Alcoholic Boyfriend? How Alcoholic Behavior Destroys Your Trust

As a psychiatrist that specializes in addiction, I have heard a lot of complaints over the years from different clients about their experiences dating an alcoholic boyfriend. The stories are like a country western song where the chorus is always the same. The recurring theme is a pattern of alcoholic behavior which includes being irresponsible and lying. Here is a recent case from my practice that illustrates the difficulties of having a boyfriend with an alcohol problem.

T.R. is 24 years old and has been dating a recovering alcoholic for six months. They get along well and she has been very pleased that he treats her 4 year-old son in a loving and kind way. Her son has become very fond of him. Several weeks ago, T.R. was at a family dinner with her alcoholic boyfriend, her parents, and some close friends. Her boyfriend excused himself from the table. He never returned! She called him multiple times on his cell phone, but he did not respond. She did not know what to think. She felt a range of emotions including anger, resentment, worry, embarrassment (how do you explain this to your family) and panic. She did not hear from him for 2 days! When he finally contacted her, he told her some crazy excuse why he had left the dinner without telling anyone. She knew he was lying. She confronted him about having an alcohol relapse. He denied it and became very defensive.

This case is a variation of the following themes I hear: he disappeared, he lost his cell phone, his car broke down etc. The other common scenarios are the girlfriend finds empty alcohol bottles hidden in drawers, her boyfriend comes in smashed at 3AM, he promises to quit drinking alcohol, but continues to drink.

Typical alcoholic behavior impacts the victim (you) in negative ways. Alcoholic behavior includes lying, hiding drinking, not being responsible about keeping in touch, getting defensive about an alcohol relapse when confronted, and being in denial that alcohol is the dominant force in his life (interfering with his personal life and his work).

Anyone with an active alcohol problem is focused on drinking alcohol and is not focused on a relationship. His main relationship is with a bottle of alcohol. A person who is actively drinking alcohol or using drugs is unable to meet the needs of his partner in a consistent way. He believes he needs alcohol (his brain is alcohol dependent) and you think you need him.

The more alcoholic behavior you are willing to put up with, the more you are demonstrating that you are addicted to him, in your own way.If you want a stable, healthy, and happy relationship, find someone else. If he decides to go into alcoholic recovery, it usually takes a year of sobriety to be able to handle a romantic relationship.

Marriages to an alcoholic husband tend to be very stormy and difficult. If you go on to marry your alcoholic boyfriend, you most likely have issues with your own self-esteem that should be addressed. Try attending Al-Anon meetings to get some perspective about your unhealthy relationship and learn how to set appropriate boundaries. Therapy may be helpful as well. Learn to take care of you.

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