Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

His Take: “Will He Ever Quit Drinking So Much And Settle Down?”

I love my boyfriend very much, but he’s a restless soul and loves to go out at night as much as possible. I totally trust him and what’s going on, but it happens so frequently during the week (3-4 days a week, while he holds down a demanding job), and he ends up drinking what I think is way too much (4-5 beers per night). If we were in our 20s, I would care much less. But we are both in our 30s, and this is the phase of my life that I’m looking for a life partner and potential father of my children. Granted, he spends a good amount of quality time with me not drinking and being focused on “us,” but raising our future children in a sober home is very important to me. Some friends have suggested that when a man starts a family, he’ll settle down on his own. Is this true? He’s kind of sensitive about feeling controlled and I’m concerned about looking like a party pooper if we have a “talk.” — Sobering Thoughts


DAVE: What jumped out at me was the fact that he goes out 3-4 nights a week without you! The only reason I could find for this was that he likes to drink and feels he has to go out to do so. Fortunately, this is a prime area for compromise. Why not let him have a drink when he’s around you? He will probably drink less, and you will both benefit from spending more time together. Consider reforming your ideal of a “sober home” to a “drink responsibly” home. The latter provides a better platform from which to educate children on the subject.

Will he ever “settle down on his own”? Let’s just say that “adult life will beat him into submission.” If he is really a MAN, the responsibilities of a home and family will trump all else. That being the case, when he does want a drink, let him. He’ll deserve it.

JAREK: I’m going to assume you are more concerned about his actions rather than his drinking. If his drinking is affecting other parts of his life (missing work, getting confrontational with you, spending all of his money) then you may want to get his ass to AA. But if you just want him to stop acting like a frat boy, then that is totally understandable. Men do get their shit together when they are forced to. Right now he doesn’t have much motivation to change. Best thing you can do is sit down with him and tell him what you want: you’re at a point in your life where you want to start a family. He’s either going to be on board or not. Make sure he understands the sacrifices both of you are going to need to make. Assuming he is game, I’m confident he’ll straighten out once you two start a family. Hell, I did when I just got a dog. I can only image what a kid does to you.

DENNIS: Yes, some men may settle down on their own. Then again, some don’t. There’s simply no way you’re going to know which group your boyfriend belongs in if you don’t talk to him about it. Say something like, “Hey, I know you have a lot of stress at work, but sometimes I feel like your going out 3-4 nights a week, drinking 4-5 beers each time is a lot. I know this might still be far off, but someday, I’d like to raise my kids in a sober household. So, I guess I just want to see where you stand on the whole going-out-and-drinking thing.”

It’s not gonna be an easy issue to address. But, I think you absolutely have to address it, given that you have a potential deal-breaker situation here.

ART: More than anything, if you think he’s going to be the father of your children — or if there’s even the slightest possibility — you should be able to talk about his drinking, even if it isn’t a problem. If he’s sensitive, maybe just ask him about his philosophy on parenthood, but put it in the context of going out at night. And you need to be clear with him what a “sober home” means. It sounds like you have a pretty well defined vision of how you want to raise your children, which is awesome; your man will either love it or he won’t. Stick to your guns, make sure you have your priorities straight, but be willing to listen to how he wants to raise his children too. I’m only engaged, but I can already tell you marriage is definitely about compromise, whether it’s not eating potatoes or beans because you each hate one of them or allowing beers in the house but not going out to the bar for the sake of your (future) children.

* If you’d like to ask the guys a question, simply email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.

52 comments… add one
  • avatar

    kerrycontrary March 31, 2011, 12:04 pm

    I agree with the men on this one that the problem is all about communication. If you expect to marry someone/have kids with them, then you need to be able to talk to them. Who cares if you look like a “party pooper?” You are in your 30s and it seems pretty immature to be concerned about appearances when you are talking about your future family. If you can’t talk to this guy about an issue that you have with his lifestyle, then how are you going to handle marriage?

