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He refuses to drink

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  February 16, 2010 08:00 AM

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Good morning.

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Q: I've been reading LL for a long time and never thought that I would be in the position to personally submit a letter, but here I am.

I have been dating a man, let’s call him "Dave," for two years now. We live together and things have been going great for the most part. Although, there's this one issue that I can't seem to get over. Dave doesn't drink alcohol. At all. Not even a beer here and there. And I'll answer the questions before they come: no, he is not a recovering alcoholic; no, he does not have a parent/relative who is an alcoholic; and no, he's never had a traumatic event involving alcohol. It's just a personal choice. He used to drink but stopped shortly after college.

For the record, I am 24 and he is 28. I like to go out every once and a while and drink, have fun, and be social. I see going out and drinking as a stress release (I'm talking once or twice a weekend), while Dave prefers to stay in, watch TV, relax, etc. That's all fine and good, I like to relax as much as the next person, but it can't be my only activity. He does not have these urges to be social and active. He also does not keep in touch with very many of his friends due to the alcohol situation. While they are respectful of his decision, it has definitely affected their ability to keep in touch (they know not to call him in situations where alcohol comes into play). And how often is that the case with a group of 28yr old males?!

Now my question is this: am I putting too much emphasis on this difference in interest, and is it important enough to end an otherwise perfect relationship? He's fine with me going out and drinking with friends, but will refuse to come along. I know it sounds petty, but this is someone that I could potentially marry. Do I really want to be the only person drinking/letting loose at dinner, on vacation, with a group of friends, forever?? I know that I am still young and that this urge to "party" will eventually subside, but I really think the urge to be social and have a good time will not. Readers, think about how different your lives would be if you could not go out and have a couple of drinks with your significant other.

I have let him know that this is becoming a problem and he asks why I am "trying to change him." I know he won't completely change but all I'm asking for is a little bit of effort on his part. All I want is a celebratory beer here and there and someone who is going to live life to the fullest whenever they can. Sitting on the couch watching TV is not what I call living. We'll have plenty of time to do that down the line, and I'm scared that if he's being this reclusive at 28, it's only going to get worse. Am I being shallow? Should I just get over it and accept him for who he is? Would I be better off with someone who is more spontaneous?

I would love to hear from any readers that may have been in a similar situation and how it turned out. Thank you for any advice you can offer!

– Destined to Drink Alone, Boston



A: DTDA, you describe two problems in your letter. The first is your guy's refusal to drink. The second is his lack of interest in going out.

I have to wonder whether the drinking thing would bother you as much if he liked to go out and was more interested in seeing his friends. Lots of people manage to let loose without booze. Your guy just isn't interested in letting loose. Or, more accurately, he likes to let loose on the couch.

You're not being shallow. You're not overreacting. But you are trying to change him, and I'm not so sure he's changeable. You say that "things have been going great for the most part." How great?

If you want someone who will toast you as you do the town, this isn't the guy. Your options are to learn to socialize without him and join him on the couch when you're done, or to find someone more like-minded.

But please, don't assume this is about alcohol. It's about basic personality differences. If your guy was out at a restaurant giggling with you and declined to order a beer, you probably wouldn't even notice.

Not surprisingly, my advice is to talk to him about all of this. You're only half of the equation. Is he happy being with someone who likes to drink and go out? Does he believe that the good stuff about your relationship is good enough to make up for your differences? Find out.

Readers? Is this about alcohol? Is he being honest with her? Will her desires change as she gets older? Share.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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