Avatar universal

Am I enabling alcoholic boyfriend?

Hello everyone
I´ve been with my boyfriend for over a year though we´ve known each other for ever as he was my first boyfriend when we were teenagers (we´re in our 40s now). The thing is, I´ve only recently come to realize he is an alcoholic, I mean I knew he drinks a lot but because he leads a normal life I didn´t think it was that bad. When I read about how alcoholics behave (rants, picking fights, blackouts, blaming others irrationally) I could relate perfectly to that and now I´m very sad and also worried for him. Also his dad used to be an alcoholic but he stopped drinking when he developed diabetes.

I´ve been reading a lot on relationships with alcoholics and I understand that there isn´t much I can do to get him into rehab if he doesn´t want to. But I was wondering if I´m now his enabler and what I should do about that. So far I don´t think I´ve done anything to cover up his drinking, in fact he is quite open about it, but he does ask me to take care of his relationship with his mother with whom he had a serious conflict (she used to be an alcoholic too and I suspect she still drinks in secret). It´s like he won´t go to any family gathering if I´m not with him and I´m supposed to do all the talking with his mom.
On the other hand, whenever he started picking fights with me (when he had been drinking) I had the instinct to tell him I was going home because I didn´t want to get into a conflict, and then he calmed down and told me he was sorry, etc. But lately when this happens he tells me that if I leave the relationship is over. So then I feel pressured into staying, it really affects my emotions when he says that because he seems so determined and serious, like he hasn´t been drinking at all. I suppose he plays on my fear of abandonment, it´s getting worse every time.
Whenever he´s not drinking we have a great time, and I know we really love each other, this isn´t something I can walk away from.

I was wondering if anyone can give me any insights on how to deal with this relationship and how not to fall into these enabling behaviors, as I understand this will only make drinking easier for him.
9 Responses
Sort by: Helpful Oldest Newest
Avatar universal
You seem to realize (know) Your BoyFriend is an alcoholic and it seems Your only question is - are You enabling ?

Yes, yes You are.
You are letting Him control You - in my opnion - that is what enabling is.  Enabling is GIVING up Your control of Your own life (choices).  Your excuse to YourSelf is Your "fear of abandonment".  Well, most of Us do have fear of abondment 'issues' (for whatever reasons) but once We become Adults we must take responsiblity for Our CHOICES, not Our 'feelings'.  We learn  that We have free choice to make decisions about Our lives and Our Relationships regardless of Our childhood 'feelings'

You have every 'right' and 'reason' to say to Him "I choose not to live with an alcoholic.  You are not going to do this anymore or I'm gone".
It TRUELY is Your CHOICE how You are going to live Your life.  You can stay with Him, You can support Him in His effort but You do not have to stay with an alcoholic because You "fear abandonment".  Also, He is abusing You emotionally (threatening the relationship) and You are 'allowing' that by not making Your own ultimatums.
Otherwise, there is NOTHING You can do that will make His drinking better or worse, worse or better - as He has choices also - He's choosing to drink.  You can only choose to stay or go.

GoodLuck with Your choice
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Thank you for your reply. I´m still having difficulty taking it all in and accepting that there is nothing I can do. I am just now beginning to see the unhealthy dynamics he must´ve grown up in, and I can still see this whenever we go to a family gathering of his. It is very painful for me, because I come from a fairly healthy family. There is a lot of distrust between everyone inside the family and towards people outside the family as well. I had noticed some strange tension before, but last time we met I felt some ill will from his brothers directed towards me as well.
Anyway, thanks for replying and reading my post, it is very hard to take the rose colored glasses off.
Helpful - 0
3060903 tn?1398565123
Hi there , I watched a horrific movie about a bear attack , can't think of the name, but it got me obsessing on the topic of mace and if my son is legally allowed to carry it, I was talking to someone recently and they said to me, "bears are more afraid of you, then you are of them". and now i'm saying it to you.

First let me qualify by saying that i'm an alcoholic in recovery for 16 years now. What i'm going to say to you, is that your husband is not going to leave you because you decide to A) leave a party or B) refuse to go in the first place. Please , believe me, you are far too valuable a commodity for him to up and leave you, for not wanting to "go somewhere".

