I’m In Love With An Alcoholic

Question:

Hi,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for about a year now. Recently he told me that my best friend’s boyfriend called him and said that my boyfriend could move in with him as a tenant. My best friend’s boyfriend is leaving for school for about 4 months, so we’ll have the apartment to ourselves. The problem with this is that my both my best friend and my boyfriend are alcoholics, and I’m nervous that this is going to put pressure on all of us, both in terms of our friendship and my boyfriend’s life. I can just see things going totally wrong.

I tried to explain my concerns to my boyfriend, but he told me to look at the bright side of things because he’d be saving money by living there. I understand that makes sense – I really do, but I just don’t know how I feel about this situation. The only reason I’m not moving in with him is because I have a lease which doesn’t end until April this year.

Should I be supportive and just let it happen? I really don’t know how I should react.

Colleen

Answer:

Hi Colleen,

Your boyfriend seems like he’s going to make this move whether you like it or not, or at least that seems how he feels about things based on what you’ve told me. If you’re genuinely not happy about him doing this then you need to let him know right now, and not several months down the road from here. There really isn’t any point in dressing the situation up to fool him into thinking you’re okay with this, because the truth is going to come out sooner or later.

I’m going to read between the lines here and ask if your concerns aren’t just based on the fact that both your boyfriend and best friend are alcoholics, but that you’re scared of what will happen when these two get drunk and are alone together? The issue with people with substance abuse problems is that they rarely like to be held accountable for their actions, and the substance (in this case alcohol) is used as an excuse. Alcoholics are substance abusers, whether they like to admit it or not and I think your fears stem from the fact that you can’t trust your boyfriend to stay faithful to you when he’s drunk around your best friend, who will also be drunk too.

Are you wrong for doubting his ability to live alone with another alcoholic? Absolutely not. Alcoholics living with other alcoholics is an awful idea simply because they tend to reinforce each other’s habits i.e. they drink more often and more heavily because they have nobody to slow them down or ask them to stop.

The first thing to realize is that having a relationship with an alcoholic is going to be very, very difficult over the long term. What needs to happen here is for your boyfriend to clean himself up, and stop drinking. It’s really that simple. The one thing you need to be clear on here is that your boyfriend would need to be diagnosed as an alcoholic first – there’s a big difference about what your perception of an alcoholic might be, and what the clinical definition of one is.

What it comes down to is this: If you’re really not happy about your boyfriend moving in with your best friend’s boyfriend then tell him, and be absolutely honest about why – that you think two alcoholics living together is a terrible idea.

If he chooses to listen to you, taking your feelings into consideration, and changes his mind then that’s great. But he still needs to get help for his problem. If he chooses not to listen to you and move in anyways, then you’ll have to choose whether or not you want to continue the relationship, but your boyfriend will still need to get help for his problem either way.

Being in a relationship with an alcoholic is very difficult (I’ve done it and it ended badly), so you need to be aware that you need to protect yourself in this too – there’s only so far you can go in making this relationship work for both of you.

Marlon

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