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Can a relationship last with a drinker and a teetotaler?

(139 Posts)
BackInTheGame Mon 22-Dec-14 18:36:42

Hi everyone, sorry if this sounds ridiculous - I'm not sure in my own head whether I'm being stupid or not.

For a bit of background: A lot of my socialising involves alcohol but I definitely don't drink too much - maybe one glass of wine with dinner with friends once during the week, and maybe 4-5 drinks max (glasses of wine or g+t's) over the weekend, always at social occasions with friends. I don't get stupidly drunk (and I am a happy drunk so often just a bubblier, sillier version of myself and get tired far less quickly at parties) but like the taste of alcohol and just really enjoy the feeling of being tipsy and think parties are much more fun if people have had a bit to drink as people loosen up. All of my friends drink a similar amount to me and I don't really know anyone who doesn't drink at all, apart from one religious colleague. My friends and I however do lots of other fun activities that are alcohol-free, such as going for walks or cycle-rides, trips to the cinema, cups going to each other's houses for a cup of tea and a cake etc. With my family we would always have a glass of wine with dinner (we only meet up maybe once a month).

On mine and DP's first three dates we did a fair bit of drinking (bar for first two dates and dinner with drinks for third date) and he seemed to drink a normal amount at social occasions for the first couple of months, by which point I was hooked and fell for him. After a while though, I noticed he never wanted a glass of wine if we went out for dinner and didn't like going out to a bar or pub on a date. He would also only have one or two drinks at parties we went to and then would switch to water. It bothered me a bit as it limited the dates we could do with no bars or pubs and I like to have a drink if I'm going out for a meal but didn't feel I could if he wasn't going to, as I felt a bit alcoholic drinking on my own! So I brought it up with him and he said he just wasn't a big drinker as he doesn't like the way it makes him feel the next day and he doesn't particularly enjoy drinking anyway.

Over time it has built up into a bit of an issue as I feel embarrassed when we go out with friends and he's sticking to water (not even coke or lemonade, he doesn't like them!) whilst everyone else is tucking into wine or beer. I think it makes him seem boring or tight or anti-social given that everyone knows he doesn't have any medical, religious or alcoholism-related reasons not to drink, and it has raised some light-hearted comments. It also makes rounds difficult as if someone does get him an alcoholic drink in the first round he will nurse that one drink for about an hour so is obviously very out of sync with the rest of the group. At parties he gets tired quickly and so often wants to leave fairly early, when I (and everyone else) am having lots of fun. It also makes me feel uncomfortable if it's just the two of us out as I don't want to be the only one drinking. It also makes me sad that this isn't something we can share, as although we get on brilliantly when sober, I think we could have a lot of fun if drunk together, but it doesn't really work if I'm a bit drunk and he's sober as we're in different head spaces. What really annoys me is that he will go out and have big nights out with his friends where he does drink a fair amount. However, this is not very frequently (maybe once every couple of months), he says he hates it but has to drink a bit or his friends wouldn't invite him out, and says he always switches back to water once his friends are too drunk to realise what he's drinking.

It all came to a head this weekend when I ordered a cocktail and he once again ordered a water. I told him it was really bothering me and he said that if he's honest he's quite keen to give up alcohol altogether as he doesn't particularly like the taste, thinks it's bad for your health and wants to feel fresh the next day. He doesn't see what the problem is as he says he's completely fine with me drinking and would never judge me for it, so why do I care? This might sound silly but I'm totally gutted. I hate drinking on my own (with him there I mean, I actually never drink when I am literally on my own) as it just feels weird and wrong and I don't like getting tipsy with someone who's sober as it makes me feel like an idiot. I just feel that we want totally different lifestyles. It's not like I'm asking him to go on massive binges every week or to drink every night - I would be happy to compromise and just have say one fun date a month that involved alcohol and for him to get tipsy with me on special occasions such as Christmas and birthdays. He says he won't completely give up alcohol yet but plans to in the future and for the meantime doesn't want to be held down to any rules about when he has to drink or to feel any pressure to drink. I do understand that and don't want to be pressuring him to do something he doesn't want to do but am honestly struggling to picture a future for me with a sober partner. If he had told me he was teetotal when we met I would never have gone out with him in the first place as I would have known our clash of lifestyles wouldn't have worked.However I now deeply love him, he is so great in so many other ways and I don't want to break up with someone because of alcohol!

