Dating An Alcoholic | DOs, DON’Ts & Detailed Insights

We appreciate you for taking the step to know more about dating an alcoholic. It is challenging and it takes courage to seek help when you have no idea what to do.

While dating an alcoholic, the worst thing that you can do is to force them to recover. Any form of therapy, either self or professional, only works if there is a desire to improve from within. If you try to force it on your partner, it can backfire.

They might start drinking even more purely out of rebellion. 

Before We Begin

Right from the fear of being judged for dating an addict to the jitters of being mocked, you have decided to face them all bravely, and we applaud you for it.

However, there is something you need to know.

We understand that dating an alcoholic is a very challenging experience which some people have to go through.

Nevertheless, feeling like a victim will never improve the situation, and there are some objective steps that you need to take.

So let’s start with the essential DOs and DON’Ts first.

What To Do While Dating An Alcoholic?

1. Understand That A Miracle Can’t Happen Overnight

Many spouses get frustrated when they fail to understand why their partner cannot stay away from alcohol, even when specifically asked to.

A person doesn’t turn into an alcoholic overnight. Thus, you cannot push them into sobriety by just snapping your fingers.

Let’s do a little exercise. Try not to think of a pink elephant while you read this point. We told you not to think about a pink elephant. Try again.

Are you still thinking about a pink elephant? And you are constantly thinking about it despite being asked not to. Getting our point?

It is in human nature to be attracted to what they are asked to abstain from. The problem of alcoholism is not superficial and is a deep-rooted psychological one.

Therefore, it needs measures that cater to those root causes.

2. Try To Be Extra Patient

It is very easy to be frustrated, shout or even become abusive.

Yes, we understand that what you are going through feels like hell, and you sometimes feel like dying or killing your partner.

But remember, an alcoholic person is not in the right state of mind, whereas you are.

You might have read or heard a lot about the importance of being patient.

But we want to emphasize its significance even more and thus asking you to be extra patient.

Creating a violent and hostile environment will only backtrack any progress you might have made. It may even worsen the problem.

Try To Be Extra Patient

3. Show Them The Effects Of Their Alcoholism

Remember the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? Apply the same to your case.

Instead of telling them stories about why they should not drink, start clicking them in their worst state.

Maybe when they have thrown up and are lying in their own piss or vomit.

Show them the marks of physical injuries they may have inflicted upon themselves or on you or the children while you were trying to handle them.

TABLE: Problematic Partner Behavior

Arrested for drunk driving12%
Huge fight when under influence81%
Suspended or fired from job37%
Sustained injury45%
Injured someone34%
Violent and erratic behavior72%
Source: Based on a study by consisting of 98 participants who were with an alcoholic partner or had been with one in the past.
Note: Percentage does not equal to hundred due to overlapping behaviors.

You can click or record your partner when they are displaying a problematic behavior under influence.

This is different from if they hit you or others and become violent.

In that case, you might need to end this relationship due to safety concerns and explore your options.

Don’t show them the pictures in a mocking way. Remember, you are trying to help them.

4. Talk To Them About Therapy

As mentioned earlier, instead of forcing therapy, it is advisable to talk to them about it.

An alcoholic initially lives in a mode of denial, and it takes them a long time to come to terms with the fact that yes, indeed there is something wrong about their habit.

An alcoholic in the initial days usually doesn’t feel that their drinking habit is a bit on the extreme side.

Thus, forcing therapy on such a person will not be met with a kind reaction as they will find it hurtful.

Remember, for them, the drinking is quite normal and in control.

Moreover, there is a stigma attached to the word therapy.

Hence, instead of saying that ‘you need therapy’, try to show them in a subtle way how their drinking is not normal and why an external ‘help’ is required.

5. Connect With Families Of Other Alcoholics

Fighting this battle alone will always feel like an uphill task. You don’t need to be and feel alone.

With the world being at your doorstep through the internet, you can literally find thousands of people in similar situations as you.

Connect with them and their families through Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

Facebook groups can be a great way to start. Also, we suggest taking things a bit offline and finding local support groups in your area.

Such exposure will arm you with better ways to deal with your situation, and you will feel more confident than before.

Moreover, seeing other people tackle a certain situation opens up a world of new ideas for you to tackle yours.

