I’m about to tell my girlfriend that she’s an alcoholic. This is a given. But aside from the Irish temper she already possesses, I may not get to say everything I want to if we have an actual conversation. I’ve taken to penning her a very thoughtful and meaningful perspective so that I can express, with some length, everything those around her have been experiencing. I’ll be leaving it for her when I know that I’ll be gone for a couple of days so she can read it in the privacy of her own space and use it as an impetus for beginning a conversation. I do this so that I can get out everything I want to say as well as not blindsiding her with what will be seen as a surprise discussion. I just want to know if that seems like too much like a cop-out or not. I don’t think so myself. I’ll get my complete say and it will be the beginning point of “where do we go from here?” Any thoughts?
Good for you for wanting to address your girlfriend’s alcoholism and how it impacts you and your relationship with her. This decision, undoubtedly, is a difficult one! You’ve probably hoped that things would improve on their own, but now you’re aware that an intervention needs to happen.
Rest assured that it’s normal to feel anxious and unsure about moving forward. After all, you care about your girlfriend, and you don’t want to hurt her feelings. At the same time, you don’t want to continue enabling the same destructive behavior.
If you choose to write down your thoughts, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. First, aim for a neutral time to write down your thoughts. If you’re feeling flustered or angry, it’s challenging to focus on being concise and appropriate. Having a calm and collected attitude gives you the best chance for coming across as genuine and compassionate – rather than harsh and demanding.
Likewise, it’s crucial that you express how much love and concern you have for your girlfriend. Drinking can be incredibly isolating; it can wreak havoc on someone’s self-esteem and self-worth. And even if your girlfriend struggles with denial, there’s probably a good chance she knows her drinking is problematic. Your letter should convey a sense of love and kindness. It’s you and her against the drinking – not you pitted against her.
When writing, try to avoid using ‘blame’ language. Instead, focus on owning your feelings and maintaining a personal sense of accountability. This means using I-statements like, “I felt hurt when you canceled our date night because you started drinking that afternoon,” or “I feel scared when you choose to drink and drive.” In other words, write down how your girlfriend’s drinking has affected you. What feelings do you have about her decisions? What fears do you have moving forward?
Finally, your letter should include the boundaries you intend to implement with your girlfriend. For many people, setting boundaries is the hardest part. That’s because boundaries often feel cruel. However, they are essential to your emotional well-being. All secure and healthy relationships have strong boundaries; without them, partners can become codependent and toxic with one another. Remember that you have a right to feel happy and safe in your relationship.
Boundaries are only as effective as your ability to implement them. That’s why it’s essential for you to identify what you are and are not willing to negotiate. How do you intend to proceed if she continues drinking? What are you no longer willing to support?
Please feel free to contact us again if you have any more questions or concerns.
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. I have since settled in North Carolina. I have experience working with various stages of addiction, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, trauma, stages of life concerns and relationship concerns.
I tend to use a person-centered approach which simply means that I meet you where you are and work collaboratively to help you identify and work towards accomplishing goals. I will often pull from CBT when appropriate. I do encourage use of mindfulness and meditation and practice these skills in my own life. I believe in treating everyone with respect, sensitivity and compassion.
I recognize that reaching out for help is hard and commend you for taking the first step. We have professionals available who would be happy to help you move closer to reaching your goals related to your drinking concerns. You may reach these professionals by calling 877-322-2694.