Why not test it out? The next time you don't want to go somewhere, simply say you're not feeling well. The next time, say that his brother's make you feel uncomfortable. And sit back and see what happens.

If this man actually makes your lie unbearable for not attending family gatherings when you don't want to, what do you really have going for you in your relationship? Tell him grow up and grow a pair. That you are not going to be manipulated into doing anything you don't want to.

If he threatens to leave, at least wait until his bags are packed before you renege on the boundaries you are trying to set up for yourself.

I think he's like a bear , pawing and grunting, but when push comes to shove, if you stand up and bang a few pots, he'll probably turn and run. What have you got to lose? He wants to play games with you? Give him a run for his money. and don't back down. I can almost 100% guarantee that you mean a whole lot more to him than anything else in his life.

while you're at it, in the same breath, tell him you insist that he get full blood work done, because you're worried about his liver blowing up.
That's what id do anyway. and i've had to fight with men for real.....
Helpful - 0
3060903 tn?1398565123
Youve been with this man for one year, only. regardless of knowing him from when you were kids. You're still young, and it's easy enough to find a good fine relationship with a man in your early 40's. Don't you think you're worth the effort that would take?

If I were you, I would give this guy an Intervention for REAL (like the tv show) and move on if he didn't care enough to give sobriety a shot.

Please believe me as an full blown alcoholic that also had blackouts, fights rants and blaming, your' bf is not enjoying his alcoholism. He really could use someone with some back bone standing up to him to try to save the rest of his life. He comes from a bad family it sounds like anyways that there are problems and i'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the family of origin has alot to do with his alcoholism. So for him to force you to talk to his mother, because he can't bring himself to do so, means that he needs to work on his family problems and he can't do that with his family of origin or with you, if he's continuing to drink and get drunk.

YES YOU ARE ENABLING THIS MAN and when you're 50 and 60, and have been treated like garbage by a man that doesn't know how to run his own life, you'll regret your not taking action sooner. I swear you will.

I found a wonderful partner when we were both in our early 40's > We both were active alcoholics and drug addicts, so be both quit. Simple as that. Why can't you see this guy quitting ? Why don't you think that you' are worth the effort.?

If you can't stand up and call a spade a spade, he really needs a women like myself, that would kick his a$$ to the curb if he didn't quit and stay quit. My husband and i got well, I went to a 30 day outpatient rehab. He quit on his own, only to relapse a year later. As he was using narcotics when he did, he also became paranoid schitzophrenic so i had to commit him for about 3 weeks and then had him go to a 90 day Rehab. and before I met him, I was a homeless person with no job no car nothing. Right is right. Had i been afraid, we wouldnt have this relationship right now, or the house we call our own, or our cars and happy kids taking vacations at our expense. (god keep them safe).

You can't be afraid, YOU DESERVE THE BEST and sometimes you gotta make that HAPPEN FOR YOURSELF>