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    TECH March 31, 2011, 12:23 pm

    I don’t know your situation, but I would very concerned your boyfriend has an alcohol abuse problem or possible alcoholism. I used to date a man who drank about the same yours does (sometimes more) although he did take me out drinking with him. Slowly but surely signs of alcoholism started to rear their head, despite my denial. 5 drinks a night 3-4 times a week is a lot of alcohol to consume in a week. Most family minded men are not out doing that. Furthermore, how do you know he’s stopping at 5 beers? I’d like to think that’s true, but how do you really know? A talk is definitely in order, and in my mind, this is a red flag. Don’t be afraid of being a “party pooper.” You should never be ashamed or hesitant to express your feelings to someone you love. If you do, that’s another red flag right there.

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    RoyalEagle0408 March 31, 2011, 12:25 pm

    Like Dave said, I would let him drink around you. For one, it’s cheaper and for two, it will make it easier to discuss “settling down”. If he’s out partying that much alone, I would seriously worry about why he’s doing that. And I strongly believe that teaching children to respect alcohol is a better approach. I just think if you’re raised in a house where alcohol is consumed in a responsible manner, you’re much less likely to abuse it. Europeans, for example, drink. A lot. But they’re raised with it and seem less likely to develop addictions than Americans. I’m not saying you should hand your 6 year-old a beer, but I do think it’s better for kids to see that their parents drink responsibly. It takes away the “forbidden” aspect that leads to potential problems later.

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    • avatar

      EC was here March 31, 2011, 8:45 pm

      I agree with your statement. It is cheaper and IMO, there is something to be said about being at home and having a drink or two. Sometimes people feel the need to drink more when they are out at a bar. I’m more likely to drink less when I’m at home.
      I grew up in a household where alcohol was “forbidden” and a “sin”. My cousins, brother and I all drink and our parents are clueless as to “why”. Well, when it’s forbidden and stressed over and over again while you’re grown up…it’s kind of like telling a child that Halloween candy is forbidden. They only want to try it more.

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  • avatar

    Amy March 31, 2011, 12:29 pm

    Or… you could just find a guy that you didn’t want to change when you settled down and got married. I had a similar attitude – except I was in my 20s. How I WISH I’d have just waited to settle down with someone who was exactly how I wanted them to be – that I didn’t think he’d outgrow his behavior. Granted – drinking excessively is more acceptable in your 20s – but if he’s still doing this in his 30s – he MIGHT settle down if he’s forced to with a wife and kids – or he MIGHT not. And – he MIGHT be a closet alcoholic whom you believe is having 4 or 5 beers when he goes out, but he MIGHT also be drinking a lot more than you know. Alcoholics can hide their booze intake REALLY REALLY well. And it really worries me that you are considering hinging your plans on whether this guy will change. People rarely change… think how hard it is to change yourself, now you can see why it’s so impossible for someone else to change for another person (wife, future kids, etc.)

    Proceed with caution.

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    • avatar

      silver_dragon_girl March 31, 2011, 2:00 pm

      I agree…this sounds like it might be a compatibility issue. I also agree with other commenters who have brought up communication problems, but here’s the thing:

      I don’t understand people who have the energy and desire to go out 3-4 nights a week. I just don’t. To me, one night a week is PLENTY. One night every other week is about right. More than once a week and I get tired, crabby, and overwhelmed. I’m not a social person.

      Last year, I was involved with a guy who sounds like your bf. Went out at least 3 nights a week, drank to excess every time. I told myself that it was ok because we were young and eventually he would grow up. Well, the relationship ended before I found out, and now I’m with someone who is as much of a homebody as I am, and you know what? It is SO MUCH better.

      Anyway, moral of this story? Don’t date someone based on who you think they might become later, or who you think they want to be. Date them based on who they are right now.

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  • avatar

    demoiselle March 31, 2011, 12:36 pm

    If someone is drinking regularly and heavily like that in his or her 30s, I’d conclude that it is either a lifestyle choice or an addiction. Even if it is “immaturity,” it isn’t a good sign that he’s still so “immature.” Additionally, it he’s leaving you behind 3-4 nights per week to go out with other people and drink, you’re not really that central in his life.