Families of alcoholics might even suggest where you can seek professional help.

Connect With Families Of Other Alcoholics

6. Educate Yourself On The Subject

Sitting idle and feeling like a victim all day or cursing your life will not get you anywhere.

Moreover, if your partner is already contemplating therapy, then too, leaving everything on them and the therapist isn’t the way to go.

Therapies will work well only if the home environment is warm and favorable.

And guess who is a major player in the environment at home? You, of course.

Thus we suggest you read a lot on the subject and take in as much information as you can.

Also, talking to a professional therapist might help you better understand what behaviors or situations to avoid while your partner is in therapy.

7. Understand That You Cannot Help Them Unless They Want It

We often see a lot of partners feeling frustrated over the fact that despite trying so many things, your partner still cannot seem to give up alcohol.

What they fail to understand is that their partner too needs to play their cards right in order to come out of their situation.

Unless, they stick to what is being advised and decide that they want to improve, no amount of effort from your end will be of any avail.

We understand that you love them and want to help them, but there is a saying “God helps those who help themselves”.

Thus, if even God cannot help them unless they don’t want to improve, then you as a human being need to understand your limitations.

Understand That You Cannot Help Them Unless They Want It

Things To Avoid While Dating An Alcoholic

1. Don’t Keep Track Of Their Drinking

There is absolutely no way you can stop an alcoholic by trying to curtail their drinking or keeping track of it.

The more you actively try to stop them or give them a piece of your mind over the quantity of the liquor going in their body, the more they will find other ways to drink.

At least now they are open enough with you about it, and you at least have some idea of when they are drinking, what they are drinking and how much they are drinking.

By choosing to keep track, you will kind of push them to a situation where they will try and hide it from you.

This will put them at risk because then they will be drinking in an environment or a place where it won’t be as safe or comfortable as in front of your eyes.

2. Don’t Lecture Them

This follows the above point logically that no amount of words, lectures, or threats will have any kind of positive effect on them.

It will only repel them further and may even bring out the worst in them.

Since a person loses the sense of right and wrong under alcohol, therefore, your corrective words may come across as constant nagging, and they might lash out at you either verbally or physically.

Therefore, consider refraining from lecturing for your own safety and the safety of those around you.

An alcoholic might also try to harm themselves as and when they start feeling fed up with lectures.

3. Don’t Bad Mouth Them To Family, Friends Or Children

An alcoholic is already under a lot of mental stress due to a variety of issues.

It might be a failed relationship of the past, or it might be the frictions in the current one.

It might be an extreme workload, or it might be feeling like a general failure in life. Add to that their guilt of alcohol abuse whenever they are sober.

Because, at the end of the day, an alcoholic does know deep inside that whatever he or she is doing isn’t right at all.

In the midst of all of these, the last thing you would want is to badmouth them in front of other people.

Let others form their own opinion. Any aggravation from you would add to their stress and might drive them towards an extreme step like suicide.

Don’t Bad Mouth Them To Family, Friends Or Children

4. Don’t Google Recovery Information

Suppose you have a problem in life. And you have a friend or a loved one running all around the world to find the perfect solution to your problem.

And guess what? They finally find one.

They are pretty excited to come over to you and share their discovery only to find you have an apathetic attitude towards the solution or their effort in general.

It is then your friend realizes that they should have checked with you first whether or not you have the same amount of enthusiasm to get a solution.

Or even better, how much effort are you putting in to find a solution. See where we are going with this?

Googling recovery information, finding the best books, setting up appointments with recovery groups, etc. is not your job.

You might aid the alcoholic in recovery, but it is not you who should be the primary force. They need to buckle up and show active participation too.

5. Don’t Make Them A Priority

We see so many people getting up tangled in the alcohol problem of their spouse or date to the extent that they forget or lose the purpose of their own lives.

We urge you not to be that person. As mentioned above, you should be the second person in this pursuit of a solution or recovery.

The person you are doing this for needs to think more about themselves than you are thinking about them.

Thus, we urge you to focus on your life, your important tasks, and your priorities first.

If after all this, you still have some time left, then feel free to help the alcoholic.

Because if at the end of all this, the alcoholic person doesn’t end up improving even one bit and worsens his or her situation by not showing a resolve, you are really going to regret all the time that you would’ve lost.

