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missjena's avatar

What would you do if your in love with an alcoholic?

Asked by missjena (910points) May 7th, 2009

My mother says it is the worst thing to get involved with an alcoholic (she knows from experience). But I am in love with him. I guess its over because life with an alcoholic is hurtful and can probably ruin your life. I heard there is no cure either. How do I make him want to stop drinking? I know its not possible right?

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43 Answers

Dog's avatar

First rule in a relationship is that you cannot change someone else.
Nor can you make someone else want to change.

Love does not change anyone regardless of what you see in the movies.

For best results going into a relationship both parties should be free of addictions.

For the sake of argument ask yourself honestly WHY you are attracted to him.
Of all the multitude of guys on the planet why are you choosing one with a major addiction?

Do you want to feel needed?
Do you want to be his savior?

Please do not tether yourself to this as both of the above are illusions.
You are setting yourself up for heartbreak.

If you do hook up with him please do not have children with him unless he is sober for at least 5 years first.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I lived with one for several years, I loved him and he loved me but his self destructiveness started to affect me and I walked away. An alcoholic has to work hard on their own. Love helps them, support helps them but in the end they have to help themselves and so many things get affected by the drinking, too much I don’t want to type here. I suggest you go to a few AA or NA meetings in your town, look them up online and attend to listen to other people’s stories and you’ll get a feel for what you might be in for, the good and the bad. Alcoholism never goes away.

lunabean's avatar

get him into rehab, definitely. punch him in his face and drag him there if he won’t go on his own.

SuperMouse's avatar

You cannot make him want to stop drinking. That is completely and totally on him. Alcoholism is a disease, a scary, insidious, difficult disease. You are not the cause of his drinking, and you cannot be the cure for his drinking. I second @hungryhungryhortence, go to an AA meeting or visit an Al Anon meeting. If you want to stay with this man you have a tough road ahead of you, and unless he becomes committed to sobriety, it is certain to be a long, painful, destructive road.

Also, @Dog‘s response, brings up some excellent questions for you to ask yourself.

cak's avatar

Scary question mixed in there, “How do I make him want to stop drinking? Answer: You don’t get him to stop.

It’s already been said, before; however, since I’m fairly certain your mother has told you the same, you cannot make them stop drinking. You cannot fix a drunk and you can’t take away the pain. That person has to hit rock bottom, then and only then….and only if the person truly wants help, can they really get help – think rehab.

My question is how did you fall in love with an alcoholic? A lot of alcoholics are masterful liars and manipulators. How do you know that you met the “real” person?

Be friends with this person, don’t give your heart. Don’t try to save him, you can’t. If that is part of your intentions, walk away…now.

Listen to those that posted above me. They are all very wise.

missjena's avatar

So basically I shouldnt even really try to have a relationship with him. Its too bad because hes such an amazing, loyal, smart, sensitive, etc guy.

cak's avatar

@facade – really? you can’t be serious? “Punch him in the face and drag him there if he won’t go on his own?” So, now he gets a shiner and to be in a place where he didn’t want to be in the first place? Great. He’ll just leave and be in more pain.

cak's avatar

@missjena – It’s speaks volumes of your wonderful soul that you want to stand by this person, and none of us are being mean – it’s just very difficult and can be very emotionally painful and emotionally draining to have a relationship – any kind of relationship with an alcoholic.

edited to fix: you to your

missjena's avatar

@cak You asked how did I fall in love with an alcoholic? Well we dated 8 years ago we were eachothers high school sweetheart. We were in love and never forgot about eachother. He was not an alcoholic then he just started drink these past 2 years. We stopped talking for 8 years and now we are hanging out again. Im shocked hes an alcoholic to be honest. He is the opposite of what you said cak he is one of the best men I have ever met. Its a real shame.

missjena's avatar

Is there a cure for an alcoholic? haha stupid question right?

rooeytoo's avatar

Al-anon is a good start. I wouldn’t go to AA unless you have a drinking problem as well. But al-anon is for people who have family or relationships with alcoholics, they will help you help yourself, because you can’t help him. Remember the 3 c’s, you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you definitely can’t cure it. You can only work on yourself.

