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Do I give my ex with a drinking problem a second chance?

Tagged as: Breaking up, Health, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (15 May 2018) 10 Answers - (Newest, 16 May 2018)
A female United Kingdom age 26-29, *ammie28 writes:

Do I give my ex with a drinking problem a second chance?

I had been with my boyfriend for about 11 months now and I recently decided to end our relationship because of his drinking habit.

I wasn't happy about his drinking early on but I think at first I was always rationalising it, making excuses like maybe he's just nervous on our initial dates; or he's had a hard day and is just blowing off some steam; or he's just having a good time. I care about him a lot which may have also overshadowed my judgement, but I certainly did pick up that he'd drink a lot in a short space of time and wasn't good at stopping at his limit when we did drink together, either out or at his place.

I did vocalise my feelings on this a couple of times and he agreed it was an issue but nothing really changed.

I felt like it had gotten worse particularly on two occasions. One, when he got drunk (we were at his place) and when I asked him to stop drinking and just go to bed with me he raised his voice and told me to 'stop telling him what to f****ng do' and stormed off back to the kitchen and continued drinking. The next morning he couldn't even remember what he'd said or done when i brought it up. Two, when he drank with a friend one Sat night and was clearly hungover the next day that we didn't get to do what I'd planned for his birthday treat that Sunday - plans he'd known about for weeks. I also discovered he'd taken coke with this friend that night, he admitted this to me and it's not something I knew he'd ever tried or taken when with friends. I was really disappointed and upset that he didn't take our plans and me seriously. He apologised briefly that day (Sunday) but the proper, longer apology took him about a week to make over the phone.

So I decided to end it soon after the latter scenario. I don't think I deserve this treatment despite other aspects of our relationship being great. When we had the breakup conversation, he asked what he had to do to make it right. He said he's willing to do whatever it takes going forward and seemed sincere. I said I needed time and space to think about it all. It's been a couple days since splitting now.

I don't think I can just say stop drinking. I don't want to be extreme about it but clearly something has to change. I just don't know if it's worth risking my heart over this and what could happen going forward if I take him back. What if it's just more of the same experiences? I don't want to be in a relationship where this is something hanging in the air all the time and if we're out/in having a drink, wondering how far it's going to go. I know he loves me and has said he can't forgive himself for letting things get to this point.

So, do I give him a second chance? What would you do in my shoes?

View related questions: drunk, my ex

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (16 May 2018):

I have a difficult time conveying advice to young people in-love; because the heart overtakes common-sense.

You did a very brave, powerful, and difficult thing. What you did was good for you, and to his benefit. He has to lose something he cherishes; before he realizes the error of his ways. You love him in all aspects; but the things that might most adversely effect your relationship, is where you must draw the line. There is no room for negotiation with people who have drug or drinking problems. They are prone to lying.

My dear, you are wise beyond your years; and a good upbringing must have strengthened your self-confidence and self-esteem. You know you deserve better; in spite of how much you truly do care for him, and how much it hurts you to deny your heart's desires. You are a very strong and intelligent woman.

If I were in your shoes; I'd do exactly the same thing. If I address a problem in my relationship, or if my partner relates an issue to me that troubles him; we both have a responsibility to each other to correct it. Immediately!

Resolving those problems builds trust, it strengthens our bond, and it proves our mutual-respect for each other. It is demonstrative of just how deep our love runs. If you don't love me enough to protect me, and not to hurt me unnecessarily; then you're telling me that my love is greater than yours. I don't mean as much to you, as you mean to me. I want to be on equal-footing, when it comes to love. If I must sacrifice something; it's for the good of both of us.

How much we love each other is proven by our willingness and determination to do what's best for our relationship.

It's hard to leave him; but his drinking may eventually become alcoholism. Maybe it already is. Cocaine is a hard drug. He combines hard-drugs and alcohol. Only well-seasoned users can do that. He's no novice.

He has to acknowledge the problem to himself; then he has to do something about it. It has to be completely corrected. Not just for the time-being; or just to get you back. He has to do it; because he loves you, and he loves himself just as much. It's not your responsibility to make excuses for him; nor to bury yourself in denial, because he refuses to listen to your very serious concerns.

We're talking about his health, the threat of addiction; and most importantly, your safety and well-being!

Alcoholism and drug-abuse destroys relationships; because the love transforms into just a toxic-connection. They become abusive, violent, lazy; and eventually criminal.

I'd do exactly what you did.

He has to recognize he has a problem; and if it is too hard to control it himself, he must seek counseling and rehabilitation.

Love is not a magic cure. It will not coerce him to take steps to help himself; he has to be self-motivated. He has to want you back so badly; that he will prove it by getting rehabilitative-counseling. He didn't just start doing cocaine; he just kept it from you.

His return should require no less than his giving-up alcohol, and never to touch drugs; because he may have a genetic-predisposition to addiction. You don't stick around to determine whether this is the case; you get out as soon as you see the symptoms of drinking too much, or the use of addictive-substances. Cocaine is one of the most addictive of narcotics; aside from opioids, heroine, and methamphetamine. He could lose his job, if his employer requires him to submit to a random drug test. Or arrested; if he is tested by the police in a traffic-stop, or in an accident. It makes him no better-off, doing it at home!

You did the right thing. You are keeping yourself sober; and doing everything you possibly can to be a good girlfriend. You should expect no less from the person you give your heart to. One day you may want a husband and children. You don't need a person with drinking or drug problems to throw you off-course. That's a ticket to hell.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (16 May 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntI think he WILL change - for a week or two, but after that, guess what? You already know the answer. He could also have a drug problem by the sound of it.