Please tell me if I'm being ridiculous, and I would be especially grateful to hear from anyone who is in a relationship where one person drinks and the other doesn't and how it works in practice? Does anyone actually feel comfortable drinking at a bar or similar when their partner is not?

Thanks so much.

BackInTheGame Mon 22-Dec-14 18:37:20

wow, sorry that was so long! clearly needed to get a lot off my chest!

Namechangeyetagaintohide Mon 22-Dec-14 18:41:17

I actually think the problem is you. I don't drink (medical reasons) and I don't give a shiney shite if other people drink.

I don't think I'd want a friend like you though.

But you seem to really be judging him for his choice no ? He isn't judging you is he ? He's said so.

I'm sorry if that's not what you wanted to hear but it is how it came across to me.

SolidGoldBrass Mon 22-Dec-14 18:41:38

I am fond of drinking myself, but I do think you are being a bit silly and unfair. It's up to him whether he drinks alcohol or not, and how much. You've said he's not nagging you or pulling a disapproving face when you want to have a drink.
TBH it's possible that he has had a problem with alcohol in the past, which he has overcome, and for you (and your friends) to push him to drink more is actually harmful behaviour. Even if he hasn't had a problem, you are still (collectively) being childish and bullying. It is absolutely none of your friends' business why someone doesn't want an alcoholic drink, or more than one drink, and for civilised adults it's perfectly acceptable for someone to say politely that they will not join in rounds but buy their own drink (some people don't drink much, some don't drink alcohol and some *can't afford to buy rounds.*)

Sapph1e Mon 22-Dec-14 18:43:03

I actually went on one date with a guy and when I got there I realised that he didn't drink at all. I didn't go out with him again, a lot because of that.

I have no idea about the rights and wrongs but what I do know is that socialising like You describe is an inherent part of my lifestyle and I couldn't be with someone who felt so differently.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 22-Dec-14 18:44:06

Ok, you have a problem. I'm teetotal like your partner. I have no problem with people drinking around me but I would hate to feel pressurised to drink with you. This is exactly what you're doing. I know you think your drinking is moderate but to me, it's quite high and you like doing 'drinky' things like meeting in bars. I wouldn't, it's noisy and draughty and I'd rather sit and chat over dinner or go for a walk or something that doesn't always revolve around drinking.

Why will you not let him drink water? If he has water with a slice of lemon in it and some ice would that help?

Your lifestyles don't need to clash but you need to respect his choices as he respects yours. He's not judging you (from what you've posted), so why are you judging him and even worse, trying to change him?

HangingInAGruffaloStance Mon 22-Dec-14 18:44:25

I don't really understand.

When DP and I met we had similar drinking habits. Then I had to stop completely for medical reasons.

It has never been an issue. He is glad that I can drive when we go out for a meal and make him a bacon sandwich when he is hungover! He says he drinks less at home because I don't drink with him, but he doesn't mind.

I would only have thought that the drinker, non-drinker thing would be a problem if the non-drinker was preachy about it. It doesn't seem like this is the case. You sound a bit teenagery! If one of your main criteria for a long term partner is that they can take a drink you won't struggle to meet someone else at least.

KatoPotato Mon 22-Dec-14 18:45:47

My DH has never drank. Ever. For no reason, medical or otherwise.

He also doesn't give a shiny shite what anyone thinks and neither do I.

I realised a wee while ago I drank to make the company of others more bearable. I decided to change the company I keep.

You're over thinking this.

LovleyRitaMeterMaid Mon 22-Dec-14 18:46:40

I'm really sorry but you are sounding ridiculous.

I drink, dh doesn't. In the 15 years we've been together he's been drunk maybe 6 times.