cak's avatar

@missjena – Oh, I am so sorry. You know, he may just pull it together, but it’s a lifelong battle. The chance for relapse is very high. He needs to find out the source of his pain/ problem and work from there…usually they are burying that pain so deep, it takes a lot of time to really get to the true source of the problem.

missjena's avatar

Im really bummed about this. He would have been perfect for me. Its been 8 years and out of all things this is the worst news about him I have heard. IDk

chyna's avatar

@missjena The above people speak from experience of some kind and just don’t want you to get your heart broken. There is no cure for an alcoholic. Alcoholics say “I am an alcoholic” even if they have been clean for 20 years, because at any given time, they can lapse. Has he ever been drunk in front of you? How does he act when drinking? Is this the kind of actions you can live with? you don’t have to answer me, just tell yourself these answers. Good luck and you are very lucky to have a mother who cares.

missjena's avatar

My dad was an alcoholic and hasnt picked up in like 30 yhears and never things about drinking, ever. I think this is rare. He is a functioning alcoholic my ex boyfriend but it doesnt matter. Im not trying to make excuses for him but we could of had something really amazing I know it.

Dog's avatar

@missjena He does sound awesome. Perhaps if you honestly tell him all that you love about him and then tell him why you cannot have a relationship with him (the drinking) he will be motivated to change. The key here though is that you do not have a relationship unless he is sober for a year for starts.

You deserve to protect yourself. If you are honest with him in this way it can truely be the best way to motivate him. If he cannot change in order to start a relationship with you chances are he would not be able to change once he was with you.

Either way you win- if he changes and gets healthy and sober WIN
He does not but you have not gotten mired into a relationship with him you WIN.

I would love to believe he will do it for the chance to be with you.

1em56's avatar

if they really love you they would try to quit

SuperMouse's avatar

As a recovering alcoholic I can tell you that even though staying sober can be tough, it can be done. Just think long and hard before you jump in and try to save this guy because trying to save an alcoholic is kind of like herding cats – it takes tons and tons of effort and it is all but impossible. He does sound like a great guy, a great guy who is carrying around a lot of pain and lots and lots of baggage.

I wish I could give @cak 50 great answers for this: Be friends with this person, don’t give your heart. Don’t try to save him, you can’t. If that is part of your intentions, walk away…now. It is a truth that you are going to have to accept.

@Dog, brilliant, brilliant post. I’d give that one 50 great answers too if I could.

This thread is full of great information and lots of food for thought for you.

missjena's avatar

@super your saying to walk away and agreeing with cat? So alcoholics should be single and stay single for the rest of their life? I’m just trying to understand what you mean.

SuperMouse's avatar

@missjena I’m not saying walk away. I’m just saying that you can’t take responsibility for his sobriety. No matter how much you love him and want him to stay sober, that is completely and totally out of your hands. Love and good intentions are not enough to keep him sober.

Honestly, I think @Dog made the perfect suggestion. Support him in his quest to become sober, but don’t get seriously involved until he has a year of sobriety under his belt. Then he will be more stable and more ready for the work that it takes to be half of a loving, committed relationship.

I do agree with @cak that if you are going into this thinking you can save him you could be in for major disappointment and hurt down the road.

cak's avatar

@1em56 – Unfortunately, it’s just not that easy. It’s a matter of having the complete control to be able to just quit. Google and read some information on Alcoholism, there is a lot of information out there…enough to show you it’s not just something you can quit and move on – it’s way more serious than that.

Jeruba's avatar

The bad news: Darlin’, you can’t save him. You can’t make him stop drinking. You can’t give him an ultimatum or you will lose, even if it looks like a short-term win. With alcohol an active presence in his life, you will always come second because nothing comes between a junkie and his drug of choice. If he marries you, booze will be his mistress.

The good news: He can stop drinking. He can go to AA and work the program. He can learn how to live a reasonably happy life sober. If he wants that badly enough, he can choose to follow the steps. They work. People can stay sober for 10, 20, 30 years and more—sober for life—by changing how they think and by sticking close to what works.

Your man can do this, and he may make a wonderful husband for you.

BIG WARNING: Some people are not the same person sober that they were drunk, and some don’t want the same things. Some women think they want their guy to sober up and then find out he’s not as manageable as he used to be when he was guilty and sorry all the time, or not as exciting, or not as dangerous, or maybe just not as needy. And some men who think you’re beautiful when they’re in the bag see you differently when there’s no haze. You cannot predict what a relationship with Wonderful Guy But Drunk will be like when Wonderful Guy is no longer drunk. It might be heaven, but it’s a gamble.

