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Philippa Courtney



He Drinks, I Don't�Can We Date?


Dear Philippa,

I'm a 32-year old non-drinker and I am dating a wonderful man who is a "social drinker". I am usually non-judgmental but for some reason I got upset when someone told me that he has been known to occasionally over indulge. He's skinny so alcohol goes to his head fast. I'm worried that at certain celebrations and parties he may get drunk when I'm around. How can I ask him to keep his drinking in moderation when he's around me?

�Gwen, Columbia, SC


Dear Gwen,

I really relate to your dilemma on a personal level. I once had a bad experience dating a chap who had a drinking problem and ever since then I find myself very uncomfortable around people who drink to excess. But one person's excess is another person's "getting happy".

It sounds like you're worrying about something that hasn't happened yet. I take it that your boyfriend doesn't know how uncomfortable you feel when you're around people who drink too much? Maybe if you had a light discussion about drinking and explain your feelings and why you feel the way you do�without pointing a finger at him�it would allow him to share how he feels about drinking.

Be careful not to imply that he should change�just let him know how you feel. It's up to him to decide whether he needs to change his behavior. You can't ask him to do that before the fact anyway. If he really cares about how you feel and knows where you stand he may choose to avoid over indulging, especially when he is around you.

Once you are headed into a longer-term, committed relationship, even marriage, it will be imperative that you really address your differences and the effect alcohol has on him and consequently on you. He may not be aware of how his small frame and blood sugar levels impact the effect alcohol has on him. He may think he's only having a few drinks so what's the big deal. I should know because it takes very little alcohol to go to my head, which is one reason I choose not to drink. My husband, on the other hand, is twice my size and enjoys wine and other drinks in moderation�meaning he chooses to drink to relax, not to get drunk.

People drink for many reasons. Some people feel they need to drink to feel confident so they can let their hair down and have a good time at socially demanding situations. You need to understand why he drinks in the first place, just as he needs to understand why you do not.

Your boyfriend doesn't sound like he has a drinking problem. He just sounds like a guy who likes to let his hair down just once in a while. You need to ask yourself if you are comfortable knowing he may still want to enjoy more alcohol than you would like him to drink when you are not around.

You have a right to feel how you do. Just as your boyfriend has a right to feel how he does. If after talking it out you still feel very uncomfortable about this issue you may have to decide you would be better off with a man who shares your views on drinking�and there are many of those around.

There will always be differences between people in a relationship. If it isn't an issue of drinking, it will be something else. Learn how to negotiate these differences within the context of your relationship and you increase your chances of sustaining the kind of partnership that can last a lifetime. He sounds like a good guy I hope you can work things out.



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