    I don’t really get this idea of banking on a man or woman “settling down” once he or she has a family. It seems to imply that all of life up until family-time is unfolding in some kind of free-floating, stuff-just-happens world. But in reality, that stuff isn’t just happening. Going out and drinking heavily three or four nights every week is an active choice–not a default setting which will get adjusted when real life begins.

    Think about what your boyfriend’s choices mean. If you really don’t want to have a family life with a drinker who goes out frequently, then you need to set your boundaries. Not with an ultimatum or a threat, not by continued browbeating–but by honestly saying what you need, and by making your exit if he doesn’t provide it.

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    • avatar

      Amy March 31, 2011, 12:47 pm

      YES!!!! EXACTLY!!!!

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    • avatar

      Dennis Hong March 31, 2011, 12:56 pm

      I think you state it perfectly in your second paragraph.

      I’m not trying to suggest that I’m, like, the perfect guy or anything, but when I’m with someone, I go out drinking way less than when I’m single. And, more importantly, I’m happy to do so.

      Going out, getting sloshed three or four nights a week, is something that I use to bide my time when I don’t have someone significant to hang out with.

      But, you know, every guy is different….

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  • avatar

    Emjay March 31, 2011, 12:49 pm

    Why are all these girls, women, w/e you want to call them, always writing in about how they are “worried” or “scared” about talking to a SO? Part of being in a healthy stable relationship is also about being able to openly communicate. If you don’t or can’t do that then it is time to MOA and find yourself a real relationship. And second you need to accept the person and stop trying to change them.Ok so you have no children, not married, and he spends time with you (enough that you are not complaining about it), and the only issue is he drinks. Ok easy, convo ” Hey babe, can I talk to you about something?”
    “Sure whats up”
    ” I was thinking about our future, and I was wondering….If we have kids, would you still going to go out 3-4x a week and drink with your buddies? Or would you be willing to just relax with a beer after work and help raise the kids?”

    Sorry if I am coming off as catty, but sometimes it just happens that way.

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    • avatar

      Lindsay March 31, 2011, 1:35 pm

      I agree that communication is part of a healthy relationship. But if you’ve never had to deal with something like this before, it’s just something you may have to learn. It also doesn’t hurt to find out what to say or how to go about it because some people easily get defensive or offended if you phrase things badly. If everyone already knew how to handle relationship problems, then there’d be no point in Wendy’s column! 🙂

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary March 31, 2011, 1:47 pm

      I totally agree that people shouldn’t be “scared” to talk to their SO about an issue. It’s really weird. Like whenever I have a problem with my BF I tell him in about 20 minutes of being bothered. I feel like people who can’t talk to their SO about a serious issue may be keeping secrets…which is never good.

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    • avatar

      Amy March 31, 2011, 1:47 pm

      Absolutely communication is necessary. However – communication alone isn’t going to do the trick in this situation. No one thinks they are going to become an alcoholic. Most alcoholics don’t think they are alcoholics. That’s why step 1 in AA is to acknowledge that the alcoholic has no control over alcohol and that their life has become unmanageable. Anyway – point being, just because this schmuck says – don’t worry babe, I’ll tone down the drinking when I’m a dad – really means nothing.

      You don’t come across as catty – but I do think this situation has more variables than just how to communicate.

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    • avatar

      MissDre March 31, 2011, 3:04 pm

      Well, in my case, I am afraid of talking to anybody about anything. I’m terrified of any sort of confrontation, whether it be with a friend, a boyfriend, my mother, my neighbour… doesn’t matter. It could be the smallest thing but I’ll be afraid to bring it up because I’m worried about this or that or whatever.

      So, maybe there are lots of other women like me out there.

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      • avatar

        _jsw_ March 31, 2011, 3:16 pm

        And men.

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    Maracuya March 31, 2011, 12:55 pm

    To me, it’d also be money issue. Drinking is expensive! Let’s say your average bar charges $7 for a beer. If he has five and goes out four times a week, that’s nearly $600 a month.