6. Don’t Be Gullible To Lies

You are beautiful, kind, honest, hard-working and a good human being.

If the alcoholic, due to his or her own shortcomings, tells you otherwise, do not believe them.

It’s the tendency of human beings to find a scapegoat to blame for their own failures.

For some strange reason, it makes them feel better about themselves.

Therefore, whenever you find yourself at the receiving end of a hurl of abuses and criticism, whether or not the other person is under the influence of alcohol, do not let it get to your head.

It is their own remorse or guilt that they are trying to transfer onto you because maybe by now they do realize that they are somewhat incapable of leading a good life.

They perhaps know that they are a slave of their desires, and it is their desire for alcohol which controls them instead of the other way round.

Don’t Be Gullible To Lies

7. Don’t Blame Yourself If You Decide To Leave

Yes, we know that you are doing everything in your capacity to help the person recover from their alcohol addiction.

We also know that you have chosen to stay because you believe that this is the right thing to do and not desert someone.

We know that you are attached to the person in some way and therefore maybe even find it difficult to leave.

But let us tell you that if tomorrow you find yourself in a position where you feel that you cannot take it anymore and want to leave, it won’t make you a horrible person.

Everybody has the right to break free from what is chaining them, and you would be no different.

Also, if you see the signs early on and just don’t want to be around and not put in any effort, then too let nobody judge you.

It won’t be wrong to think about yourself first. You are not responsible for making corrections in someone else’s life.

How Do You Know You’re Dating An Alcoholic?

To know if you’re dating an alcoholic, check if they’re drunk one or two times a day over ten consecutive days. The checks needs to be at totally random times within the 24-hour period. If you find your date under the influence more than eleven out of twenty times, you’re dating an alcoholic.

These checks work best if you can be around your date and smell alcohol on their breath.

If you ask them over a call or text, they might lie. Moreover, it will make them suspicious or angry.

Other ways to identify if you are dating an alcoholic is to look for one or more of these signs.

Also, there might be something that you feel is a classic alcoholic behavior, but maybe we forgot to put it on the list.

We have consulted a lot of psychologists and families, spouses of alcoholics to compile this list. Still, we urge you to take everything with a grain of salt.

Trust your gut instincts when it comes to identifying alcoholic tendencies early on in a person you are dating.

1. They Will Be Drunk Right From The Beginning

Yes! And that means the first encounter, the first date, the first dinner, and even the first time you get frisky together.

There will be alcohol involvement in one or more of these. And that alcohol involvement will feel different than what you are used to in your life.

It might be the quantity or maybe their behavior, but something will feel off right from the beginning.

You will feel that in a lot or perhaps all of these instances the person would have behaved a lot more differently than they did after alcohol.

Perhaps, this is what they seek confidence from, or maybe they feel a completely different person to be with when sober.

They Will Be Drunk Right From The Beginning

2. They Will Be Drunk In Front Of Your Friends

This behavior will be shown repeatedly to the extent where they might make a complete fool out of themselves.

We know we might be sounding a bit too harsh, but you will see it happening sooner or later. Also, there will be a lot of embarrassment that you might have to face.

Whether it is your friends or your family, an alcoholic doesn’t bother about it at all and feels that it will not make any difference to his or her image if they turn up drunk.

For them, they feel they are always in control, even when they are clearly not.

An alcoholic feels that if he or she tries to behave properly, then nobody would be able to tell that they are drunk.

Of course, we both know how wrong they are.

3. Their Day Starts With Alcohol

Whether it is a seemingly harmless pint of beer or a strong peg of whiskey early in the morning, they just cannot seem to function without alcohol.

Alcohol is to them what coffee is to most people.

And the day you urge them to not drink at the beginning of the day or forcefully keep them away from having a drink, you may either encounter them facing challenges in doing the daily chores or might even face repulsive violent actions.

It is essential to realize that this is a point where their alcohol addiction has reached a severe level.

4. They Will Be Drunk At Work

A person who needs to start their day with alcohol, how can you expect them to be not drunk at work.

It is only a matter of time before you will hear such news or maybe even get to know about their termination due to being drunk at work.

Remember, they needed alcohol to do their daily stuff.

Then isn’t it the next logical step for them to be drunk at work so as to be able to carry out their job responsibilities?

