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What Should I Do About My Boyfriend's Drinking Habits?

"My Boyfriend's Drinking Habits Are Ruining Our Relationship"

This question is from a Group Therapy post in our community. Add your advice in the comments!

Basically I am on the verge of breaking up with my boyfriend of four years. Before I say anything, I do want to add that obviously we have had good times and love each other, but there have been some ugly times, too. Essentially the problems that have led me to this point — they stem from us not communicating as well as some misconceptions that began at the beginning of our relationship. Sometimes I have these moments where I take a step back, look at him, and feel like I don't know him at all.

In the beginning of the relationship, we had many discussions about drinking and going out to bars. I'm 26, but he's 34 and he gave me the impression that he was done going out drinking and partying. I have a long history of alcohol abuse in my family, which culminated with my father getting a DUI a year and a half ago — this has been a source of major strain on me and my family. Even before the DUI, I wasn't a big drinker: I can really take it or leave it and sometimes I don't tolerate being around it very well.

Over the past two years or so, my boyfriend's complaint has been that he never gets to do what he wants. The problem is that I feel like we always do what he wants. My home life is difficult — which is another source of strain on our relationship — so we spend most of our time at his apartment. This means that we are always around his friends and on his turf, to put it bluntly. Of course, I've adapted to this lifestyle but I often feel left out and unimportant.

Whenever he's with his friends, he drinks. This started to take a toll on our relationship because I don't always like to drink. Sometimes I feel like it's a frat party — it's just an endless stream of drinking. Sometimes when my boyfriend drinks, I really have no idea who he is and he seems to take back all the things that he told me early on in our relationship. In four years, I have seen my boyfriend's best friend without a beer in his hand maybe a handful of times. Seriously. I understand that we are together a lot, and he wants guy time, but whenever he has guy time, I always feel like I'm the absolute last priority and a burden. I understand that he also has family problems and that his friends were his family for a while, but I'm getting old enough and to the point in our relationship where I want to feel like his family. I'm not saying there's not room for both, but I need to feel secure and like he will stand beside me no matter what.

Anyway, last night he wanted to go hang out with "Always Drinking," as I'll refer to the guy, and I didn't go over right away because I had spent the morning at the beach. When I finally made it over, they had each consumed a can of Four Loko and were probably three vodkas in. My boyfriend was sloppy — which didn't surprise me — he was stumbling, slurring, and proceeded to get scary-pissed when he got the hiccups. I tried to calm him down, but I was irritated on the inside. When we finally got back to his place, he passed out, and I left after tucking him in. This morning, he was so angry with me that he walked out. I have no clue why he was so mad. The night had ended with him kissing me, and it seemed OK. I just got my graduate degree two days ago and I had been hoping we'd celebrate this weekend by doing something that I wanted. But we didn't. It turned out to be all about him as usual.

I want to save this relationship, but I have no idea how to do it: I don't know what to say tomorrow when we talk. I haven't cried at all yet. I feel numb, confused, and hurt. How should I go into the possible breakup conversation? Any advice?

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Sunshine99755 Sunshine99755 4 years
Sounds like you are in a relationship with a very manipulative, controlling kind of guy, even if you don't realize it.  I have been down this road, especially the part you mentioned about him getting mad at you, when you helped him get tucked in after getting blitzed.  It's abusive behavior and a way of making you feel guilty for feeling the way you feel.  You need to ask yourself what you want, why are you even staying with him?  I'm sure there are good times, but do they outweigh the drinking and immature behavior?  You sound like you have outgrown him and can certainly do better than a 34 year old frat boy/man-child.  Good men and good relationships will never make you feel neglected or like a burden and take compromise, from both parties involved.  Hopefully you get rid of this jerk and find your happy soon :)
GTCB GTCB 4 years
Tell him that during the length of your relationship he has not demonstrated once that he is committed to change.  There is not one shred of evidence because he's still drinking and if he claims he'll change for you then he's a liar.  Just say that your feeling for him are gone and never coming back, and the relationship is over.  Yeah, it's a sucky conversation to have but just get it over with and pick up the pieces so you can carry on.
lisaknisa lisaknisa 4 years
I was you not too long ago and I know all too well how much your situation sucks. I won't get too preachy because you need to do what you need to do, but I agree with CiaoBella01: it sounds like you've probably reached the end of the road with him. I don't say this carelessly, though, I just say it from my own experience. The bottom line is that you're ready for a grown-up relationship and he's clearly not ready for it.   He's 34 and people can be pretty set in their ways by their mid-thirties. Not to say people stop evolving, but his habits are pretty routine by now. His friends sound like a terrible influence as well, which makes your job even tougher in convincing him it's time to grow up. People prioritize what's important to them and it sounds like he's chosen time and time again that drinking is #1 in his life. I understand completely how much that realization hurts. It sucks, it's mean, it made me very angry and unhappy with my now-ex. It became very toxic for me because I lived in fear of the next drunken incident. Like you, I can take or leave alcohol and compulsive drinking is something I don't understand or enjoy being around.   You could try an ultimatum, but people generally don't respond well to those. He might change for a little while and then revert, or he may come back and attack you for not accepting him for who he is. But honestly, is this the life you want? Always at the mercy of his changing personality because of a possible addiction? I used to think things would change as time passed, that the drinking would slow down and I would become a bigger priority, but it never happened.   I bet your tough family situation is also encouraging you to stay so that you have a way out or an excuse to be gone, but I can tell you that it's not worth it. You're actually really hurting yourself staying with someone so selfish, who clearly doesn't prioritze you - it's probably damaging your self-worth more than you know.   There has to be at least one guy out there who is so much better for you, not a crazy partier, who will make you feel important, make you so much happier, and who certainly would have celebrated you getting your graduate degree! You deserve better. Period. You're starting a new chapter in your life in many ways and maybe it's time to let him be a part of the past as well. Good luck - I know it's tough.
CiaoBella01 CiaoBella01 4 years
the one thing that stuck with me from your story was that he complains that he feels like he never gets to do what he wants and you complain that you feel like he does everything he wants. for me, that miscommunication is hard to get over because you two are on complete separate pages and when he's been "programmed" to think that way, that's usually a huge red flag that he's not looking to understand how you feel. of course there are two sides to every story, but you have pointed out a lot of red flags and i would recommend calling it quits. the drinking thing he may stop, but if all his friends are still in that phase, it might not be anytime soon.   you feel left out of his world and he's not making an effort to fix it. that's a fundamental need that you need in the relationship. it's one of the most basic thing a girl needs. if he's not providing that or fails to understand that you need it, then it should be over. good luck!
BiWife BiWife 4 years
it sounds like he has some issues with his friends that he needs to iron out if he wants to be with someone like you. He has been with you for a few years now and should treat you like family, as he should understand and respect your boundaries by now. I wonder though if you've been sticking to your ground when it comes to conflicting plans. How adamant are you when you want him to do something you're interested in vs just going out with "the boys" as usual? You may be expecting more out of this guy than he realizes is being asked of him if you aren't being forthright and blunt enough. Giving hints or looks or whatever doesn't count. Most guys miss those, even the ones that do catch that sort of thing will miss some from time to time, they aren't mind-readers any more than you are. Do you have other friends that you can go do things with if your BF doesn't? If not, I think you should work on cultivating or re-committing to friendships. You can't expect your BF to be absolutely everything to you. You need outside people to help you through troubles, especially when it revolves around your BF. Have you talked to your family? I understand your father might not be one that you're comfortable getting advice from, but what about your mom or siblings or aunts/uncles/cousins?
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