Only you can decide if you love him enough to stand by him while he sobers up or live with him if he doesn’t. The potential for heartache is immense. But if he decides to take the path of sobriety, it will be a great gift and blessing for him to have the support of a woman who loves him.

You should talk to him about your concerns, and then see what he does. If you can give him some time, good. But if you can’t hack the challenges ahead, better split now.

SeventhSense's avatar

As a recovered alcoholic I can say if he’s actively working on his issues and not drinking, you have a shot if you can admit complete powerlessness over his drinking. If he is actively drinking I have only one suggestion-

hearkat's avatar

There are many wonderful responses here. I can only add my personal experience in confirming that the alcoholic/addict will only change if he or she wants it for him- or herself.

My ex was a beautiful person, but tormented from an abusive childhood with two alcoholic parents. He promised to quit many times, but never really tried. We dated for 4 years, got married and had our son. Before he was even 5, our son’s behavior changed, reflecting the tense situation in our home. I told my husband to get sober or get out… so he left. He adored our son, but still the alcohol had such a strong grip that he couldn’t quit. He became so unstable that I had to remove visitation. Less than 2 years later, he was dead from liver failure at the age of 39… our son was 7.

This is a cautionary tale for you. I can’t say that I wouldn’t do it over again… but I would do it differently. Al-Anon is a great resource to teach you how to detach and let this young man own his problems, so you hopefully won’t allow a co-dependency to develop. The fact that your father is an alcoholic is reason enough to question the underlying attraction, as previously suggested by others. It is admirable that you father has stayed sober for so long; however, there are often still certain behaviors that persist in the recovering alcoholic and the relationships they are in.

I suggest that you do some reflecting on yourself, your parents, their relationship, your relationship with each of them, and how you see parallels with your relationship with this guy. If you do pursue a relationship, make sure you have a conversation with him at a time when he had not been drinking, and set clear boundaries, and consistently stick to them. Good Luck!

Sariperana's avatar

You can only help those who want to help themselves!
If he/she wants your help, be there for them, be the strong one and help them.
If they dont, then the best thing to do is to walk away, no point in ruining two lives…

Darwin's avatar

I dated a very sweet and charming man for a few months. He was a successful banker and a brilliant person who shared many things in common with me.

But he was an alcoholic.

Eventually, I could see that nothing could force him to stop drinking. He had to decide that it was what he wanted and then he would have had to work very hard to do it. And he wasn’t willing to even try.

Within 6 months he lost his job. He found another one 150 miles away and moved there only to lose that job, too. About a year later he was dead from liver disease.

I still miss the person he was when he was sober, but he chose not to be that person.

I do recommend that you go to Al-Anon so you can learn what you can and cannot do to help someone you care about who is an addict and to help yourself. I also suggest that you tell him with love that until he has stopped drinking you cannot be with him, but that you wish him well. The one thing you can do is search out rehab programs for him in case he ever comes to you and asks for help. But you can’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do.

casheroo's avatar

I’m so sorry.
I’ve dated two men who have had alcoholic fathers, and the marriages failed because they would never get the help they needed to quit, not even try. It’s really sad.
I personally could never be with an alcoholic, I’ve never liked drinking and don’t like to be around it in excess. I dated one guy who was definitely an alcoholic, it was pretty sad. People who need to drink are difficult to love, and in my opinion, are too selfish to love.
Don’t let him ruin your life.

bright_eyes00's avatar

I just recently had a problem with this. but he wanted to quit. he saw what it was doing to him and what his family would do if they knew what he was doing so he decided to quit and did. you cant make him want to quit. he has to do it. maybe if you told him how it makes you feel. otherwise its all on him to improve his life.

dont let him drag you down though. your need to take care of him will only get worse and his dependence on your care will only enable him to drink more. be strong and i pray things work out for you

good luck

essieness's avatar

My dad was an alcoholic. While it was very painful to grow up in an atmosphere where my mother resented his vice, I stayed very in tune with who my father was as a person, outside of his alcoholism. Alcoholism is a disease just like any other. Unfortunately, alcoholics are more unlikely to submit to treatment than, say, cancer or AIDS patients. It’s the nature of the beast.

