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Old 01-04-2018, 03:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Need a little guidance and outside perspective, I think I'm dating an HFA...


Ok. So I started dating this wonderful, loving, generous, and considerate man just about 7 months ago. He swept me off my feet and we became serious very quickly. (red flag, understood.)
Things are going well still, but as we settle into the relationship, I am looking at his lifestyle choices with more objectivity. This is what I'm seeing:

He drinks every day. Of his own admission ( and without guilt) he estimates he drinks between 4-6 liquor drinks per day. Almost 7 days a week. (He works in the sprits industry. )

He isn't violent or verbally abusive. In fact, he quite loving. He's beginning to show signs of dependency, ex. putting himself at a detriment to help me or make sure I'm happy. But If I don't spend enough time sleeping at his house hesays things like, " It makes him feel unwanted" ( we literally see each other everyday :/ )
- (red flag, right?)

He's gaining weight rapidly. He appears to have digestive issues, using the bathroom up to 4 times a day ( normal? not normal? related to liquor consumption?)

He has like 8 credit cards, always pays for everything but he has a great job and so I can't quite tell if this is normal ?

I haven't had much experience dating emotionally balanced, responsible men due to my own enabler tendencies and sometimes I have trouble discerning what is healthy in love and what's a manipulation. So, I'm trying to learn to recognize the signs of substance dependency more clearly and faster with each relationship.

With him, I feel like I see a HFA that has created a life completely based around alcohol. His job, his friends his whole world is based on drinking. Paired with the other little flags I've noted, I think I'm seeing the signs of an alcohol dependent man that may have underlying issues with self worth (which will only feed a dependency and make the spiral worse).

I have in-depth experience living with, and loving people with addictions. And I've lost those very people to their addictions. (death, not estrangement).
Because of my history, I recognize how easy it is for me to accept the role of enabler in a relationship, sometimes without even realizing that's what I've become. After the last substance related loss in my family, I finally understood that I was not obligated to try and 'save' anyone from their own choices.

Now , the challenge is learning to assess potential partners without judgement in order to see the person more clearly and decide if its what I want in my life.
I don't mind dating a partner who drinks when the occasion calls for it, but I refuse to live in an emotional disaster zone ever again. As a kid, I had no choice but as a grown woman, what I allow is what will continue. So sometimes I can be a little too hyper vigilant. This is where Im hoping I can get help with a little outside perspective.

Basically I'm asking if these signs seem familiar to anyone and are enough to suspect an issue lurking beneath the facade of a generous and successful man who isn't an alcoholic but a connoisseur of fine spirits ... and unfortunately, I think I already know the answer. *defeated face emoji*

Second question would be how do I approach my departure?
As in, do i owe it to him , out of love, to tell him his drinking habits are why the relationship doesn't work for me?- Won't that lead to a whole bunch of " I can change" when in reality his whole life is built around alcohol so how much of that can change, really? ( they usually don't anyway)

Also, I feel like it's not right of me to make somebody else feel unworthy because of their choices. They have the right to live whatever life works for them but alcohol dependency doesn't work for my life. So maybe I just approach it as it's my issue and not his?
Does that do a disservice to the man by not letting him know his drinking IS in fact affecting his life? Ie losing a good relationship because of it?

advice? guidance? I'm stuck in a loop here people. helllp!
anyway, thanks for reading this really long post and any potential feedback.
-
<3

Last edited by Belle143; 01-04-2018 at 03:35 PM. Reason: edit title.
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Old 01-04-2018, 03:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Belle! You seem very insightful, so to be honest I'm surprised you're struggling so much with this; I suppose that pesky love thing :-)

First of all, 4-6 liquor drinks/day is absolutely an alcoholic as far as I'm concerned. That is a dangerous level of alcohol to maintain, and if he's able to be functional and keep down a good job, he's obviously been an alcoholic for quite some time and built up a serious tolerance. Digestive issues and weight gain aren't unique to alcoholism, of course, but they certainly are consequences of heavy alcohol intake. The neediness as well is a red flag, as you noted. The need for validation after feeling guilty due to drinking is very real and can be soo taxing on the partner. Has he ever gotten sloppy around you? Ever had to help him do normal things because he was too drunk/hungover?

