd have to say that, generally, you are right on the money. but, i would also add to that "should i leave?"... I know, I know, dumb question!! But I am SO TORN! I think my heart understands what my head is saying, but is not quite on the same page. When I look at it on paper, the answer is obvious to me- leave! But then I think about HIM and his sweetness and his loving nature, and oh god, I'm going to start crying at my desk!!!!!

Did I mention that he just quit his job of 19 years to BUY A BUSINESS?? How in the world do I leave him when he just made such a huge, life-changing decision?? I must be a horrible person!!

I know that I'm not really a horrible person, but geez, it does seem a little cruel, doesn't it?
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by craven View Post
Did I mention that he just quit his job of 19 years to BUY A BUSINESS?? How in the world do I leave him when he just made such a huge, life-changing decision?? I must be a horrible person!!
Dear, that was his decision.

I hope you read through more posts here. There will always be a reason not to leave. Ask some of these gals (and guys) who've been there and done that.

Are relationships work? Yes. Should they be as much work as you've tried to put into this? No.

It sounds like you are doing some good and healthy things in the way of self-improvement.

What you see is what you get with him.

Personally I won't settle for a man who drinks, regardless of the amount.

I think you are very wise in seeing that even with a recovering alcoholic, life can be very difficult.

You might sit down and write a list of the pros and cons in the current relationship as it is.

Keep posting. We're here for you.
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:24 PM
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Freedom1990,

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have started reading the stickies and am soaking it all up like a sponge. This is a wonderful forum and I am so, so, so glad that I found it.
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:27 PM
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Craven...I think the final question is "Don't you deserve more than this?"

Your BF may be a sweet upstanding guy, but he's also an addict, in total denial about his addiction, who cherishes his #1 love above all else: booze. Do you want to continue being second to a bottle?

And yes, leaving him now would mean that you're some kind of "Super B*tch", but then leaving him in a month would mean you're also a "Super B*tch" for doing it before Christmas, and a month after Christmas, there's Valentine's Day, and then Easter, and then summer vacation, or a birthday, or the anniversary of his favourite zit popping....Point being, people will say what they will say and there's always some excuse why you should've stayed.

BUT, people aren't YOu and they don't have to live your life with an alcoholic, which, if I may say so plainly, ain't rosy at all.
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:41 PM
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nodaybut2day,

Thank you for making me laugh! I needed it. And, you are so right.

craven

PS- I just ordered Codependent No More.
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:42 PM
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And, how do I leave? What do I say and how do I say it? How do I not get trapped in his efforts to blame me for the problems in our r'ship?
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:44 PM
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Nevermind my last question about blame! I just found the stickie about good responses to blame.
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:47 PM
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I'm a big fan of "plan in advance and THEN leap". It takes a lot of the stress out for me. So perhaps you start by looking for a place to live, move your valuable paperwork someplace safe, find some cheap furniture to start over, open a separate account and have the funds transfered over, look at how to get let out of your lease or finding someone to take over, look at how to transfer utilities over to your BF, look at the cost and logistics of moving, etc etc.

When all those things have been worked out, THEN decide what you're going to say. In the end, it won't matter that much what you say because you'll already have taken action. It'll just be a formality.

but this is JMO. I'm "Stealthy NoDay"
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:52 PM
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Noday has some very valid points. Get your ducks in a row first, okay?
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:55 PM
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Thankfully, I own my own house and our finances are separate. I do have clothing and an inordinate pair of shoes at his house. Oh my, am I so, so, so thankful for that! I cannot imagine having to deal with living arrangements, finances, dogs, cats, etc. Phew!!
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Old 11-02-2010, 03:14 PM
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Wow, craven! I bet it felt like such a release to write that.

Would it surprise you to hear that your story is just like many of the others on here? Meet a guy who is in the midst of leaving another relationship, fall quick and hard and everything's perfect, then the truth starts to out. You're not alone on that one.

You're smart - you'll figure this one out. All I'll say is that you can leave a relationship for any reason. I have a friend who couldn't stand the way her bf of 6 months ate. Loved everything else, but couldn't stand his table manners. Bet he's still bitching about her now, but she doesn't care because she couldn't live her life with him across the table every mealtime. If the other person doesn't want it to end, no reason is good enough. So tell the whole truth, say it's the way he leaves the towels on the floor (or whatever), or just tell him it's not working out. if he gets into recovery, he'll understand one day. If he doesn't, then that's his lookout.

Glad you found us.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:15 PM
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Craven,
This is so difficult, I know. I was in a similar situation, but stayed and fast forward 11 years and now we're married with two beautiful daughters (ages 5 and 2). And, here I am. Looking for support and advice about how to leave a man who has chosen alcohol over our relationship over and over and over again. Like your BF, my H is not violent or abusive. He just prefers being drunk over being sober, and would like me to do all the responsible stuff while he enjoys himself and our kids at his convenience.

