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peanutmilk's avatar

How can I deal with my feelings for an alcoholic? Does he even care? How do I move on?

Asked by peanutmilk (37 points ) July 8th, 2011

I have feelings for my friend who is an alcoholic. We’ve been good friends for about half a year. Recently he started a relationship with someone who lives in another city. We are in a similar circle of friends, and he has brought her around, but when she isn’t around he is hanging off of me or around me. I try to extricate myself from him, but he pulls me back in. It’s like an addiction. Ultimately it makes me feel badly because he is with someone else, but then again, I don’t want to be in a relationship with an alcoholic anyways, and this girl doesn’t know him very well. I am needing some guidance on what to do, and am wondering if I should go to Al-Anon. I also wonder if he has feelings for me or not. Is this something alcoholics do often?

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30 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Welcome to Fluther!

First, how do you know that he is an alcoholic? I know many people that drink, but they aren’t alcoholics. Secondly, alcohol affects people in many different ways. From the description, he is just being overly friendly and not necessarily flirtatious.

If you don’t want to be in a more personal relationship with this person, the only advice I can offer is to give it more distance than you already are doing. If you still want to be his pal, then talk to him about your concerns when he hasn’t been drinking. Keep in mind that this would be unsolicited advice and may be waved away or worse. Then again, it might be a wake-up call.

The main thing to understand is that you cannot change someone else’s behavior.

peanutmilk's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I mean, I know he is an alcoholic because he is always drinking all of the time, and has lost his job, his place, and he has a kid who he doesn’t take care of at all. We’ve talked about his problem before many times also. He said, “I’m off drinking while my daughter is at home.”
We’ve had a semi-romantic friendship. It seems a little flirtatious when someone pulls their penis out in front of you and starts taking a leak right there so you can see. I know I can only change my own behavior, by not being an enabler and devaluing myself…still, it is really difficult. I don’t want to stop hanging out with my other friends.

gailcalled's avatar

Are you talking about this guy (whom you called “Joshua” a month ago)? If so, you have to remember that you are in charge of you. “He pulls me back in.” That is really “I allow him, in spite of my better judgement, to pull me back in.”

flo's avatar

@peanutmilk I hope you and your other friends can help your friend by telling him that you can’t be around him anymore. But” It seems a little flirtatious when someone pulls their penis out in front of you and starts taking a leak right there so you can see.” Are you sure that is flirting?

peanutmilk's avatar

@gailcalled @flo truth from both of you. haven’t talked much to my other friends about it though.

john65pennington's avatar

My aunt married not one, but three alcoholics. Its like she was drawn to them like a magnet. The third one finally died. Alcohol killed all three. She is now left with no one.

You are letting this happen, yourself. You could have dumped this person a long time ago.

Be strong and tell him to get lost.

You will be a better person for it and your friend will also thank you.

bkcunningham's avatar

Sounds like he is using you for booty-call or as a designated driver or for entertainment or company when he’s lonely or whatever. It just sounds like he is using you to me. Have you been exposed to alcholics in your life @peanutmilk? I know it is just a small glimpse into your world, but your actions sound like enabling behavior. Perhaps Al-Anon wouldn’t hurt, it might actually help you deal with some of your own issues. It isn’t meant to and never will help you deal with someone else though and “help” them or make them change. Good luck.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thank you for the additional information. You have assessed this person to be an alcoholic by their behaviors and current lifestyle. You feel that he is like your own personal addiction. There is a certain draw to him, even though you feel it isn’t in your best interest. This seems like a case where you need to listen to your mind and gut and not your heart.

It doesn’t mean that you cannot be friends, but why in the world would you want to take this platonic friendship to the next level when he has a girlfriend and only flirts with you when she is not around? And honestly, if you consider a man peeing in front of you flirtatious…well, I really have no idea how to respond to that.

flo's avatar

Listen to your instinct, ”...and devaluing myself…” part.

peanutmilk's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I don’t know, unfortunately…

flo's avatar

@peanutmilk the other major thing, he has a girlfriend. That is a biggie.

Bellatrix's avatar

@peanutmilk my sister was an alcoholic. It is such a destructive disease and it of course impairs people’s judgement skills. You didn’t say whether you were involved with your friend in a sexual way but I got the sense you could be.

I think you need to put your friends obvious problems to one side for a moment and consider why you are allowing this person to remain in your life. That is the real question here. Are you attracted to him? Do you want more from him? Are you lonely and you like the attention? There is a reason you let him come around. Figure that out and you will know what to do about him.

Personally, I would tread carefully though and would put distance between you and him. Alcoholism is a horrible disease and you can’t stop him drinking. Join Al-Anon if you feel that will help you break this cycle for sure.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Does he care about you? He could but is it any good for you? Lots of people love and care about each other but decide not to be together for the greater good- meaning the one person who isn’t all screwed up is allowed to feel it’s ok to not be involved with the screw up.

Yes, go to Al-Anon or check out online AA and NA support groups. You are devaluing him if you choose to put yourself first. A person who neglects their own child has nothing to give you.

You’re not required to be foolish in order to prove you’re a friend to a foolish person.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Edit to above: You are NOT devaluing him (or the friendship) if you choose to put yourself first.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, go to Al-Anon.

You need to avoid him at all costs.

Kardamom's avatar

I’m afraid you are headed for a very painful situation if you allow yourself to become too emotionally involved with him. Right now, because he has a real girlfriend it looks like you are on the verge of becoming the “Friends With Benefits” girl and those situations rarely end up being good for anyone. If you become his FWB’s girl, then you will be an accomplice to his cheating on the real girlfriend.

But like everyone is asking, why on earth would you want to be the real girlfriend (or eventual wife) of a person who’s alcoholism is so severe that it has caused him to lose his place and his job and he drinks all of the time??? I’m guessing that he drinks and drives too. But even if he doesn’t, drinkin all the time puts everyone around him in potential danger.

