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Stay friends with drinking ex?

My boyfriend just broke things off because he wants to fix himself — but he still wants to be friends. Should we?

Our elder has some very specific advice for a letter writer who needs support.

Dear EWC

I’ve been with someone six years older than me for five years now. We have been extremely close, lived together, and been close with each other’s families. The problem is he has a drinking problem, and it has gotten worse through the years. He realizes there is a problem and has tried counseling but it has not been enough help. He has cheated on me several times, most recently with someone 36 years younger than him who works at our job (we work at the same organization). He swears she was just a fling on and off again, keeps telling me how much he loves me and does not want to lose me, but recently broke things off with us stating he needs to fix himself and does not want to hurt me anymore.

Problem is, he wants us to remain friends. He says he would be lost without that, messages me all the time, and comes to see me at work, but he is still drinking. I do not know whether to cut off all communication, thinking it may make him wake up and see what he has lost and change, or push him over the edge and maybe drink himself to death. I honestly do not know what to do. Any advice would be appreciated as I’m in misery with everything and confused.

Good-Listener replies

I normally don’t get that specific with advice, but in this case I will. You can’t change your boyfriend and he has to want to do that. I’m going to suggest that you go to Al Anon. In case you are not familiar, it’s specifically for the families, loved ones and friends of alcoholics. There is literature, meetings both in various locations (nationwide — even internationally) and online. I think you might get some clarity, help and fellowship from it. Your letter sounds like stories the likes of which I have heard at meetings, and they can understand and offer you specifics that I never could. You could get some counseling — and it wouldn’t be a bad idea, but I don’t know if you have insurance or if you are in a position to get it. However, it’s a good consideration. As I said, there are Al-Anon meetings all over the country, as well as online and it’s worth a shot to look into. The website is www.al-anon.org. I wish you only the best and hope you can get help for yourself — and that your boyfriend can find recovery. Good luck.

Letter #: 453521
Category: Dating/Relationship

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