I have grown out of the ‘bar scene’ in the past year but my boyfriend of 3 years hasn’t as much. I don’t think he has a problem with alcohol, but I’m starting to worry that someday he will. He tells me everything is fine but I can’t get him to understand how concerned I am about his health and how he spends all the money. What can I do to make him understand? I can’t see myself living like this forever, constantly worrying about his life while still trying to live a healthy live myself. I love him and we have discussed our future together, but I can’t see myself with someone forever who abuses alcohol like he does. As much as I think he has just not grown out of it yet, I worry that maybe he never will.
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There are two issues here. One of them is alcohol and drug use on the part of your boyfriend, and the other is whether he is mature and emotionally sound enough to be able to really make a commitment to a relationship with you. In reading your note, it seems to me that the worries over his partying are really a subset of your worries over whether he will committ to a relationship with you. Men do tend to grow up in this way slower than their female peers, so it is not unusual that you should be emerging into an adult way of thinking faster than he is. Keep in mind that you cannot control his decisions, but you can control your own decisions.
I recommend that you tell him the following and see how he responds: That you love him. That you want to make a life with him. That you want him to make a commitment to you so that you can justify a similar commitment back for him. That his drinking is troubling to you and incompatible with your comfort. That you would like him to drink less (specify how much less you’ll be okay with). That you are not wanting to make any sort of ultimatum, but that you won’t wait around forever for him to figure out if he wants the same things you do. That if he does want a life with you he will have to reduce his drinking (and similarly, reduce his investment in a single lifestyle composed of hanging out in bars). That if it becomes clear that he doesn’t want a commitment with you, you’ll figure it out eventually and will leave him when you can take no more. I’m not suggesting that you hit him over the head with this. All this should be said in a loving way, but your firmness should come through. You are making him an invitation and you won’t wait for him all your life to decide whether to accept.