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Dear Christine, Intoxicated in Inkster

  • Posted on January 22, 2018 at 10:35 am

Dear Christine,

I’m really worried about my boyfriend. We’ve been dating for about 6 months and he has recently taken a part time job at night working as a bar tender at a local gay men’s bar in Detroit. He’s loving it but my problem is, he comes home intoxicated the 3 nights of the week that he works. I said something to him but his response was that he’s never had a drinking problem, which is true, so why am I concerned? Maybe I’m wrong but having too much to drink, 3 nights a week, to the point of being clearly drunk, is too much. I also worry that he will get pulled over one night and get a DUI.

I really like him a lot but this could be a deal breaker. Do you think I’m being overly concerned? To be honest, I also worry that he will meet someone else hanging out with all the single men at the bar.

Thanks, Intoxicated in Inkster

Dear Intoxicated in Inkster,

Your questions are on target and you have good reason to be concerned. When you date someone, there are boundaries to what we each can tolerate or boundaries keeping out certain behaviors or choices that we cannot live with. Since you have spent 6 months in this relationship, you have invested quite a bit of yourself, and I hope you have had conversations over time with your boyfriend about your limits, and his boundaries with you.

I’m not sure that the intoxication issue, either the amount or frequency, was ever addressed in your relationship before your boyfriend took this bar tending job, and if not, it needs to be discussed fully and honestly now. If his being drunk three times a week is a deal breaker for you, then so be it. Boundaries aren’t about right and wrong. He may be completely fine with his level of drinking and frequency, and that’s fine. Only it’s not fine in a relationship with you! Once you identify these non–negotiables, telling each other them is crucial. Only then can you both make clear decisions about whether or not to continue the relationship. You don’t have to agree with each other about issues, but you do have to respect each other’s position in order to make the relationship work. I’ve never dated anyone who smokes, though I have plenty of friends who smoke. It’s not that smokers make bad dates or lovers, but I don’t want to put myself in harms’ way by dating a smoker casually. What happens if we fall in love? And smoking is one of my non–negotiables? Now what?! Do I make quitting a pre–condition of moving in? When dealing with addictive materials, it’s best if the user decides to quit for himself or herself, not for their boyfriend or girlfriend. If your boyfriend quits this behavior because you are pushing him to do so, it will probably lead to resentment and the relationship will start to disintegrate. If he agrees that his drinking is a problem to him, then he will have to decide to quit and maintain his sobriety, and that’s something no one else can decide or do for him.

Good luck with the conversations ahead. Sounds like some honesty needs to come out, both ways, as you are unhappy, and it doesn’t sound like you trust him in the bars with other men, or alcohol. Once you know each other’s non–negotiables, it’s much clearer what your next action step needs to be. It’s still emotionally hard, but at least you know you are not settling for someone who is not compatible with you.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

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