You are probably a very nice woman, but you are probably also kind of a doormat and one of those people who still believe that you can “fix” a wounded, messed up man. You can’t. Only he can make the decision, for himself, to get help and to try to overcome his addictions.

I think that part of this problem is the simple fact that he flirts with you, and you already like him and it makes you feel good to think that he likes you. But you still have to remember that this fellow has some serious problems, and YOU can’t fix him. But you can be a friend, but back off a little bit so you don’t end up as the FWB’s girl. Just let him know that you care about him, but you are very worried and you would like him to get into some type of alcoholic treatment program such as AA, and that you, for your own benefit, are going to try out Al-Anon. He may or may not be willing (or even admit that he’s an alcoholic) to get help. If he is, then you can help him by taking him to the meeting, or finding out where the local chapter of AA is located. But other than that, you cannot fix him or change him.

Even if he does get help, and starts tomorrow, it would not be in your best interest to get involved with him until he has been clean and sober for at least a year, and fixes the other probles in his life. Don’t let him use you as a fun crutch or as a booty call girl or anything else that puts you in a position where you are likely to get screwed over.

In the meantime, you might want to get some short term therapy to figure out why you would even allow yourself to consider getting involved with this fellow, who has very serious problems. Every one of us has been attracted to people that we know are not good mate material for us. Some of us have had to learn the hard way, that it is best to find a place deep within ourselves to gain strength and avoid giving into temptation. We’re trying to help you to gain that strength now and not to have to go digging for it later, when you’re left heartbroken.

Unfortunately alcoholics tend to leave a trail of tears in their wake. There are always anecdotal stories about how this or that alcoholic husband or boyfriend turned out just fine and everyone lived happily ever after, but the opposite, is usually the case, the circumstances and the players are just different. It’s not worth the potential pain to yourself, to go down that road.

Coloma's avatar

Excellent advice from all.
Please listen to the wise elders of this tribe my darling.
Do you not feel you deserve a guy with his act together?

If not, buckle up, it’s going to be a long, bumpy ride with more than a few crashes.

rooeytoo's avatar

Al-anon is definitely the place to be. If you don’t feel at home at the first meeting you attend, do not be deterred. All meetings are different and some feel like home and some don’t. When you find one that fits, it is the best place in the world to be.

peanutmilk's avatar

@Bellatrix I am definitely very attracted to him. I think that’s the main problem for me. I also like the attention. I am trying really hard to concentrate on myself and not like anyone at all. It’s misleading. These are definitely reasons, and all I can figure out is that I can’t be around him.

peanutmilk's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Thank you. Yes, that statement seems really true to me. It’s weird, I’ve been doing really well, and then suddenly I got sucked back in. I can’t let that happen again…

peanutmilk's avatar

@Kardamom Thank you for your honesty. That’s really hard to hear, but I know it’s true. There have been opportunities, before he was seeing this girl, for us to hook up. I knew better though, but I guess now that I see him with another girl, it makes me jealous. It’s unhealthy behavior, and deep down I know that despite caring about him, he isn’t any good because of his problems. I’ve known that all along…

You are certainly right about being the FWB. I don’t want that at all, and it’s great to put that into perspective.

peanutmilk's avatar

@bkcunningham I do realize now that I was hoping he would change, but now I see that wasn’t going to happen. Yes, you’re right, he’s using me as some sort of crutch. I feel he needs me as one of the stable and enabling people in his life. I like his company, because he’s really fun to hang out with, but it’s not durable, it’s momentary. I think he genuinely likes me, but he knows that I know that he could never fulfill the kind of relationship I want. This girl barely knows him.

Anyways, I only hope to change myself at this point…I am actually moving from my location to try to remove and distance myself more!

peanutmilk's avatar

@Coloma Hey Coloma! Thank you. Yes, I hope to find and deserve a good solid guy. I am moving from my current location (not completely away), and am hoping that I will be happier and things will calm down in my life. I looked at this list of things at Al-Anon, and one thing was if you feel bored without some craziness in your life. I am aware of it, so I hope to overcome the fear of complacency.

peanutmilk's avatar

@rooeytoo How can I overcome being nervous about going to a meeting? ugh…

peanutmilk's avatar

@bkcunningham Also, my parents were alcoholics when I was growing up. It’s not something I like to talk about. My Mom has been very sober for a long time, but my Dad can be quite a wine-o still.

nebule's avatar

Having been in a relationship with an alcoholic for four years I say with every part of me that it can only end in tears – yours…whilst he is still drinking. And you won’t change him or save him, he has to do that himself. Save yourself hun xxx

rooeytoo's avatar

@peanutmilk – you know that Nike ad, says “Just do it!” and that is what you must do. A good meeting feels like home each time you go. People all in the same boat. They understand why you feel the way you do. They won’t tell you how to stop feeling that way, they will tell you their experience, strength and hope. They will tell you what they did and how they did it. Then you decide what you want to do with your life. Many decide (although I could never understand it) to stay with their drunk, others move on. That is the place to figure out what you should/must be doing for you and your life.

Now watch my lips, just do it! :-)

bkcunningham's avatar

@peanutmilk, since you have Internet and a computer, give this a try: http://www.ola-is.org/

Really, take care of yourself. When you make a move to look after yourself, things will start falling into place in your life.

Kardamom's avatar

@peanutmilk No one said you had to go to the Al-anon meeting by yourself, either. I would suggest taking a close girlfriend with you the first time or two that you go. Then, that person would be able to have a better idea of what you are going through and could serve as a help mate when you are feeling especially vulnerable. Good luck to you, dear.

And don’t forget that we’re always here to lend moral support when you have a weak moment. : )

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