Some, just like any other addict, believe that alcohol significantly improves their efficiency and therefore they need to have a drink or two while working.

It is all justified and sorted out in their heads.

They Will Be Drunk At Work

5. They Can Only ‘Sober Up’ For A Really Short Time

It is not like that you’d feel they are not making any effort to sober up.

Once in a while, there will be short bouts of time where you might see them give up on alcohol altogether.

But sadly, these will only be short bouts and not a permanent effort.

It will be as resolute as a new year’s resolution, and sooner or later, they will find a reason to go back to their old drinking habits.

Also, these short bursts of sobering up will decrease gradually.

After each unsuccessful ‘sobering up’ attempt, their morale will get lower and lower to the point where they will stop trying quitting altogether.

6. They Need To Have Alcohol With Them All The Time

Alcohol is something that you will find with them religiously most of the time, and you’d feel as if they’ve forgotten that they once were able to function without it.

They will not think twice before pouring themselves a drink and will always find a reason, happy or sad to chug down a few pegs.

They will have all sorts of excuses up their sleeves all the time on why they need a drink right now or why they are carrying that bottle of alcohol with them.

And if for some reason, they don’t have alcohol with them, you’ll see them move mountains to get their hands on some as soon as possible.

7. They Will Be Drunk Even During The Fun Trips

The trips you will plan with them to help them take their mind off alcohol and give your life a fresh breath of air, will be ruined by alcohol.

Sooner or later, the alcoholic you are dating will get drunk and spoil the whole trip for you.

And the problem will only get worse if there would be other people traveling with you because unlike you, they are not dating this person.

They would object to excessive drinking and the tomfoolery.

This active or passive criticism would not only make things uncomfortable for you but also drive your alcoholic partner towards more drinking.

They Will Be Drunk Even During The Fun Trips

8. Chugging An Entire Bottle Is Normal To Them

Terming someone an alcoholic isn’t a small thing given the negative connotations attached to it.

One weekend of binge drinking doesn’t make someone an alcoholic, but if those around them are calling them an alcoholic, there must be pretty strong reasons behind it.

Needless to say, excessive drinking is normal to such a person, and chugging down an entire bottle is no big deal.

Their body becomes so habitual or resistant to alcohol that it just doesn’t seem to hit them the ‘right’ way with a few drinks.

Thus, having a whole bottle in one go becomes kind of mandatory to enjoy the after-effects.

9. They Can Be Physically, Verbally Or Emotionally Abusive

Sooner or later, your alcoholic date or spouse will turn verbally, physically or emotionally abusive.

Alcohol takes a toll on your senses, your judgment of right and wrong, and it is only a matter of time before the master becomes the slave.

The results can be drastic with any type of abuse involved because under the influence of alcohol, everything seems justified.

They will lose their sense of right and wrong and all the pent up frustration will be taken out on you at some point in time.

You should be prepared for it or start acting now to make sure such a situation never arises.

It can be by helping them control their addiction, helping them quit or you quitting being with such a person altogether.

10. They Are At A Risk If They Don’t Drink

An alcoholic’s body becomes so habitual and addicted to alcohol that their life might actually be in danger if they don’t drink regularly.

They would show significant symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and seizures are a possibility.

At this point, the situation is well beyond your control, and it is important to get medical help as this person’s life might be in danger.

Even if you no longer want to be with this person, we suggest you think humanely.

At least arrange medical help if you see there might be a danger to their life.

Just don’t pack your bags and leave someone to die. Get immediate medical aid and then decide where you want this to proceed.

They Are At A Risk If They Don’t Drink

Is It Bad To Date An Alcoholic?

It is bad to date an alcoholic if they don’t change. It will wreak havoc on your mental health, and there will be a lot of frustration. You’ll feel trapped in a toxic situation. Either the person has to give up drinking, or you’ll have to give up on them.

We hope that you are not using the term ‘alcoholic’ loosely.

It means that the person you are dating has a severe drinking problem in medical terms and not something a medical professional would discard as mild drinking.

Therefore, before terming someone as an alcoholic, it is important to know that the negative connotations attached to the term alcoholic can and will affect the mental health of a person.

They will not be happy about it, even if they are what you can call an alcoholic. Moving on, here are many more reasons why it is bad to date an alcoholic.

