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relationship advice...please help

By Anonymous January 13, 2010 - 1:28am
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I have been with my boyfriend for over two years and for the majority of our relationship we have fought repeatedly. The main reason we fight is because of drinking. We both loved to party and have a good time, but from the third month of our relationship, alcohol has caused many a fight, over everything and nothing. After about a year of this I pretty much quit drinking, in 2009 I was only drunk about four times, while he continued to keep drinking. When we are not fighting or drinking we have a wonderful relationship, he is a great boyfriend, and we are the best of friends. The moment he has "just enough" to drink, he turns so ugly towards me. I do want to say that I haven't done or said things to start a fight, but I can say that probably 75% of the time he becomes mean on his own. He has promised to quit drinking on so many occassions, then something always happens to give him a reason to drink again. I don't understand how when sober, I am the love of his life and he never wants to be without me, and he can't wait to get married. As soon as he has too much, I am an asshole and a piece of shit. Then the next day he's crying on my shoulder because he can't live without me and begs for forgiveness, even thought most of the time he doesn't remember. He regularly chooses alcohol over me, and if he doesn't like what I have to say, he leaves to go to his friends house and gets even more wasted. I have never been so stressed out in my life, I have gained a lot of weight, and have sprouted a plethera of grey hair. Besides the drinking we have a lot in common, we have a great time together, and I am so in love with him, and most of the time I know that he is so in love with me too. Why does he do this? He wasn't like this with his ex girlfriend, I know for a fact. I'm starting to think it's me, my last boyfriend treated me like garbage...

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Dear Anon

Thanks for your question and welcome!

Firstly, don't think that it's you (or your fault) - nobody is belligerent or abusive when addicted to alcohol solely because of the other person. He may not have been this way with his ex because he wasn't drinking as much or because she didn't wait around to witness his abuse (she is his ex for a reason!). He may be taking advantage of the fact that you are sticking around. He gets to behave in an abusive manner, then cry and say he's sorry, and you are still there to forgive him. Remember that most abusive people have their nice moments and those nice moments may be incredible! Or...they may be ordinary moments that seem wonderful because anything is better than being abused, right?

There has to be one area where you don't compromise and that's with alcohol. Clearly he has a problem with it and clearly it's manifested in abusive behavior toward you. He has to stop drinking completely or you need to walk. That has to be a deal breaker for you.

You said that for the majority of your relationship you "have fought repeatedly". Are the good parts - the good stuff - really worth staying for? What are you getting out of being with this man? Do you feel like you want to be the one who saves him? That you'll be the one woman who can "fix" him and that you are enough for him to quit drinking? Apparently that is not the case. He chooses alcohol over you all the time.

Your boyfriend needs to attend a program that can help him live without alcohol and that can deal with his addiction. He may also have other problems that the alcohol is masking (a rage disorder, anger management or to be honest, he could just be a jerk, even if he has his good sides). But this is something he has to work on and I think a program like AA or a rehab center/addiction therapy (counseling) will be his best bet. He has to want to go and put the work in. If he wishes to keep on drinking and wants life to remain as is (he gets to be be nice, then drink himself to oblivion, abuse you, cry and say he's sorry and do it all over again, while you stay with him) then the choice to stay or go remains with you.

He is partying it up and you have gray hair, enormous stress and weight gain. What's with this picture?

Ultimatums usually don't work. He'll get angry, call you names and use your confrontation as a reason to get drunk. You drove him to it. Then he'll rage at you, storm out and come back hungover, telling you he loves you and you'll forgive him.

But there must be some kind of trade off in this for you, as not many people stay in a relationship that has never really been good. Tell me what you are gaining from being with him? Strip away the "but when he's nice, he's so nice!" stuff and don't say you stay because you love him. Love isn't enough. There has to be some other reason.

Bottom line : you need to make choices for you. Approach the subject of AA or rehab with him (make sure he's sober) and tell him that he has to make a choice: alcohol or you. That's an ultimatum but at this stage, you don't have much choice. If he picks alcohol, then you know where you stand. Don't think that in future he'll turn into a nice drunk, rather than a mean one. He won't. It's up to you whether you stay or go but if you stay, and he continues to drink and rage, expect this for life. It won't stop and you won't fix him. Marrying him won't fix it either and bringing a child into the world will make things a lot worse.

He has to get sober from alcohol and you have to get sober from him.

You deserve a man who treats you well, who doesn't choose friends and booze over you and who doesn't abuse you. Him loving you "most of the time" isn't enough, if the "rest of the time" he is raging, drinking and abusing. You are settling for so little when you could have so much.

If he can get sober, you could have a great shot at a wonderful life together! It's worth a try! But don't wait another year and then another year for him to get his act together or you'll see your life drifting from one drama to the next. We all have a reason to drink: the holidays, vacations, someone's birthday, the weekend, the fact that today is Wednesday...for a drunk, any day in a reason to "celebrate".

For information on AA, click here www.aa.org

and for you, try Alanon, a support group for people living or who have lived, with alcoholics : http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/

Please let me know what you think and please don't think that this behavior will stop because you really want it to or because love is all you need. Unfortunately, love means nothing to an addict when the object (alcohol) of their affection is not you.

There is help out there and your relationship can work! But he has to do it sober and has to stick to a program, for life.

I wish you the very best and please stay in touch with us.

January 13, 2010 - 2:13pm
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