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    • becboo84

      BecBoo84 March 31, 2011, 1:10 pm

      Depending on where they live, $7 for a beer could be way high. At our little neighborhood bar in downstate IL, you can get $1 drafts depending on the night, and even bottles are $2.50-$3.00. I do, however, agree that regardless the money issue should certainly be one factor. However, if they keep their financials separate, and he’s able to pay all of his bills on time and put some $ into savings, I’m not sure she’d have much of an argument.

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      • avatar

        Maracuya March 31, 2011, 1:20 pm

        That’s true. I know beers here range from $2.50-$10.00. Just from my perspective, that’s a lot of drinking. If I had been dating a guy for a while, I wouldn’t be okay with that much going out.

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    Sistine March 31, 2011, 1:08 pm

    I think it’s really inaccurate to just assume he’ll settle down on his own when you start a family. There are plenty of single mothers who can attest that men don’t settle down just because there are kids involved, unless of course they want to. It’s important to talk about these things beforehand. You should definitely talk to him about your expectations. I like the idea of a “drink responsibly” home as opposed to a “sober home.” But I think 4-5 beers 3-4 times a night does seem like a lot. Obviously it’s caused some concern for the LW so she should talk to him about it.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay March 31, 2011, 1:32 pm

    I think most of the guys’ advice makes sense, except for the emphasis that she LET him drink. I saw nothing in the letter to imply that she prohibits drinking at home. I assume she doesn’t go out because she has grown up to where she doesn’t want to go out that often. But someone who normally drinks four to five drinks a night will probably not be satisfied by coming home and drinking one beer.

    Anyway, by all means try to talk to him. But also acknowledge, as others have said, that you can’t assume someone will change. He might start drinking less, but in his 30s, with a demanding job already, makes it seem like he may not.

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  • avatar

    TheOtherMe March 31, 2011, 1:53 pm

    I think Dennis is right in saying that you can’t really know if a person will “settle down” once kids come or not. My ex-husband did the exact same thing, going out for drinks 3-4 nights a week and actually having drinks at home when he wasn’t out.

    After my miscarriage, he never slowed down his going out, in fact things got pretty bad and he went out more. We filed for divorce a few months after.

    That being said, I do absolutely believe that some people CAN change in life, I just had not picked one of them. Talk to him, if he agrees to slow down, make sure he actually does it and that those are not just words.

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    • avatar

      Amy March 31, 2011, 3:27 pm

      That sounds like such a hard time for you. I’m sorry you went through that.

      Yes – People CAN change – but what a risk for the LW to sign up with someone that she knows she wants to change.

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  • avatar

    _jsw_ March 31, 2011, 1:58 pm

    I agree with the consensus here. Someone in their 30s who spends every other night out and who consumes between half a case and a case of beer per week is not going to make a stable partner and especially not a reliable father, and if he’s as old as he is, the behavior is unlikely to change. Could it change? Sure. But it most likely won’t.

    LW, I know you love him, but the most likely thing is that all that will change is that he’ll age prematurely as he continues this exact behavior until death or becoming infirm stop him. Pinning your hopes on him changing otherwise is sort of like spending your rent money on lottery tickets. Sure, you could win. But you probably will just end up worse off than before.

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  • avatar

    Amber March 31, 2011, 2:06 pm

    It doesn’t sound like his drinking is overly excessive, but it is weird that he goes out 3-4 nights a week solo.

    It sounds like he feels that the only way to have fun is to escape on his own. That seems to be the actual problem.

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    • avatar

      Dave Jay March 31, 2011, 2:32 pm

      Exactly. It’s all about the escape. This is why I had to assume (in my reply) that she does not allow any drinking around her. What guy wouldn’t want to spend more time with his girlfriend… especially if she is “future spouse” quality? (I could never seem to spend enough time with my fiance’ back in the day!) I think this guy is trapped between the stress of his job and the stress of not being able to relax/escape with his SO by having a few drinks together. RESULT: More stress. EFFECT: More drinking. SOLUTION: More understanding of his situation

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      • avatar

        Amber March 31, 2011, 2:50 pm

        Yep.

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        _jsw_ March 31, 2011, 3:04 pm

        @Amber: We live in different worlds when that much to drink that often isn’t “excessive.” He’s over 30 and consuming a minimum of a half case of beer per week, every week, and he’s consuming it at a rate of 4-5 beers every time he goes out. Anyone who needs that much that often to “have fun” has a drinking problem. It’s binge drinking.