I can’t imagine being married to, or raising children with, an alcoholic, but I think that if you’re a strong enough woman to love him beyond his addiction, then go for it. Maybe you’re just what he needs to overcome this disease.

After my mom divorced my dad, his new wife (also his childhood sweetheart… long story) nurtured, rather than belittled him, through his disease. In the end, he never stopped drinking because he was truly physically addicted, but he ate good meals and was well cared for and loved. She realized that his true essence was fully separated from the disease of alcoholism, and she loved him through it. Even to his death.

An alcoholic is no different from a cancer patient or any other person dealing with a debilitating disease. They need to be loved and nurtured like any other. I wish you luck.

hearkat's avatar

@essieness: Yes, alcoholism is a disease… but unlike most cancers and other diseases, it affects the individual’s behaviors and decision-making skills. Even those whose alcoholism is genetic, rather than and acquired disease, can choose to fight it. If a diabetic (whether genetic or acquired disease) refused to moderate their dietary intake, they are choosing self-destructive behavior and that is painful and frustrating for those who love them to watch.

The “nurturing” your step-mother gave your father would be considered enabling by most people with knowledge of the disease. Again using the example of diabetes… if your father was a diabetic and he was craving a candy bar, and his wife said nothing as he ate it, or even provided it for him… is that truly loving and nurturing a person?

cdwccrn's avatar

Been there. I was married to a decent guy, except he was married to beer.
Run as fast as you can.

Blondesjon's avatar

Either start drinking yourself or, as stated above, leave. The only person who can make this choice is you.

Good luck.

maybe_KB's avatar

He MUST go to AA to get real treatment
If he denies that he needs help than you’re in a world of trouble lady.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

What @Jeruba says is true about there being a gamble on who your person will be if/once they stop drinking. The love they feel for you may have been based on fear, neediness, escape, punishment, all sorts of things. The best you can do if you care and you love is to encourage and support the person and then see where you stand, the rest is on them.

purplehaze44's avatar

I too fell madly in love with a functioning alcoholic….......he also fell madly in love with me…... but he loved drinking more….and after three years of pain and sorrow and a nervous breakdown I walked away. I wish I had of saved myself all the pain and stuck to my ultimatium either the drink or me….....instead of letting him back in my life when nothing had changed. Do not get involved with this man you will love again…......I am 51 and still walked away.

axfi's avatar

I randomly stumbled upon this question and it was like a sign from above, because i have been battling with the same issue. I broke up with my boyfriend for the second time a few months ago and have been struggling to move on. Things weren’t working out because we were bad at conflict resolution, which I ‘ve come to realize had to do , at some level, with his self proclaimed alcoholism; which he, for the most part, kept hidden, although not necessarily secret ,from me. So often, even four months after the fact, I want to crawl back to him and accept the tough road of having a relationship with someone with an addiction. Part of me has a hard time accepting he is an alcoholic since he wouldn’t drink around me, so it’s harder for reality to sink in. He is an amazing man and I truly love him but at the end of the day, I don’t have confidence in the two of us together and it’s the alcoholism that makes me feel this way. So, my advice to you is stay away. Think hard about if this is the type of man you want to have as the father of your children and husband to you. Life is hard enough to have to battle with somone else’s addiction. If he can sober up on his own, and you still feel strongly towards him , then maybe there’s a chance! good luck

ItsAHabit's avatar

Please go back and read Dog’s advice (the very first answer), which is excellent. If someone is already married to an alcoholic (or is one), practical advice and suggestions are found at

R1's avatar

I’m in love with an alcoholic. We met when he was 9 months sober and moved in together too soon (3 months). He relapsed within 3 days of living together so I sent him back to sober living. We took several months apart (not living together) and our relationship is stronger than ever now. I know he had many relapses but I feel that he is strong enough to stay sober. It’s scary to surrender but like your man, he’s amazing, loyal, sensitive and we are building a family unit!