It doesn't sound to me like you're ready to make a clean break... I would approach it this way: propose a booze-free weekend and see how he reacts. Before my alcoholism reared its ugly head, I'd been with a guy who always had alcohol ready for our dates, and i finally asked if he needed booze to enjoy my company. That's a fair question. I think that would be a subtle way to gauge if he recognizes it as a problem, because he very well may think everyone does that and it's normal. Now, this is of course not a perfect plan; he could easily pull off a weekend or whatever without alcohol just to please you. But it would open up the floor for a conversation without being too accusatory... maybe? Just a thought!!

Btw, do you drink? If you don't, I don't know how you can stand that!!!
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Old 01-04-2018, 03:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi, Belle.
Welcome.
If his drinking is a problem for you, then it’s a problem.
Drinking every day isn’t good. It just isn’t, and most people don’t.
The other stuff, eight credit cards, digestive stuff, I dunno.
Could be something, could be unrelated to alcohol at all.
I have learned from this site that it isn’t uncommon for people who have a problem with alcohol or other substances to deep dive into new relationships and love bomb the heck out of the potential partner while also keeping their drinking habits under wraps for a while.
Then, when the newness abates a bit, we start to see a few cracks in the facade.
Is this happening to you.? Can’t say without more info.
You sound centered and sound. You know what it is like to be an enabler and you are wise to be having a good think about this relationship.
If it were me, I would start by having a conversation about the drinking and how it makes you uneasy.
He may agree. He may tell you you are wrong. He may get defensive.
How he reacts to the conversation would be very telling, I think.
Good luck.
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sorry you are dealing with this, but I think you already know that you aren't comfortable with certain things about his life and lifestyle. That's okay! The whole idea of dating someone is to get to know them better and see how they handle life. If you are already having these concerns, I think you should listen to your gut.

As far as how to approach breaking up, that's up to you; however, just telling someone the relationship isn't working out for you is sufficient. If he presses you for more, then I would tell him his excessive drinking bothers me quite a bit. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be the first woman to tell him that.
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Basically I'm asking if these signs seem familiar to anyone and are enough to suspect an issue lurking beneath the facade of a generous and successful man who isn't an alcoholic but a connoisseur of fine spirits

HFA is a stage of alcoholism - a stage on the way down.
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi Belle,

Lots of good insight already.

Just wanted to add that you are correct in that it is your "problem" not his and there is nothing wrong with that. Right now he doesn't seem to have a problem with the amount he is drinking (rightly or wrongly, doesn't matter).

I think it's really great that you are looking out for yourself and questioning how this all affects you. I really mean that, it's a brave thing to do and not easy.
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Old 01-04-2018, 05:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Welcome Belle, Sounds like my husband a problem drinker. The occupation is different. All alcoholics are connoisseurs of alcohol.
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Old 01-04-2018, 06:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Belle143 View Post
He drinks every day. Of his own admission ( and without guilt) he estimates he drinks between 4-6 liquor drinks per day. Almost 7 days a week.
Yeah, that's a lot of alcohol. Not up to me to diagnose whether or not he is an alcoholic, but I wouldn't date a man who drinks so much.


Quote:
I haven't had much experience dating emotionally balanced, responsible men due to my own enabler tendencies and sometimes I have trouble discerning what is healthy in love and what's a manipulation. So, I'm trying to learn to recognize the signs of substance dependency more clearly and faster with each relationship.
Sounds like you've gotten to the point where you can see the signs of addiction, but you haven't gotten to the point of putting your own needs first, and gracefully passing on the guys who aren't compatible with what you want.

You state above that you have enabler tendencies, so yeah, your mind will play tricks with you when you date an addict.