        @Dave: I’d agree with you if he went out once or twice a week to have a couple of beers. But that’s not the case. Even if she doesn’t allow him to drink in the house, that’s no excuse to have that much to drink that often when out, and among other things it’s a DUI or worse just waiting to happen.

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      • avatar

        Dave Jay March 31, 2011, 4:03 pm

        Again, we don’t have enough information. I have known people who could down a 6-pack and walk a tightrope while downing another. The same person might fall off their chair after a glass of wine. Also, is he consuming 5 beers in 2 hours or in 6 hours? There’s a BIG difference.
        The human body does a remarkable job at conditioning itself to its environment (abusive or otherwise). This is what causes the need for him to consume more and more to get the same effect he probably used to get from 1 or 2 beers.

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      • avatar

        Amy March 31, 2011, 6:14 pm

        That his tolerance may have increased more than a “typical” social drinker would be cause for concern in itself.

        Do you seriously think that the quantity of alcohol this guy is consuming is typical or OK? Sure – going out every now and then and having a lot to drink is one thing – drinking this much every other day is an entirely different thing. He’s not a college kid – he’s in his 30s. That makes a big difference.

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    Joanna March 31, 2011, 2:27 pm

    Do you necessarily know he goes out especially for the booze? My boyfriend tends to go out every night he can but it’s not for the booze. He just really likes billiards. Most nights he takes me with him so I can have fun too. But there are many nights where he’ll go to the bar and not even drink at all, just so he can play pool.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie March 31, 2011, 1:28 pm

    If everything else is good in this relationship I won’t be overly concerned. At the same time you need to negotiate some sort of compromise that doesn’t cut him off from what he enjoys and you need. In my 30s I drank A LOT but as someone already mentioned life beat me down. After contracting hepatitis there was no choice for a while which steered me off booze completely for a long time. Now 1 drink most, but not all, days is all I want.

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  • avatar

    Mainer March 31, 2011, 2:33 pm

    I feel we are being a little quick to write this guy off as an alcoholic who is never going to change. Alcoholics allow their drinking to affect other parts of their lives. Yet, he holds down a demanding job. Alcoholics would be drinking seven nights a week. Also, we’re not sure how he spends his nights drinking. Four or five Bud Lites is not really fall-over drunk quantity, especially over the course of a few hours. He also puts his time in with LW (and doesn’t drink) to focus on “them.” LW seems fine with that; in fact, she’s seems okay with the situation right now. Her concern is whether he’ll continue doing this when/if they start a family. There is no reason to suspect he will. He balances his responsibilities fairly well right now and therefore has no real motivation to change. He CAN get by without drinking when he needs to (time with her, work). Starting a family is a big responsibility that would likely be another instance in which he wouldn’t be able to drink. IMO, I just think the guy needs to grow up.

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    • caitie_didnt

      caitie_didn't March 31, 2011, 6:54 pm

      Ever heard of high-functioning alcoholics? Just because he’s holding it together *now* doesn’t mean he will be 5 years down the road.

      Sure, we can’t just assume that he’s an alcoholic based on the information in this letter, but that much alcohol a night and that many nights a week is excessive for a grown-ass man. Nobody needs to drink that much to “relax” or “loosen up” or “have fun”.

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      • avatar

        Mainer March 31, 2011, 7:35 pm

        Oh yeah totally, it could be he his a high functioning alcoholic. From the letter, we just can’t tell. What we can take from the letter is that she is concerned whether or not he’ll continue this behavior down the road when they have kids. She didn’t express any actual concern with his drinking other than she feels it’s a lot (assuming she is accurate in telling us how much he has had). If his drinking was seriously affecting other parts of his life, I would think a) she would have brought it up or b) would have been able to approach him with it because her disapproval of his drinking would have more evidence for concern. Another issue would be if she had repeatedly asked him to stop and he refused. Since she didn’t mention that, it could be she either never brought it up or she doesn’t feel compelled to alter his behaviors NOW – bringing us back to her main concern: whether he’ll do this same thing should they have kids. No one can answer that because there is no way of telling. As you mentioned, five years from now he could really fall into a destructive pattern. OR he could be fine and choose to grow up. It’s all speculation, so anything can be on the table.

