Being in a relationship with an alcoholic is perhaps the second worst thing after being an alcoholic yourself. It seems you are dealing with a person with two faces, who when sober, seems genuinely repentant but when under the influence of alcohol, is a stranger giving way to self-pity, denial or even aggression. So if you have just found out that the person you are dating is an alcoholic or your partner has become one, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Proceed with caution
The first thing to be said about dating an alcoholic is that don’t start if you are not doing it now. You may think that there is a difference between living with an alcoholic partner and merely dating one casually. But even the latter is full of difficulties and once the charm of novelty has worn off, you will find yourself reeling with the confusion, embarrassment and stress of being with a girl or guy who has no control over his/her drinking habits. You might think you can handle your lover's alcoholic nature in a casual relationship, but after a period of time, you'll realize that it will only bring you down. Above all don’t be moved by pity or a missionary feeling for the alcoholic, thinking that he/she only needs your love and care to kick the bottle. There is nothing to be done about a person who simply doesn't want to change. And, even if your partner does want to change, it's going to take a big handle on maturity and determination for this to even happen in the first place.
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Identify the problem
However in order to know whether your date is indeed an alcoholic, you will have to be able to identify the symptoms. There is a distinct difference between someone who just enjoys his/her drinks and someone who is addicted to alcohol. The former likes to party, even party hard but does not lose control of his/her sense. The latter on the other hand will drink so much that he/she is likely to pass out, throw up or fall into a stupor. Among the earliest signs which indicate that you might be dating an alcoholic is that you always seem to meet in a bar and there is a lot of alcohol involved in your dates. Another indicator that someone has a problem with alcohol is if they can't just have a drink or two. If they have to actually keep drinking until the point of inebriation and beyond. If you're in a relationship with someone who's always drinking, drunk or drained from drinking the night before, chances are they have a problem with alcohol. If you are living with such partner, you will be able to identify definite behavioral changes at home and at the workplace. Going through unexplained mood swings and becoming too boisterous or argumentative when your partner’s personality is actually the opposite are some of the obvious signs of alcoholism. At the workplace your partner’s co-workers may express wonder at his or her increasing tardiness and absenteeism while on road your spouse may get arrested for driving offences.
Decide what to do
Once you have recognized the symptoms that confirm that your date has a drinking problem, there are two things you can do. If you have just started seeing this person, you can move away. However if you have been dating him/her for some time and this problem has emerged during your relationship, you may not want to end it immediately. If you love this person and want to help him/her as much as your relationship, realize that you are taking on a very big challenge.
Read up as much as you can about alcoholism. This will not only help you understand better the causes and circumstances which draw people to alcoholism but also make you aware about the various ways to help your partner conquer his or her addiction. Even if your attempts are not successful, you would know where to seek help for yourself as well as for your partner.
Talk to him/her
If you are lucky enough to diagnose your partner’s drinking problem in the earlier stages, then you have a fair chance of making him/her realize of where he/she is headed for. Choose a time when your partner is sober and talk about how their alcoholism is affecting you and your relationship. Tell your partner how you feel when he or she loses control over their behavior and how the addiction has consequences for the relationship as a whole. If your partner still has some control over his or her drinking habit, this may act as a wakeup call and motivate them to combat the problem. However make sure that your partner is sober when you speak to him or her, so that they register the significance of your words.
Be careful how you speak
It is extremely important to adopt the right tone of voice and the right kind of words when talking to your partner about his/her drinking problem. This is because the way you bring up the matter of his/her alcoholism is going to determine their response. No amount of nagging and complaining will make them realize that what they are doing is affecting their well-being and yours as well. Rather approach the matter in a calm and even manner and hope that your partner can appreciate your point.
If you have decided to stick it out with your alcoholic partner, it is extremely important that you set boundaries for his/her behavior. Talk to your partner when he/she is sober and gently but firmly tell them that there are certain behaviors that you will not simply tolerate. Anything that embarrasses you, puts you in danger or potential trouble with the law is strictly off-limits. The easiest way alcoholics get away time and again with their addiction is to make others, particularly their partners, feel sorry for them.
In end it is upto your partner to want to change for the better. No amount of love or tears on your part will convince a confirmed alcoholic to give up the addiction. Trying to help an unwilling alcoholic will only enable them to fall further into their alcoholic abyss. What you can do at the most is to gather information about de-addiction treatment and resources and then leave them to decide what they want to do with it.