What I recommend is that you think long and hard about how you will respond to all possible reactions, if you decide to end the relationship. He may be angry, or cry, or bargain or make promises. My experience has been that promises to cut back or quit drinking are very difficult to keep, if they're made for the primary purpose of saving a relationship. And then, once they're broken, what's to be done? If he says he'll quit, does one drink mean you're going to leave him? If he says he'll cut back, how much is too much, and what are the consequences if he doesn't keep to his promise?

Three times now, I have been in the cycle of saying I'm going to leave, and he cries and promises to do better and I stay. Within weeks or months, the drinking is right back to nearly the same level it was at, and I have to muster the courage to again tell him I'm going to leave, and then I'm faced with more tears, anger and promises. It is a miserable limbo to be in. I have some logistical hurdles to work on before I finally feel able to leave, but meanwhile, I will give you this advice: Don't sweat the technical definition of what alcoholism is, high-functioning or otherwise. You have a right and an obligation to yourself to have limits and to know what you're willing to live with. No one and no questionnaire or checklist can define that for you. You have a right to tell him what you need from him, and he has a right to decide if he can give it to you. Don't sell yourself short, and don't settle for less than what you know you need to be happy.

((hugs)) from North Carolina, from a woman who feels you pain and wants you to make better, more deliberate and kind choices than she did. Best of luck, and I hope you stick around and keep us updated.
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Old 11-02-2010, 05:03 PM
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Craven,
Welcome. I just want to add my support, and also to say that I am glad you found us. Because this is a wonderful place, and also because you seem smart and strong, and I am impressed with how you are dealing with this terrible disease. It does suck, but you are going to be just fine, no matter what.

Be sure to take those shoes
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Old 11-02-2010, 05:07 PM
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Your post makes me think five things...

The first is that I highly recommend you go to six or more in-person Al-Anon meetings in the next two weeks. If you don't like one you've attended, try another. Sometimes people use these forums to avoid having to see people face-to-face or because they are isolated or isolating. I'm not saying you are doing this, but I can say that in my experience there is something to be experienced at an in-person meeting that simply can't be matched online. I see value in both in-person meetings and on-line forums-- together they are very powerful. Alone they help, but not at the same level.

Secondly, the fact that you cannot control your anger and behavior when drinking suggests he may not be the only one with a drinking problem, or that you may be drinking in order to handle his drinking (I did that-- highly ineffective for me). Perhaps not, but consider that it may be true.

Thirdly, it appears crystal clear from your post that you are trying to control him and his behavior, both overtly and passive agressively. In my opinion it is unlikely to result in anything other than increased anger and resentment-- on both of your parts.

Fourth, end the endless talks and they will end. Continue the endless talks and they'll be endless. Have they ever changed anything? Ever?

Lastly, get thee to an Al-Anon meeting.

This is, of course, just my opinion. Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak-

P.s. I don't wish what you are experiencing on anybody. I lived your scenario for a long time, but was in denail a lot longer. Well done figuring out something a little sooner.

Originally Posted by craven View Post
I would repress that little voice until I couldnít hold it in any longer (my fault, I know). All that was bottled up would come rushing out in anger, usually triggered by something pretty inconsequential, and it usually also happens after Iíve had a few drinks (again, I know this is a problem of mine, so I really try to moderate my drinking, which has really, really helped me control my anger). I would try to explain to him how uncomfortable I was with his drinking. We would have endless talks about drinking, with him sometimes saying Ďyes, I could probably drink lessí, but never really doing anything to change the amount that he chooses to drink.

It is important to point out that, yes, I drink too. As referenced above, when I drink too much there is a big chance that I will get angry. Itís not really that Iím Ďgettingí angry, the anger is already there. Itís just that when Iím sober Iím able to communicate my emotions/concerns/frustrations pretty well. But put a few beers in me, and I can go from being perfectly happy to absolutely irate in about 2 seconds. BF and I have talked about this ad nauseam. I went to a therapist, thus beginning my own journey of self-discovery. I probably have 15 self help books- and have gleaned at least one helpful nugget of wisdom from each one. I believe I am fairly self-aware. I have flaws, and I try to work with them. I am beginning to think that my anger is a fairly normal reaction to my being completely disgusted by BFís abuse of alcohol. And, as long as heís still abusing, Iím still going to be angry.
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Old 11-02-2010, 05:26 PM
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hi craven-

i just want to communicate to you that alcoholism is a progressive disease...this means that it gets worse as time continues.

60 units of alcohol a week...honestly, that's child-play compared to mine. he did 30 a night.

if you don't want to live through what i lived through, please consider taking your exit now.

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