Quote:
Paired with the other little flags I've noted, I think I'm seeing the signs of an alcohol dependent man that may have underlying issues with self worth
Wow, this man sounds like manna from heaven for a codependent partner!

Quote:
Because of my history, I recognize how easy it is for me to accept the role of enabler in a relationship, sometimes without even realizing that's what I've become. After the last substance related loss in my family, I finally understood that I was not obligated to try and 'save' anyone from their own choices.
Exactly.

Quote:
how do I approach my departure?
As in, do i owe it to him , out of love, to tell him his drinking habits are why the relationship doesn't work for me?- Won't that lead to a whole bunch of " I can change" when in reality his whole life is built around alcohol so how much of that can change, really? ( they usually don't anyway)

Also, I feel like it's not right of me to make somebody else feel unworthy because of their choices. They have the right to live whatever life works for them but alcohol dependency doesn't work for my life. So maybe I just approach it as it's my issue and not his?
Does that do a disservice to the man by not letting him know his drinking IS in fact affecting his life? Ie losing a good relationship because of it?
He knows how much he drinks. He doesn't need you to point it out. Don't give into your need to "save" him.

Think of what a non-codependent, non-enabler would do. Assess the situation, look for red flags, and cut and run if there were any. We codependents stay and stay, fix and fix. And waste years of our lives living in dysfunction.

You've been with him for 7 months. These are probably red flags that you could have noticed in the first few dates when it was easier to gracefully exit. But still, it's progress that you are seeing so clearly now, and your own recovery is showing. In my opinion the best thing is to just be honest and say that it's not working out for you., that you are looking for something else in your life. You're not married, you don't have kids. You know where this relationship could go -- 7 months is not a life sentence. You can still back out without too much fallout.
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Old 01-04-2018, 07:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I haven't had much experience dating emotionally balanced, responsible men due to my own enabler tendencies and sometimes I have trouble discerning what is healthy in love and what's a manipulation. So, I'm trying to learn to recognize the signs of substance dependency more clearly and faster with each relationship.

if you were involved with/dating an emotionally balanced, responsible man you would not be HERE. we should be asking ourselves stuff like.....i wonder if he likes thai food?

we need to honor what we SEE, respect what we KNOW......not try to minimize, marginalize, diminish the facts as they present themselves to us.
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Old 01-04-2018, 08:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm trying to learn to recognize the signs of substance dependency more clearly and faster with each relationship.
Forget about the substance dependency for a moment. What do you actually WANT in a relationship?

Somebody recommended once to handwrite three pages of what I wanted in a partner. When I was done with it, I recognized that they were three pages of what I wanted in my own life, and I didn't necessarily need another partner to fulfill those needs. What's odd is that once I accomplished much of what I wrote in those three pages, my now husband came into my life.

I will also say that the neediness and the eight credit cards would be dealbreakers for me. I've also let go of relationships for much more minor reasons. Anvilhead's comment about Thai food made me chuckle - I've rejected guys because they didn't want to eat anything besides Italian and American. I even had an argument with a dear friend of mine once - I exclaimed in frustration"You'll let somebody's tongue in your mouth but you won't eat a piece of General Tso's Chicken?" Needless to say, we didn't date.

