My ex enjoyed drinking a little too much, and as a result, alcohol was almost always apart of anything we did together, from evenings at home to big nights on the town. Over time, he clearly developed an alcohol dependency, but I didn’t realize I had an issue as well.
Alcohol was a big part of our dynamic from the very first hookup. We met out at a bar with friends and got pretty wasted, and our first date and subsequent hookup were after a post-work happy hour bar hop. Although I definitely had some good times with him, I sometimes wonder if these are booze-laced memories and they just seem like good memories because we were drunk.
What I thought was social drinking became habitual drinking. My ex and I drank at dinner, made plans to go out with friends, frequented restaurants and were a super fun couple—at least I thought so. But I noticed that as time went on, we rarely went a day without alcohol being in our lives in some way. Sadly, I only noticed because my bank account was taking a beating, not because it was clearly mentally and emotionally unhealthy.
My friends expressed concern multiple times about his drinking but I shrugged them off. Usually, their concerns stemmed from nights out where he ended up crying uncontrollably in a heap, or after starting some kind of altercation with someone at a bar or even me. Sometimes at parties, he would just drink and sit silently while the rest of us socialized. He just wasn’t a fun drunk and it was a huge red flag. Still, I didn’t want to think he had a problem because it would mess up my entire social calendar, and I loved socializing and going out.
Then they started expressing concern about me, but I still wouldn’t listen. Pretty soon the concerns about my boyfriend turned into concerns about me. I was gaining noticeable weight, I wasn’t doing the things that I liked to do as much (like working out, for example), and I seemed much less motivated and productive than I had been in the past. They linked it to the drinking and going out but I didn’t want to hear it. Looking back, they were totally on the money.
Once he lost his job, the drinking became more noticeable. Since he was home a lot, he was drinking during the daytime and he turned into a lazier, more depressed version of the person he became sometimes when he drank. I was empathetic to him because I understood that he was feeling horrible about losing his job, but it became clear to me that losing his job exposed an underlying problem.
His problem seemed more like a coping mechanism and mine became a routine. I’ve never been one to turn to alcohol when I’m feeling down. I rarely drink alone; I’m much more of a social drinker. While I didn’t have what looks like a traditional dependency, alcohol quickly became apart of my everyday routine because of the frequency we drank as a couple or went out with friends. Since we lived together too, it was literally every day. As long as I was drinking with at least one other person, I considered it to be social. Obviously now I know better.
We were super awkward together when sober. Since we drank so much together, we were pretty awkward together when we were sober. We didn’t even have chemistry. It was like the alcohol made us mesh in a way that we could never achieve without it. I felt it all the time but I tried burying my feelings because I didn’t want to face the music and admit that we weren’t good for each other. I didn’t want another failed relationship. I can’t believe this lasted for over two years!
My dependency was really on the socializing. My alcohol dependency was directly linked to the buzz I felt by going out all of the time with friends and meeting new people. We lived in a city where happy hours and drinking late into the night were the norm… just not all of the time for everybody. To me, alcohol was apart of the experience, not the whole experience. Still, I realize now I was trying to fill a void.
Breaking up with him meant shedding my dependency. When we broke up, I lost all of the weight I gained, I started doing the things that I loved again, and I started saving more money because I wasn’t drinking every day of the week. I even started going to therapy to figure out why I felt compelled to socialize so much, why I couldn’t just be alone. It was really nice to shed all of that and start over again.
All the signs were there, I just refused to read them. Sometimes people come into your life to teach you some valuable lessons. Two valuable thinhs I learned are the importance of listening to your friends when they show concern for you and the importance of paying attention to and examining the quality of your life. Had I done that earlier, I probably would have ended the relationship earlier too.
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