I'm here if you want tot talk.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Thank you Liz for your reply, it has really helped me a lot. Congratulations on your recovery, you seem like someone who has really taken charge of her life and problems!
I´ve been going through a rollercoaster of emotions lately, and also been thinking the situation through and what my part is in all of this. And I´ve come to the sad realization that deep down I don´t believe my boyfriend would be with me if he were sober, that somehow he would see he can do much better than me once he stopped drinking. So that was very sad. Then, when I convinced myself that I can at least tell him I´m not happy about his drinking, I went into this Florence Nightingale-mindset of trying to save him, feeling sorry for him and his inability to have a fulfilling life. Sort of like wanting to take care of him (while I should really focus on myself for a while, after this stressful year). At the same time, I felt very angry with him, because the truth is that he is a real bully, not only when he´s drinking, only less agressively so when sober.
This weekend was terrible for me, we were going to go out together to a restaurant to celebrate my birthday and then I would stay over at his place. However, I had trouble staying over because I had no one to stay with my kids at that time, so then he postponed it to a week later. Which was fine with me. So we just stayed at his home and he opened a bottle of wine. Then another one (I hardly ever drink, just took a sip and he drank all the rest). Then he began telling me he was having trouble with his job, he changed careers a couple of years ago and is discovering it isn´t as easy as he thought. Anyway, this is when I first noticed how he lies to himself. He talked as if he had so many other options available, as if he is completely in charge, while the truth is that things aren´t working out for him at all as he expected (his expectations were absurd, but he was so sure of himself that I used to believe it would all work out for him).
After a short time, we had been together for 3 hours orso, he began one of his rants, complaining that I had changed plans at the last minute, and how dared I do something like that. He made it look like I was a real b*tch, demanding that he take me out when he is short on money, and then change plans. It was all so untrue and plain mean. But the new thing for me was that I didn´t feel the need to defend myself, or engage in the discussion. At one point, when he was very loud and verbally abusive, I just said Bye and left.
I just couldn´t take it any longer, it was as if I´d snapped. It was a relief to be back home again, but also very sad. I haven´t heard from him since and don´t intend to contact him. The next day I received a call from him, only it sounded like he had accidentally pressed the "call" button because I could only hear some background noise. Which was strange, anyway. Now I´ve been worrying about what will happen next, will he take this as a breakup and ignore me? I feel this is what I fear the most. At the same time, I´ve been remembering all the mean things he has said to me in the past whenever he was drinking, and feeling either sorry for myself or angry. Then I think he will act as if nothing happened, or give some lame excuse and everything will go back to how it was. I´m feeling very bad right now, not sure how to deal with it. Anyway, thanks for letting me get this all out, even if it´s on the internet.
Helpful - 0
3060903 tn?1398565123
Listen girlfriend, be thankful that you have a home to go home to... many wives and girlfriends and their children, of alcoholics end up totally broke, even sicker than they were when entering into the highly dysfunctional relationship.
Yes, i called you "sick", in that, you have got problems with your own personal identity, you are experiencing an identity crisis, and as such easy fodder for a co dependent relationship. which is what is happening when a spouse takes abuse because they are unsure of whether this dysfunctional relationship is all they can attract to them. This is happening to him because he's an alcoholic and nobody is able to get through to him yet. This is happening to you because somewhere down the line somebody told you or showed you  that you are not worth "the real deal". But you are. And in my honest opinion you need to talk to a therapist about some of the unhealthy verdicts you have come to about your true self worth. | Because whatever happened to you, and however \you were abused in your life, has got you thinking that you cannot do better than living with an outrageous alcoholic in active addiction , with no thought of doing anything else, or maybe just not in this decade.
I've been abused by such a cad, my first husband. and wasted 7 long years of progressive abuse, and by that i mean that he would get drunk, black out and \i would become his punching bag for whatever the hell it was that happened to him before i met him that sent him over the edge and into a dysfunctional lifestyle.
I can guarantee you something though, whatever you think you're getting from this guy now, start to multiply that , because alcoholism unchecked (enabled) gets worse with every passing day, and year. You will be a shell of a human being , abused and down the road bloody, and he' won't be able to have any compassion at all, because active alcoholics have no shame, and they can't be sorry for what they can't remember. \I lived in a black out for a good many years. \i had no idea what i did, although i know that i was driving around town, going to bars , etc. I was in a complete blackout and |NOBODY KNEW. Everybody just classified me as a danger |(the smart ones anyway) and backed off, walked the long way around me,  I conversed with people all the time, and they had no idea that i was in a blackout , like i was sleeping, i had no idea where i was or what was going on around me.
SO, i'm glad you asked about this, because as a mother, if not for yourself, you have to steer clear of danger, for them, or you'll be creating a problem down the road that you have |NO IDEA| . Don't be naive. If your kids are around this man and in any way bond with him, they will become a product of what he' creates, and that is |HAVOC. |Do you understand what i'm saying here? I mean the true gravity?? My father was an alcoholic, and his four kids all ended up as drug addicts, alcoholics, the boys (2) beat their wives (and i'm talking about MANY wives) because a drug addict/ alcoholic that get's to act out and progress will destroy lives like a sunami, and end up leaving spouse after spouse, for greener pastures.

Think about it. He's willing to throw you out the minute that you show any sign of resistance. What do you think motivates that logic ? I'll tell you, it's "i can replace you for another girl in a new york minute" I'm sorry but these are the facts. On the other hand, if you studied what this addiction is all about, and provided a proper Intervention, maybe including some of his family that have a brain that's not pickled, and give him the opportunity to change. then maybe he will. Maybe he will allow the process to begin that will give him a full life. Maybe he'll see that his dad had quit drinking, and say to himself "why not".

