How and When to Tell a Love Interest, “You’re an Alcoholic.”

“How Far Along is the Relationship?” is the point to consider when you suspect that your partner is an alcoholic and needs addiction treatment, i.e., the length of time you have been seeing the other person. If this is someone you have just met, you may need a little more time to decide if what you are experiencing is just a passing friendship, a relationship that may be a long-term friendship, or something a bit more.

Looking at the time you have known this individual, has the relationship remained at the casual level—going out to a movie, or sporting event, participating in outdoor recreational activities where there are lots of other people? Or has it become more intimate, dinner dates and spending time alone on a more regular basis? If it’s the latter, you’ve already become somewhat emotionally invested in the relationship. This isn’t said to scare you. It’s just a point to keep in mind.

What is the Chemistry?

Do you feel that the other person shares a deepening connection with you? Has this person said so or indicated so by his or her actions? Have you engaged in sexual relations yet? Have you been invited to and spent time with his or her family? Does he or she have children, and is there any involvement with them at this time?

The more chemistry you both feel, the more urgent the issue becomes for you to give full disclosure.

High-functioning alcoholism is not often viewed as “regular” alcoholism either by family members, society, or even by themselves. High-functioning alcoholics do not fit the typical stereotypes such as being unemployed or homeless. Since high-functioning alcoholics can seemingly perform well, their alcohol use does not appear to be problematic. Many with undiagnosed AUD will reason that protecting family members from the truth is the best policy. 

What to Say

Only you can decide the right words to use, given your personality and that of the other individual, the situation, and the circumstances when you elect to tell this person you’re an alcoholic. But here are some suggestions on how to start:

  • There’s something I need to tell you, and I want you to know that I’m only telling you because I care about you…
  • You might have noticed that when we go out, I only order [coffee, soft drink, water, etc.]. There’s a reason for that…
  • At first, I thought that we were just friends, and I didn’t want to get into my past, but now I feel that there’s something more, or there could be something more, and I want to be totally honest with you…
  • I really enjoy your company, and it seems to me that you feel the same. So, it’s only right that I tell you a little more about myself, something that I know might make a difference in our relationship…
  • We’ve been having such a good time together lately, and I find myself looking forward to seeing you – more than I would have thought at first. To be honest, what I’m about to tell you is something that I wish I didn’t have to, but I don’t want there to be any secrets between us…
  • For a long time in my life, I’ve been closed off. I didn’t really want to share my life with anyone. Now that I’ve met you and we’ve spent some time together, I realize that I do want to open myself up. It’s important to me that you know who I am so that what we have can be based on trust and complete honesty

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