My Partner Has A Drinking Problem And I'm Not Sure How To Handle It

by Diana Park
Originally Published: 
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I’ve always been with someone who enjoyed a few drinks here and there. My relationships were with men who enjoyed an alcoholic beverage or two from time to time. Maybe a few more at a party, or dinner with friends, where we would take a cab or an Uber without it ever being a topic of conversation.

On my first date with the man I’m with — who I am very much in love with now — he told me he was a social drinker.

We were deep in conversation about everything: our kids, what we liked to eat, past relationships. To say we hit it off was an understatement. We both fell hard and fast, as you do when someone feels like home and turns you on, and I really felt like we were on the same page with so many things in the months that followed.

Then, I began to notice something after about six months of dating him. While he didn’t drink often (he’d go months without even having a sip of alcohol), when he did drink there was something about it that was really triggering to me: he would binge drink and make really bad decisions.

I began to see patterns in his behavior. He’d start talking about alcohol and pay more attention to the drink menu when we’d go out to eat. He would order a new drink before his first one was gone, he wouldn’t eat much, and even if it was sweltering hot outside, he wouldn’t have any water.

It was like he was in a zone and on a mission to get fucked up.

The first few times I asked him about this, he kind of brushed it off and claimed there was no issue — if there was, he’d be drinking a lot more and be drinking alone, according to him.

Since I’d never been with anyone who had issues with alcohol I began to feel like I was losing my mind. I felt very uptight whenever he did drink because there was something different about him that made me uncomfortable. However, he wasn’t mean, nor did he act drunk. But it bothered me so much I stopped sleeping well if I knew we were going to be in a situation where he might drink — dinner out, having friends over, going to the beach.

I found out he’d driven home one night after hanging out with some of his friends and sharing an entire bottle of hard liquor with one of his buddies.

He claimed he was fine to drive and he was only a few miles from home, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.

I told him it was a huge deal and that if he wanted to be with me the drinking and driving had to stop, period.

He said it would, and he was sorry.

I completely stopped drinking around him. There have been many instances where we’ve been out somewhere (even with his kids) and he’s had six drinks to everyone else’s one or two.

There have been nights when he’s been out drinking and not called me even though he said he would. Instead, I’ll get a text saying he’s out having fun, then I hear nothing more for the rest of the evening.

I’ve been very clear about how much this bothers me. It’s been the black hole in a relationship where I feel so happy with every other aspect. However, it’s enough to overshadow all the good stuff.

A few weeks ago we were about to start our staycation together and I was so excited about having a relaxing week with him. It was completely derailed after he got an OUI because he decided to go have some drinks with friends. He called me before heading out and I told him to have fun and be smart.

“I’ll only have two then I’ll be home and I’ll call you,” he said.

There was no call from him that night and I laid awake with my heart pounding out of my chest. I knew something had happened. I didn’t hear from him until noon the next day when he got home from spending the night in jail.

It’s been a rough few weeks. He’s started counseling and told me he is going to completely quit drinking for good.

“I have a problem,” he said. “I didn’t want to admit it but I do. When I drink, I make horrible decisions.”

I’ve struggled with what to do. My head is telling me to leave. I feel like I can’t trust him. He told me he wasn’t drinking and driving, but that was a lie.

I want him to get sober for himself and his kids, but I also know this has to be something he wants to do. I want to support him without having a codependent relationship and controlling his sobriety.

I am afraid I won’t do it right because I don’t trust his words yet. Like, if I don’t check in and ask him if he’s been drinking, am I being oblivious?

What if he drinks behind my back and keeps it from me?

I wonder if he’s just doing this to keep me because he knows this has torn me up and I want to be free of this burden. If that’s the case, what if he resents me later?

And of course my biggest worry is that I don’t fully believe him yet. This might just be his way of showing remorse for what happened because he’s been a wreck about it.

What if it wears off after he gets his license back and life goes back to normal?

Will I have wasted time that I could have spent healing?

I believe everyone deserves a second chance. I’ve talked to a friend who went through the same thing with her husband. She told me she’s so glad she stayed with him because their relationship is stronger.

He wants to better himself and his life. He took it upon himself to see a therapist, and threw out all the alcohol in the house, and told his friends and kids he’s done drinking.

I want to believe in him; I want to trust him. I am madly in love with him, and damn, it’s not easy to walk away from the person you love. I don’t care what people on the outside say. It’s really easy to tell someone else to leave their situation, but when it’s you, it’s a whole different game.

I also want to take care of myself. I’ve been torn up enough over his drinking and I’m afraid of what the future will bring. My heart and mind are in a constant battle about what is the right thing for me to do right now. Either way, it’s painful as fuck.

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