I’ve been seeing my current boyfriend for over five months now. He is everything I’ve looked for in a partner. We both have been incredibly open with one another regarding out pasts: relationships, family, experiences, etc. My own past involves an alcoholic father, whose addiction I am still trying to deal with. My boyfriend is the first guy that I have been able to completely open up to about this, from my earliest memory to my own dependency issues. He’s been supportive and receptive.
A few weekends ago we got into a heated discussion regarding alcohol use. First of all, I consider myself to be very aware of my own drinking habits, or more appropriately, lack thereof. I drink socially once a week, and occasionally reward myself with a glass of wine during the work week. At age 24, I feel I can say with confidence that I do not have an addictive personality. He argued that drinking wine as much as I do is concerning and I argued that in moderation, it has health benefits.
I agree with him that there are healthier ways to cope with stress (working out, reading a book, etc.), however I couldn’t help but get defensive. I feel that because of my family history, my drinking habits will forever be scrutinized. I want to be with someone who can support me through this, not monitor my actions. I’m still unsettled by this conversation, but not sure how to bring it up without it escalating again. I’m not even sure what I could say to him! Do you have any advice?
— Haunted by Her Past Hallie
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Dear Haunted by Her Past Hallie,
I understand that this must be an extremely sensitive issue for you, especially when confronted with it by someone who hasn't had to deal with the same family history that you have. However, I don't think that you should assume that your boyfriend's reaction is based solely on what you've told him about your dad. Sometimes the people closest to us can see us far more clearly than we can see ourselves. Furthermore, if your boyfriend is concerned about your level of drinking and you are aware of more effective ways of dealing with your stress, I think it might not be a bad idea to try out some of those other options, both for yourself and your man.
That said, I don't blame you for not wanting to be scrutinized, and I think you need to explain to your boyfriend how that makes you feel. Tell him that you will try to find better ways to relax at the end of your day (you might want to mention that a foot rub wouldn't hurt!), but it's also important to you that he doesn't keep looking for you to make a mistake. You told him what you did because you wanted support, not because you were needing judgment. But do keep in mind that just because it's frustrating to hear his comments, it doesn't make them any less valid.