guzizan's avatar

My ex-boyfriend was an alcoholic. Good looking, affectionate, interested in my interests, artistic, creative…etc. But he was also, and this stuff became more prevalent as time passed, manipulative, abusive, aggressive and irrational. When my mum was ill (she subsequently died) he binged and burnt the carpet, vomited on himself, was incontinent and had fits. He ruined weddings and would turn up to my friend’s parties and embarrass me. I lost a lot of friends because of him. He beat up his father, smashed up his mother’s house. When my mum was ill he would not comfort me or offer any affection or consolation, and this was because actually he was with me because I was his support and carer and helper. He was not strong enough to be able to offer anything to me at all. He is now 38 and has pancreatitis and epilepsy. He was very bright but isn’t any longer. I haven’t been able to meet anyone else because the situation was traumatic and I don’t trust men (I don’t trust myself). I have lost confidence because I did love the person he pretended to be (I still don’t know how much was a pretense) and to be open hearted with someone when they don’t care about you is hurtful. And despite what he said, the things he did demonstrated he didn’t care. Drink comes first. Drink is the only way an alcoholic can manage. Drink is their everything. You will never be more important. Get out before you’re too involved. It is a more destructive situation that I could ever have envisaged and it damaged me. Don’t screw up your future for someone else. Pick a guy that will help you get to where you want to go and love and support you. He is a dysfunctional choice. A self destructive choice on your part. Think about yourself and avoid him.

inbamb's avatar

My boyfriend says alcohol is the only thing that never leaves him, it’s his security blanket, he can’t stop drinking. Those were his words. He suffered severe trama as a child caused by his mom and step dad. He’s very insecure and jealous, needy and scares me when drunk. I love him and he’s a great guy when not drinking, but I have 3 children and I won’t allow them to grow up in a home with an alcoholic. I love him but I love my kids more. My father was one and he scared me, that’s probably why I’m a little more sensitive about how it might affect my kids. Our relationship has been on off on off for about 7 years now. Why the ‘off’ times? Alcohol. He’s not close to anyone but me. Horrible relationship with family members. They’re scared to invite him to family functions, I’m sure. He’s been to jail, begged, lied, cheated, manipulated, hidden alcohol, tried to get me to drink so that he could keep drinking, says I’m trying to control him. I love him but I can’t be with him. I can’t trust him because he doesn’t know what he’s doing when he’s drinking and he makes horrible choices. It hurts me because without alcohol we could have had everything I always wanted in a relationship. I have to accept that I will never have that with him. The man I love is sick and he will continue to drink because of the illusion that it eases his pain. I think he sees what it destroys but it’s not enough to make him quit drinking.

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kimberlyk's avatar

Please don’t spend one more precious moment of your life trying to fix an alcoholic. If you’re reading this I am going to have to assume that much like myself, you’re deeply in love and believe that you have a future together, just as soon as…

Stop. Breathe. Hear me.

You are not their priority. I’ve no doubt that there have been moments when you were made to feel as though you were, maybe even months or years. Then they slipped up. That’s what you called it, or something similar. It was a one time thing. It won’t happen again. You whole heartedly believe that to be true.

It’s not true.

There are few things more intoxicating than someone professing their undying love and devotion and meaning it. An alcoholic throwing focus onto you can feel like the be all end all of romance.

You know what’s more intoxicating? That moment that your world falls apart because your partner has chosen alcohol over you. Obviously not for you, but for them, it was. And, it will be the next time as well.

An alcoholic does not make their own family, friends or even themselves a priority. Don’t be lulled into thinking that you are one.

If you’re like me, you’re right at this moment believing you are the exception. I get it. I share with you only to try and save you the time wasted and total heartache in discovering that you are not.

There are many different levels of being involved with an alcoholic and they all have the same outcome. There are no exceptions. Move on now.

You are not going to change their priorities. You are not ever going to be a hard line priority. You will be taken for granted. Your faith is misplaced. Your love will be unreturned and you will be deeply hurt.

Again, if you’re anything like me, you’re making excuses for yourself and your alcoholic right now. You might even be a little mad.

That’s nothing compared to how upset you’re going to be down the road. Get out now. Quit wasting your precious time, your love, your faith, your everything. There’s someone out there that will meet you halfway. Your alcoholic will not. Ever.

Your undying love is not enough in this scenario, but in any other it would be. Leave this relationship now. Someone is searching for your kind of love right now. Someone who will meet you halfway and appreciate all that you are.

Don’t waste another moment of your precious love and time. Move on.

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