1. You Would Feel Helpless

There would be so many instances where you’d feel things spiralling out of your control to the point that you’d start feeling helpless.

You might not bring about any change to your situation, however strongly you want to.

At some point in time, it will feel like a trap, and there will be situations that will bring out the worst in you.

In such situations, make sure that you do not behave in an illegal or inhumane way.

You might feel like physically harming the person, verbally abusing them, or anything which can be called extreme behavior.

Seek help if required but keep your actions in check.

2. There Will Be Daily Challenges

Each and every day is going to feel like a challenge.

You might have to defend yourself from physical or verbal assaults, or you might have to keep yourself from harming them.

It might be you cleaning up after them as they are lying in their own puke or it might be rushing to the hospital when you come home and find them flat on all fours with blood all around.

There are so many challenging scenarios when you deal with an alcoholic.

Perhaps that is why so many people choose to leave in the end or regret being with an alcoholic when they look back.

There Will Be Daily Challenges

3. There Are Significant Chances Of Cheating

As alcohol subdues your sense of judgment, therefore giving in to immediate desires is much more probable.

A sober person might refrain from cheating in a situation where an alcoholic won’t think twice before going for it.

Also, thinking under the influence of alcohol will justify their cheating in their head as for them, you won’t be good enough.

Whether it is your constant nagging regarding their addiction or your lack of ability to help them improve, it can be any cooked up reason.

They will feel right about cheating on you. As mentioned earlier, this doesn’t mean that the fault lies in you. It is just their way of thinking when drunk.

4. It Will Have Huge Effects On Your Relationship & Family Life

Peace of mind is something that becomes extinct when you are dating an alcoholic.

From the regular embarrassments in front of family and friends to the constant conflicts at home, you will feel overwhelmed.

Plus given the fact that people are quick to judge, you would continuously be hearing questions about your ‘choice’ and subtle mockery or outright sympathy.

It will fuel the mindset of you feeling victimized.

Add to that the constant bickering of your alcoholic partner as to how you are a horrible person and they drink because of you.

5. Your Finances Will Be A Mess

Needless to say, as the drinking will get severe and severe, you will find it eating up your finances.

If you are just dating the person, it might be constant borrowing of money from you or the money you feel obliged to spend on their therapy, medicines, and hospital.

If you have a family with this person, it might be the savings that you have for the college education of your kids.

Finances will deplete as each drink will be the promised ‘last’ one.

And if you fail to voluntarily part with the money, there might be physical repercussions to the extent where there might be a threat to your life.

Your Finances Will Be A Mess

6. Your Self Esteem Will Take A Hit

If all the above reasons were not enough, your self-esteem would be at an all-time low.

While you will see the fancy lives of your friends and those around you, you will only find you and your relationship struggling with an alcoholic.

While others around you would seem to be living their dream lives, you would find yourself struggling to find happiness at the very basic level, i.e., a day where your date or partner doesn’t drink.

All this will have some serious effect on your work and other areas, and you will lag behind.

Further, you will have no time left for what you actually want to do in life.

Each day would be a struggle, as mentioned earlier, and you will begin to question your life choices. Depression might kick in soon.

7. You Would Live In Constant Fear

Whether it is the fear of an assault on you or your kids or whether it is the fear of your date harming themselves due to alcohol.

Whether it is the fear of them meeting an accident due to drunken driving or whether it is the fear of them getting to blows in a bar or a club.

You will live in every kind of fear imaginable.

The longer is the duration of your relationship with an alcoholic, the greater would be the sense of fear or the sense of loss.

From the fear of physical harm to you or your date to the uncertainty regarding your future, tainted finances, etc, are just some of the surface level fears.

There would be much bigger effects on your psyche.



When an alcoholic leaves your life, you feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off your chest.

While we are not advocating about quitting up on your relationship altogether, it is what a lot of people usually end up doing.

Don’t be a part of this madness because your partner isn’t willing to change. Be a bit selfish and leave.

Now tell us what do you feel about dating an alcoholic. Do you feel your partner will change or your life is becoming increasingly difficult? Either way, comment below!

Shashank Verma

A trained theatre actor and a STEM graduate who brings perspectives and methods from these worlds into dating and relationships. Also a big time Krav Maga enthusiast and practitioner.

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