My dear girl, don't let him destroy your kid's lives by being around somebody that doesn't care less about them. Don't let your kid's see how not to treat a women.

You really should talk to a therapist about what happened to you that makes you still feel like you are undeserving of a GREAT LIFE WITH A GREAT PARTNER.

One thing that i mention sometimes on here is the extent that a really bad case of alcoholism and drug addiction can turn on a dime and make the right choices for the right reasons. My son was the reason |I finally got clean and sober. BUT, i had to lose my son before i managed to get the help that i needed. IT process took a lot longer because it was my dysfunctional family of origin (mother) that took my son from me. My mother raised her kids in a terribly abusive home, and destroyed her kids's lives. |Her kids hate her more than the father who did the physical abuse. because she allowed it to happen. If you stick around for abuse, and if you think for minute that your kids will understand, you've got another thing coming that will really knock the wind out of you. Your kids' will despise you for allowing yourself and them to be influenced by a man that refused to get himself the help he needed.

Listen, you were at the stage not too many days ago, when you opened this thread to say...THIS ISN'T SOMETHING I CAN WALK AWAY FROM  (citing the good times). The good times will  become less and less as the disease takes full hold of this man. \
I'll say it again, if you can't be tough enough to battle with the devil and make demands, you really need to walk away, FOR HI|S GOOD>

If he's not willing to do what it takes for you and your kids, YOU need to walk away |FOR |THE FAMILY.

I initiated blood/urine testing every second day, during my lunch hour, while working at a automobile manufacturing job working back to back 12 hour shifts , with a back injury sustained on the job FOR OVER TWO (2) YEARS.


You can search out detox and rehab for him. It is only in Addictions Therapy that addicts (myself) learn what went so terribly wrong in their lives to result in long term ADDICTION. i mean as the great TtinkK says that anybody that drinks x amount turns into a pickle, and she's right, there are also cases that the alcoholism is as a result of a dysfunctional family which i think is your friend's case, (and believe me when i say, they are the worst cases)

You are reaching out for help, but what you may not realize when you started this thread, it is YOU that needs to get help for YOU. You can get help from a therapist to learn of your true value, and get to understand what when wrong that you don't feel good  being you ... and not have to SETTLE. YOU TOO CAN GET WELL. You need to be a fine example of motherhood. You are not just slowing down from a normal progression in your own life, every time this man abuses you it's like putting  a nail in your own casket. You need to stay away from this danger. Your kids are at stake. As a child of an alcoholic parent, that is allowed to go unchecked, PLEASE please, don't do this to them!!!
Helpful - 0
3060903 tn?1398565123
I have alot of respect for you for asking the question that you have here. I have alot of hope for YOUR full recovery from this,
Helpful - 0
3060903 tn?1398565123
I know darlin' where you're at right now, and i wish that we were in the same town, so that i could bring you out of this and have you meet some good people but alas, you will do that yourself, when you get feeling better. I know that you can come out of this, and be stronger and happier than ever before. You were missing something in your life, and it was only bad luck that had you get in the target  range of addiction. You were right to look for somebody, just not this guy. You deserve someone who wants to LIVE LAUGH AND BE HAPPY!!!! You won't find that if you're tied to a runaway train.
Helpful - 0
16686334 tn?1450419042
Enabling is nothing to do with someone controlling you.

Enabling an alcoholic is giving money, bailing them out, doing anything for them which they are able to do themselves.

I would suggest you google your question "Am I enabling an alcoholic?" The info you receive is priceless. I would also suggest you seek a family support group via Al-Anon.

You didnt cause the alcoholic to drink
You cant control their drinking
You cant cure it either

You are welcome to message me anytime. Wife of an alcoholic
Helpful - 0
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Alcoholic, Living with an Community

Top Addiction Answerers
495284 tn?1333894042
City of Dominatrix, MN
3060903 tn?1398565123
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Is treating glaucoma with marijuana all hype, or can hemp actually help?
If you think marijuana has no ill effects on your health, this article from Missouri Medicine may make you think again.
Julia Aharonov, DO, reveals the quickest way to beat drug withdrawal.
Tricks to help you quit for good.
Herpes sores blister, then burst, scab and heal.
Herpes spreads by oral, vaginal and anal sex.