I had a short but very volatile relationship with an alcoholic many years ago. A strange set of circumstances threw us together, otherwise I would never have entertained dating someone like him. I grew tired of spending all my time with him drinking. The final straw came when he tried to pimp me out to one of his friends whose wife had left him and was feeling a bit down. I was supposed to provide "entertainment". I left the following morning (as soon as I was sober enough to drive) and never contacted him again. Some 15 years later, I bumped into one of his sons and he told me the whole family had lost contact with this guy (he had 4 kids) because of his drinking and that, the last they had heard, he was living in a caravan behind a pub somewhere. Don't you deserve better?

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 May 2018):

No! Take it from someone who has been there. Married for over fifteen years to an alcholic before I wised up and knew there would be no change. I knew he had drinking problems before we married but was naive enough to think it would change. Your boyfriend has made no effort to change. No AA meetings, no help groups, nothing. Don't take him at his word. It will be more of the same experiences and probably worse.

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A male reader, N91 United Kingdom + , writes (16 May 2018):

N91 agony auntNope, absolutely not.

Run a mile. He’s acknowledged he has a problem and done nothing about it and was happy enough to see you walk away rather than change his ways. Does that not show how much he values you?

He drinks until he becomes aggressive and comes out with the classic ‘I can’t remember anything’ excuse. Do you want to be with someone like that? Married to that? Have children with an alcoholic?

Don’t waste the best years of your life with a walking disaster like this.

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A male reader, Code Warrior United States + , writes (16 May 2018):

Code Warrior agony auntSecond chances should be reserved for minor issues, not major issues. I would tell him the reason you're breaking up with him is because he's not in control of his drinking. When he tells you that he'll get it under control, tell him that's commendable, but he needs to do it for him, not for you, because you're not going to be involved with him anymore.

Don't get sucked into an emotional scene. Say your peace calmly and then leave. He'll be upset, but that's the way it has to be. Wish him well and tell him that someone will benefit when he gets it under control, but that someone won't be you because you won't ever trust that he has truly overcome it.

Good luck and God bless.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 May 2018):

I've just read the title of your post - the question - and not the whole post. Why? Because I don't need any additional information, justifications... to give you an answer.



You'd be entering a co-dependant relationship where you're either be his enabler (and miserable) or try to be his savior (and still be miserable).

He has to seek professional help.

He's not your husband of 15 years who suddenly developed a drinking problem and needs your support to end it.

(ok, I did read your post ;)

You had been together for 11 months and you saw enough.

I understand that you want to find a partner, but I also know that no healthy person would ever be with an alcoholic.

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A female reader, femmenoir Australia +, writes (16 May 2018):

femmenoir agony auntI can so relate to you & your situation, because i've been there, so here goes.............

Do NOT take this guy back, because UNLESS he's in the midst of seeking serious treatment for his drinking problem, then guess what?

He will NEVER change and if you were forgiving/naive enough to take him back, you would wish you'd never, ever given him that second chance.

When somebody is "hooked and addicted" to "their" alcohol, there really is very little you can do & actually, any interference on the part of the non-drinker, will only add fuel to fire for the drinker.

A non drinker and a heavy drinker will never be able to meet halfway or even sort things out, not unless the drinker, ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THEY'VE A DRINKING PROBLEM AND CHOOSES TO SEEK HELP (OF THEIR OWN ACCORD).

You may care about him, but what's the point sharing your life and your future with a man who could potentially give you major headaches, worry, stress and hell.

You obviously cannot handle his behaviours and most of us feel the same way, when it comes to heavy or uncontrollable drinking, so why place yourself back in that stressful position again?

It's not worth it.

Your ex bf requires professional help and you are not equipped to be dealing with his issue.

Good luck!

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (16 May 2018):

Honeypie agony auntNo, I wouldn't give him a second chance. Not now. Why? Because NOTHING has changed.

He might SAY that he can't forgive himself for letting it go to this point but has he ACTUALLY taken ANY steps to work on it? To seek help? As it is CLEARLY not something he can get under control on his own.

If he gets SO drunk that he can't even remember an argument the next day or that he has CAREFULLY planned "event" (his birthday) then he has a serious issue whether he agrees with it or not. He will NOT just stop at ONE or TWO drinks. Which means he NEED to NOT drink at all and perhaps not be around people who do.

isn't actively seek help in the next few months, NOTHING will change. It might actually get worse.

So whole I get that you care for him, his lack of control when it comes to alcohol is just not something you should "forgive" or "forget" about. And I also get that it's still so raw after only a couple of days but don't go back to him thinking "but he said he would change or felt bad".. Sure he felt bad... but UNLESS those words are followed up by ACTIONS they are worthless!

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A male reader, Garbo United States +, writes (16 May 2018):

Garbo agony auntYou describe a lot about your feelings about drinking. Alcoholics of any kind rarely care about your feelings, especially if they stand in the way of them getting drunk. You felt that when he told you off not to dictate his life - meaning stand apart from his drinking. Therefore, you should stay away from his drinking because there is no evidence of any substantial length that shows that he is able not to drink.

Going back to him would simply validate his habit and he will continue his old ways. It gets worse as you get older and no amount of words will sway him to stop drinking. Now that you are no longer with him, continue that way and move on in life so he can deal with his own problem.

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A female reader, mystiquek United States + , writes (16 May 2018):

mystiquek agony auntIf I were you I'd stay far away from this man. If he can't control his drinking then he's either an alcoholic or turning into one. I was married to a man that became an alcoholic. He barely even drank when we married (maybe 1 beer when we had pizza). I had no idea what was in store for me down the road, it happened after his dad passed away. Life with an alcoholic is hell, especially if they are the abusive type. I wouldn't wish that life on ANYONE. They will ruin your life, your children's life and all they care about is the booze.

If I had known what my future held, I NEVER would have gotten involved with the man. I didn't know but YOU already know he has a problem. RUN..far away and don't look back.

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