Troubled by my boyfriend not being able to confront issues

My boyfriend and I have almost been together a full year. While he is very affectionate and loving I am starting to think that he is a liar by omission. The first three months we dated I noticed he had a drinking problem. While I’m sensitive to it (I grew up with an alcoholic mother) he was starting to get out of control. He admitted having serious problems with it in the past but didnwant to confront it.

It finally got to the point at the end of three months where I told him that I just couldnhandle his drinking (drinking by himself in his room at inappropriate times, getting overly drunk at parties, etc.) and that I just wouldncompete with a bottle like I had to do with my mother. He begged me on his knees not to leave him and to give him a chance.

He has struggled with depression and self esteem issues his whole life and I have told him constantly that his depression would not scare me away and that he could talk to me about anything. But I have to have boundaries. I know relationships take work and you canjust throw in the towel but I am wondering about whether or not major problems in the first year mean that I should move on. Our relationship has been contingent on him having his drinking under control, and no cheating/lying, i.e the basic things you would expect from someone in a relationship.

Fast forward to now at 11 months. I’ve started to notice his drinking issue come back up. I understand how alcoholics work and I fully expected this to still be an issue because a person cannot stop drinking for another person. However, I couldntell whether he was a true alcoholic or a "hard drinker."

I have been chronically ill for years and while he does support me his tendency to lie by omission is causing me to distrust him and it’s tainting the good memories we have and the stress is really not good for my health. For instance, I came home after treatment one night a few weeks ago to find him incredibly drunk and passed out. I was in shock. While I do think I overreacted (having grown up with this behavior) I think I was right to get some distance. He couldneven communicate he was so out of it so I went to a friend’s house for the night.

I was ready to break up with him over it but he convinced me that he did not drink with the intention of getting drunk. He says he just wanted to relax after work and grabbed some wine and before he knew it he drank too much and fell asleep. He was really apologetic but it caused some major trust issues. Now I am wondering, "does he drink whenever he’s away from me?" and "why do I always have to pry everything out of him and babysit him?"

He has a shy personality but has been doing so much better with his depression and issues since I first met him but, I am starting to realize that drinking is probably a part of him that will always be there and I donknow how many episodes I can live with. That aside, I made the choice to stay with him so any future conflicts with drinking will also be on me since I canblame anyone else for me staying with him.

I dismissed that night as a fluke; even though it hurt me I looked at his behavior as a whole with drinking which has been much improved. However, there is something I am discovering about his personality that I cannot get over. Rather than talk about something uncomfortable or confront me about something he skirts around it to avoid conflict which comes back to bite him in the ass. If he would just be upfront with me than most of out issues would be resolved.

What I find most concerning is that he has mentioned a few times that his friend lives nearby and he has hasnseen her in a long time. I have told him repeatedly that he should catch up with her. I have many close friends that are male; I’m not jealous, he should see his friend. However, I have asked him in the past about his relationships and I am his first serious long-term relationship aside from an on and off one six month relationship in high school ten years ago. He seems very anxious to talk about any past dates or girls he has been involved with and I donknow why. He said that he ran into his good friend a few weeks ago while he was out and I didnthink much of it. Then, she invites us to her birthday party this week. I suddenly had this strange idea in my head that the person he dated in high school and his close friend were one in the same person. I thought to myself that I was just being paranoid but something told me to ask him. When I did, he admitted that they were the same person.

I was so hurt that he wouldnhave told me they dated unless I asked. It’s perfectly reasonable to stay on good terms with an ex; while it can be uncomfortable I am an adult and realize that this happens all the time and I would never tell him who he can and cannot talk to or see. I had a past boyfriend do that to me and it was horrible. But I tried to tell him "if there was a old friend of mine that I had recently started hanging out with but had dated in the past wouldnyou be a bit hurt by the fact that I didntell you we dated and you had to piece it together?" He said that he felt really sorry and understood how shady it looked but that he just didnwant to fight or cause an issue. My issue is not with talking to the ex, but with not being upfront about the fact that they dated.

I’m starting to see now that he avoids conflict at all cost and that it is making me distrust him and his half-truths are making him a liar in my heart. I cantell if I’m overreacting about the ex thing but it seems strange to me that he would not tell me they dated, although he claims he would have eventually it just didn"come up." I donknow what to think anymore. I know that love is not enough to keep a relationship together and I have an anxious attachment to him because of my upbringing but I donthink it’s outrageous for me to want reasonable communication and the truth.

I am no longer certain what is real and what isnbecause of his "half truths" and am questioning the whole relationship now. I donknow how to move past it or if it’s just toxic and should let it go.

Response:

Sorry, this is a very difficult situation to be in. You have a lot of issues to deal with—a boyfriend who has problems with drinking, lying, and avoiding issues. And you mention that you have an anxious style of attachment, which means that you are more likely to stay in a problematic relationship than someone with a secure style of attachment (see, attachment styles).

It is also quite possible that your boyfriend has a dismissing style of attachment. Lying, substance abuse, and avoiding issues fit the typical pattern of behavior for someone with a dismissing attachment style. If this is the case, then the problem between the two of you will be much more difficult to fix. The lying, drinking, and avoidance of issues may be exaggerated due to the combination of both of your styles of attachment—when anxious and dismissing individuals date, these issues increase in intensity and frequency and are more difficult to resolve. We have a new book coming out on this topic and would like to provide you with a free copy. In the meantime, talking to a counselor is in your long-term best interest. This problem probably won’t be fixed without a lot of (book length) advice and counseling.

Hope this helps and please contact us directly for a copy of the book.

 anxious attachment | lying boyfriend | troubled relationship

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