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  • avatar

    kamsgirl March 31, 2011, 2:34 pm

    Well, Rhett Butler settled down after marrying Scarlett so I guess it’s possible for this fellow too…

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  • avatar

    nawilla March 31, 2011, 2:55 pm

    If he has to escape the relationship 3-4 nights a week by drinking to excess, this is not a healthy relationship and neither of you have any business bringing children into this mess, regardless of whether or not you are married.

    The relationship seems doomed, by a) the difference in values (sober home vs. drinking), and more importantly b) the amount of time the boyfriend is spending outside of the relationship.

    He’s already not focused on the LW, and entertains himself by frequently doing something she actively won’t participate in to excess. He doesn’t love the LW enough to share a life with her now, and at 30, he sure as heck isn’t going to suddenly decide kids make it worth it to come home at night and stay sober. It would be one thing if both parties were doing ‘youth-oriented, not terribly healthy, unsettled things’ together. But they aren’t. He’s already ‘settled down’ into a routine with the LW and this is it. By accepting this behavior now, the LW has established that this dynamic is okay with her. Adding children into an already dysfunctional relationship will not ‘make it better’ or ‘make him settle down,’ it will only give him more reasons to escape.

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  • avatar

    SGMcG March 31, 2011, 4:39 pm

    I really can’t tell from LW’s letter if she wants her boyfriend to cut down on the drinking or not drink altogether. There’s a big difference between a sober household and a dry household. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask your boyfriend to drink while you’re with him or only drink at home. I DO think asking him to cut all alcohol for the sake of any potential future children is a bit much, especially you can’t talk to him about his drinking now due to fears about being labelled a party pooper and controller.

    But honestly, why are you so concerned about being labelled that LW? As your girlfriend, shouldn’t you be able to discuss those concerns with your boyfriend without worry of how he labels you? If the career, health and/or legal ramifications he may face from drinking so much without a designated (I hope he at least has THAT when he’s out drinking) don’t get him to cut back, it sounds as if he’s set in his drinking ways. Some guys never grow out of that frat boy mentality, and that’s fine. If that’s not what you want, then you really need to evaluate your relationship with him – and communicate to him about that.

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  • avatar

    Miss Mary M March 31, 2011, 4:45 pm

    I’m wondering if the boyfriend is going out 3 – 4 nights a week just on his own, with co-workers, with friends, or a combination of all three. If he’s going out after work with co-workers, there’s probably some networking invloved, in which case, I wouldn’t encourage him to stop going. The LW doesn’t specify what the “demanding job” is, but in my experience oftentimes demanding jobs come with “face time” requirements if you want to get ahead. Mine does and when the boss(es) invites you out for drinks, you go. So, say the boyfriend’s going out once or twice a week with his co-workers or to other work-related events and/or one or two nights a week with his friends. For an unmarried guy with no kids, that doesn’t strike me as odd. Particularly if he’s blowing off steam from a stressful, demanding job. Or maybe he’s just a social butterfly with a lot of single friends or coupled friends that go out a lot. Whatever.

    I find it more disturbing that the LW doesn’t go with him. Why not? How are they even compatible if she doesn’t go out with him and he doesn’t stay home with her? And, why on earth would she expect a man who obviously likes to go out and obviously enjoys his beer to stay at home with her and have a sober household? He is who he is and I’d be willing to bet that he was in this pattern long before the LW met him. If the LW’s looking for a homebody, she should probably move on. Even if she gets him to stay at home without drinking every night for a little while he’ll resent her for it and go back to it eventually.

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  • avatar

    Green_Blessings_Goddess March 31, 2011, 3:51 pm

    You have no control over how much he drinks. You need to decide if you can live with this or move on to someone whom doesn’t drink as much. I vote you moa.

