My boyfriend becomes a horrible person when he drinks too much. What should I do?
We all know that life is a gift and that our time on this earth is short. However, none of us can deny that sometimes being alive can be tough and we need something to anaesthetise ourselves from the realities of the day-to-day. Some choose drugs, some meditate, some run, some competitively eat hot dogs. Alcohol is a common escape route. It’s legal, it’s available, and it doesn’t take much of it to relax the mind and soothe the soul, even if the next day’s inevitable hangover is the payoff. People have been boozing ever since people have existed.
However, when people regularly drink too much and undergo a personality transplant, we need to ask what issues they are seeking to run away from. As someone who used to regularly use alcohol as a crutch instead of dealing with my problems, I am sympathetic to the instinct to numb the pain. But there is a difference between drinking in joy and drinking in misery. A very wise Netflix Christmas movie once advised that we should never drink to feel better. Instead, we should drink to feel even better.
As a loving partner, I’m sure it is really difficult for you when your boyfriend behaves in this way after drinking. Doubly frustrating for you may be that alcohol’s effect on the memory means that your boyfriend can’t remember his behaviour or thinks that it wasn’t as bad as it actually was. It means that there’s no accountability. You may even feel that you are making too much of a fuss over something that isn’t that big of a deal. But it is a big deal. Your boyfriend is obviously struggling with something and he needs to address it before it spirals. Booze will not solve his problems.
However, and I say this with love and compassion, you cannot solve his problems either. It is absolutely not up to you to fix him. Only he can do that. All you can do is tell him (when he is sober) that you don’t like the way that he behaves when he is drunk. If his behaviour doesn’t change, you can choose to keep your distance when he drinks. If it still persists, you have to decide whether you can live with this reality from a distance, or whether this is a dealbreaker for you. If it is a dealbreaker, you must walk away. You owe yourself that kindness and you have the strength inside you to make that choice.
Stephen Chbosky said that we accept the love we think we deserve. Perhaps part of you believes that you deserve to be treated badly. But you deserve to be treated with compassion, kindness and respect. If your boyfriend is not willing to show you these things, you are absolutely better off alone. I wish you luck on the journey ahead.
More advice columns are available here.