What Would Debbie Do
My Boyfriend Drinks Alone
I am a divorced mother of three high-school-aged children. For the past few months, I have been seeing a man who is kind and generous, and who wants to take care of me, which is something I didn’t experience in my nearly 20-year marriage.
But I am conflicted because I think that he drinks too much. While I don’t see him every day, I do talk to him on the phone daily. At the start of our relationship, he would tell me that he was drinking. Sitting home drinking six beers while he’s alone isn’t healthy, and I told him so. But I also told him that I am not his keeper. I’ve expressed my concern and told him that, going forward, I need to take care of myself.
We have gotten somewhat serious, and I am confused about what to do. He told me that I have pointed things out to him that he didn’t see or wouldn’t admit before. He went as far as to talk to his EAP (Employee Assistance Program) person at work, and he has collected the names of mental-health clinicians. But I’m asking myself, ‘Am I setting myself up to get hurt?’ He says he loves me, and I believe that he does, but I am a caretaking type of person and don’t want to become a “rescuer.” I grew up in an alcoholic home, and I wonder if I am hypersensitive to alcoholism. He really makes me happy, and I don’t want to throw away a possible future with him over this. Help!
It’s one thing to drink six beers while you’re watching the big game with your buddies, but it’s another thing to drink six beers when you’re sitting home alone. I think you know the difference.
I don’t think the fact that you grew up in an alcoholic household makes you hypersensitive. I think it makes you hyperaware. I also think that you need to accept the fact that this man has a proclivity to drink like this — with or without you. And unless he recognizes that this is not normal, he probably won’t change this habit anytime soon. Thus, it becomes your choice as to whether the good outweighs the bad. If the guy is an ugly drunk, well, I think you have your answer. If you can tolerate the fact that he’s numb most of the time but brings something else to the table, then all is well. If you think he’s going to change his ways, you’re in for a big letdown.
Get it all on the table and don’t back down. Weigh your options carefully. This decision can have far-reaching effects on you, your children and your life. Your discernment is paramount at this time.