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  • avatar

    AKchic March 31, 2011, 5:12 pm

    3-4 nights a week he is out on the town and drinking nearly a 6 pack each time. Does he drink when he is home as well?

    To me, that sounds like a functioning alcoholic. Even if he stays home, he’d still drink. And he might even drink MORE because he wouldn’t have to worry about a DUI or cab fare. Is that the environment you want to raise your future children in? Is that the kind of father you want your future children to have?

    Time to talk to your sweetie and see if he’d be willing to have an alcohol assessment done. Google search local treatment facilities (outpatient). Salvation Army has decent programs, and most medical insurance companies will cover (at least in part) substance abuse treatment as a part of their coverage plan because substance abuse is considered a disease.

    Ultimately though, you need to decide if you really want to live with an alcoholic who probably doesn’t want to change (and won’t if he doesn’t want to), or if you’d rather move on and try to find someone who doesn’t drink as much, if at all.

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    TECH March 31, 2011, 5:14 pm

    @Mainer “Alcoholics would be drinking seven nights a week.” That is not true and a common misconception about alcoholism. This is what enabled me to be in denial about my ex-boyfriend’s alcoholism. The fact that he didn’t drink every day made me think it was okay. I also wrote off his drinking as a social outlet or a way to blow off steam after work. All of which enabled my denial.

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  • avatar

    TECH March 31, 2011, 5:17 pm

    For those who say this man may not be problem drinker, is drinking light beer, or may be spacing out his drinks — the fact remains that the LW wrote in because his drinking is problematic and affecting their relationship negatively. At best he is a problem drinker — meaning his drinking is adversely affecting others in his life. At worst he is an alcoholic — someone who is addicted and cannot control his drinking.

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  • avatar

    Taradactyl80 March 31, 2011, 6:21 pm

    I agree, I’m not sure that he’s an alcoholic and I’m not sure that his drinking is the main concern, it’s more about the amount of time he spends out without her. No matter how much he is “there” when he’s with her.

    I like the “His Take” part of the week. It’s nice to see there are plenty of guys out there with a good grip on interpersonal dynamics. (I’m lookin’ at you Art & Dave)

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      Dave Jay April 1, 2011, 4:39 pm

      Please… just call me “Mr. Interpersonal Dynamic”. 🙂
      -Dave-

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        Taradactyl80 April 1, 2011, 7:00 pm

        The “Mr.” part is the most important.

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    Chantelle March 31, 2011, 7:15 pm

    There is such a thing as being a functional addict. Someone who can go to work, date, and be a seemingly responsible adult but is addicted to something.

    I’m with a past addict and he was a functional addict. He worked a 12hr day no problem, his friends had no idea about his problem, his family wasn’t aware for a very long time.

    There may be other signs of addiction that you don’t see. Does he drink when you’re around or says he doesn’t feel like it or feel comfortable?

    Has he ever justified or tried to excuse his drinking with or without you asking?

    Granted, this could all be speculation on my part. Maybe he’s the size of Andre the Giant and 3-4 beers a night is equivalent to one beer. But if it concerns you and the future you want with him, you have every right to bring it up.

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  • Kristina

    Kristina March 31, 2011, 8:14 pm

    I think the LW’s concerns about raising possible future kids with this guy is a valid concern. He’s not going to change his behavior because someone tells him to–it’s gonna happen on its own, and that may take more time than the LW really wants.
    Personally, I think it’s good when parents raising kids don’t drink much in the house. Both my parents drank a lot in their 20s and even early 30s, but when they settled down, they didn’t drink, except for holidays and special occasions. Now that I’m older, my parents drink one or two drinks a few times a week at home. My point is, it seems that drinking with kids around is an important issue to the LW and she needs to make that clear to herself and to the guy if kids/marriage are a possibility in the future.

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    cdjd2614 April 1, 2011, 4:26 pm

    Just throwing this out there but did you consider that maybe he’s drinking partly because of you? He has a demanding job so maybe drinking is his way of relaxing, some guys smoke weed, some workout, some go to the titty bar, and some drink. Since your letter seems like you cant’/won’t compromise why would he stay around you to drink? He wants to relax and drink a beer, would you be able to relax with someone right there nagging you cause they feel a “sober house” is the only way to go?