Each time I ended it it was extremely difficult and awkward, but one must do what one must do. You're not doing anyone any favors by holding onto a relationship that's going to end anyway.
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Old 01-04-2018, 08:26 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I met my H almost 16 years ago. Very charming and kind and caring and very generous. I came out of a marriage with a very controlling person so this was a nice change. Somebody that actually really cared about me and what I thought. He was also a very HFA but of course I didn't know it really at the time, or at least didn't really see it for what is was. He would drink openly in the evening (wine, which we drank together) and often get up in the middle of the night and drink hard liquor (I did not really know that then). I had questioned him here and there but of course he always minimized it and like I said, very HFA. We also fell very quickly in love although we did wait 4 years to get married.
Looking back now I know I was very na´ve about it all and probably also a bit in denial because we were in love. Now i know different. It took 15 years for me to get to the point where I could no longer handle it because he would stop and restart and of course if would get worse each time.
It sounds like you are pretty aware of what addiction is and the whole codependent/enabler thing that goes along with it.
Like other said, even though it is obviously a problem he has he doesn't see it as such but it is a problem for you. So I would tell him it just isn't working out for you because his alcohol consumption is a problem for you. As long as you're not a jerk about how you say it you're not making him feel unworthy. And even if it is, that is his issue to deal with. No sense in sticking around because you don't want to make him feel unworthy. It's been 7 months but only 7 months.
I wish I would've seen all the red flags in him and myself I guess. But then I also wouldn't have had my awesome kid. He's not a bad person and has changed a lot now but it may still be too late. Hindsight is 20/20
A friend of mine's mom was dating her current husband many years ago but she wouldn't marry him because of his drinking. They split and he sobered up and they ended up getting back together and marrying. She didn't force him to quit but he decided that he needed to. Unless your guy is wanting to quit he's not going to do it and it sounds like that is a deal breaker (and rightfully so) for you.
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Old 01-04-2018, 08:35 PM   #12 (permalink)
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And, just to be clear, high functioning is a stage of alcohol dependence, not a type.
We are all high functioning until we aren’t.
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Old 01-04-2018, 08:35 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Forget about the substance dependency for a moment. What do you actually WANT in a relationship?
I'm still trying to figure out what it is that I want for me in a relationship and life after 1 year of being in counseling. It seems like that should be such a simple question, but very hard when you've always put everyone else first. It's hard not to feel selfish when wanting stuff even though deep down I know it really isn't.
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Old 01-04-2018, 08:54 PM   #14 (permalink)
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And, just to be clear, high functioning is a stage of alcohol dependence, not a type.
We are all high functioning until we aren’t.
This makes sense a lot of sense the way you put this. I guess my definition of HFA in my H's case was that he was functioning at work because he would quit drinking early enough in the morning so he'd be sober for work. Once he came home and started drinking again he stopped being very functional in a hurry. He was functional away from home up until he quit drinking and at that point things were really bad at home but he had not gone to work drunk (he didn't really do much away from home outside of work )
He was never one to hit the bars to go drink luckily because had that been the case I'm sure he would've ended up with a DUI at some point
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Old 01-04-2018, 09:31 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I guess my definition of HFA in my H's case was that he was functioning at work because he would quit drinking early enough in the morning so he'd be sober for work.

there is nothing functional about that.
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Old 01-04-2018, 09:43 PM   #16 (permalink)
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He sounds like a younger version of me. Pretty much anyone who drinks a half dozen a day every day doesn't do that "just because." Whether he is addicted now, or will be at some point in the near/mid term is pretty much moot, because chances are he's already crossed the line where it no longer is a choice, it is a need. Alcoholism is progressive, so his current status isn't the issue, the fact that he continues to drink is. Alcoholic or not, worth spending more emotional capital on or not? Same sanity check for both: say that you are not interested in hitching your heart to the Titanic, that the man you want is someone who can (and does) choose not to drink. Say... for 3 months. When faced with a version of that ultimatum, I broke it off. I am not proud of it, but that is what I did and at the time would have sworn that I was not an alcoholic.

It doesn't sound like he is anywhere near the place where he sees the cost of continuing to drink exceeding the cost of quitting. So do not make his response about you, it absolutely is not. To the alcoholic, booze is not the problem, it is the solution.

That's my two cents, for what it is worth.
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:54 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I guess my definition of HFA in my H's case was that he was functioning at work because he would quit drinking early enough in the morning so he'd be sober for work.
A
there is nothing functional about that.
I agree, now I can see that but at the time it seemed functional since at least he was sober at work and not putting people's lives in danger and he was "only" drunk at home. It seems so twisted to look at it that way now that I know better. I guess denial and avoidance are very potent force.
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