    And since you want no alcohol around your possible future kids, are you going to make sure you provide an outlet for them when they get older so they can talk to you about things such as drinking and not be afraid to come to their mom who has such a problem with alcohol? That would be a bigger concern cause growing up I noticed the people who had the biggest problems with drinking were the kids of intolerant parents.

    5 beers 4 times a week does not an alcoholic make. Your husband is in his 30’s so he’s most likely built up a tolerence for his alcohol consumption and if he’s looking to get a slight buzz 1 beer isn’t going to do it for him. You can think of it this way as well at least he is not hitting the hard alcohol to get a stronger buzz faster and sticking to beer cause he knows his limits. I wouldn’t be worried of someone thinking of me as a “party pooper” I would however be worried of people thinking me intolerent to a person I say I care about so much.

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    Anna April 3, 2011, 4:33 pm

    I agree with Dave. It sounds like the LW already nagged him too much about drinking and therefore he’s been driven out of the house any time he wants to enjoy a few beers. After a long and stressful day at work, I can attest to how refreshing an ice cold beer can be…or two or three or four. Why shouldn’t he have that reward? It’s obvious to me that the LW is not a drinker, because if she were she would realize that 4-5 beers for most men is not “getting sloshed.” It takes my boyfriend 5-6 beers to even have a light buzz.

    If you want to be with this man, you can’t stifle him at every turn. He would probably stay home more if you let him have a few beers right there on the couch while you two watch TV together or something. If you want to be a great girlfriend, you can even buy him a sixer of his favorite beer and have it waiting for him in the fridge after work. If he learns that he can enjoy that aspect of his life and still be with you at the same time it will be the best of both worlds.

    However, if you only want a man who will stay home with you every night and never have a drink again you should start looking for a new one…at church. He will probably be a Republican and make you promise to obey him.

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      Saffron April 4, 2011, 10:15 pm

      That made me LOL! Yeah, it’s really hard to find someone who doesn’t drink and I know that when anyone imposes hard and fast rules on me like “no drinking” I tend to push back harder than if there was a flexible rule or no rule at all. Adults should feel obligated to make responsible choices for intrinsic reasons, not because of nagging. Nagging doesn’t even work on most kids, so LW should find a new method regardless of whether she stays with this man.

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        Lucy April 5, 2011, 12:00 am

        Interesting because I didn’t get that sense from the letter at all. I get the strong sense that she’s worried he’s an alcoholic in the making, and she doesn’t want to keep going down this road with him only to have his drinking worsen over time, but she doesn’t really feel comfortable bringing it up with him because he might feel “controlled.” I didn’t interpret “sober home” as “alcohol-free home” but as “alcoholic-free home” – but the term could go either way.
        My perspective as someone who has spent almost a decade with an alcoholic, only the last half sober – if your instinct is telling you he’s got an issue with drinking, don’t ignore it. If he accuses you of trying to “control” him or of being a “party pooper” if and when you try to discuss it with him, that’s textbook addict behaviour: deny, deflect, dissemble. If he can’t have a rational conversation about alcohol use without becoming defensive, that’s a red flag. There’s no way of even guessing if he is or isn’t an addict based on the minimal amount of information in the letter. But if he makes it impossible to talk about it, then that’s a bad sign, and not just for this issue, but for the relationship in general.

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        cdjd2614 April 5, 2011, 12:24 pm

        If the LW were to approach him in a non threatening manner and ask him to cut back that would be one thing but I’m getting she wants it to stop for her comfort and that is controlling. It’s also going to be harder for her to bring it up since she’s most likely made comments to him before about it and he knows her unwillingness to compromise the situation. I have grown up in an alcoholic family, my grandpa was a closet alcoholic, my mom is full blown booze hound and my dad is only steps behind her. I’ve seen my parents drinking habits and how it can gradually become a problem and 4-5 beers 3-4 nights a week does not make him an alcoholic. If he begins drinking more then it may be a problem but the LW will never know if she doesn’t nut up and get over her insecurities with bringing it up.

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