I can hand on heart say it does not bother me. There's always a designated driver! He is sociable, we entertain at home. We go out for meals where he makes a joke every time about only needing one glass with the bottle of wine. He isn't a misery. He's just not drunk.

I'll have a few drinks in the house, he pours a great g&t, and never muss each other head wise.

I don't know what to suggest op but I think it's your relationship with alcohol that needs addressing. It's really not on to be taking the hump with someone for not drinking.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 22-Dec-14 18:46:55

Reading back through your post... is alcohol really so important to you? You sound as if you can't picture your life without it. sad

BackforGood Mon 22-Dec-14 18:47:43

I can't see any reason why a relationship can't work between one person who drinks sometimes and one who doesn't - I know couples like that, and I can't really see the issue.
However, I can't understand why you have such an issue with it. Indeed, it would be a bonus to never have to take turns to drive home, if there were anything to comment on at all. He'll still go to places where there is alcohol ~ different if he wouldn't enter those premises, I could see that being restricting, but I genuinely can't see why this would bother you confused

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 22-Dec-14 18:47:54

Posted too soon - you can't picture your partner in your life without a drink in HIS hand. That's wrong with everything you've posted. It's tragic really.

Trills Mon 22-Dec-14 18:48:57

I think it's OK to reject someone as a potential partner for any reason you like, even if it is petty.

If you feel that any particular feature or opinion or behaviour of theirs will make you less happy with them than you would be with someone else, you don't have to be with them.

TortoiseInAShell Mon 22-Dec-14 18:51:31

My DH is alcoholic but he managed to keep it well under wraps for the first few years.

At firs to felt really awkward drinking socially if he didn't, it felt like I was flirting with his worst enemy! But he keeps actively encouraging me to, so I've started to tentatively feel able to.

I wouldn't think twice about drinking with someone who doesn't. My only awkwardness with DH was because he has a problem with it. I found it fairly normal practice for at least one person to be nominated driver anyway, we couldn't always afford a taxi! Some friends didn't want to drink before a long 14 hour hospital shift the next day so it just seemed quite normal.

MsUumellmahaye Mon 22-Dec-14 18:53:35

Ye i agree its your issue. My dh doesnt drink at all and i love to, and its never been a problem!! If i want a good drinking night i go with the pals. There are loads of stuff we do together that doesnt involve booze. It has never ever crossed my mind to be bothered.

peasandlove Mon 22-Dec-14 18:53:49

It would bother me. I don't drink a fraction of what I used to for the same reasons as the ops partner but when I used to be a party girl I wouldn't have been interested in a non drinker.

blueshoes Mon 22-Dec-14 18:54:07

You are being ridiculous and sound like you have a problem with your self-image and drink.

XmasEveDallas Mon 22-Dec-14 18:54:59

DH is a big drinker, I'm damn near teetotal - because of his drinking. I don't disapprove or give him looks or nag, but I hate it, hate how boring it makes him, hate how nights out always have to involve alcohol, hate that I'm always the driver and how he is always "aww just one more love, aww come on, don't be boring, you're so boring, it's only 11/12/1, the night's early yet"

I used to much prefer him sober and look forward to seeing him in the daytime when he didn't have a drink on board. Now I couldn't care less - but then I've had over 12 years of it. At the start he was fun and it didn't matter, now I'm bored of it.

Joysmum Mon 22-Dec-14 18:55:22

I think you have a problem sad

I'm a drinker, my DH comes from a tea total home. DH isn't anti drinking but doesn't tend to drink, rarely drinks.

I'd never pressure him to drink, never see drinking as being a sign that you're more fun than somebody who doesn't confused

Jingalingallnight Mon 22-Dec-14 18:56:59

I completely understand and was in exactly the same position with exh. He would only drink on a boys night out and I felt like an alcy if I wanted a glass of wine with a meal on a Friday night. He also didn't want to socialise in bars or pubs and if I suggested going out for a drink, he would say why? He really didn't see the point.

As it happened I drank less as the years went by and our social life changed after children too so it became less of an issue.

For you, as he is not disapproving of your drinking, I would just carry on and enjoy yourself and let him get on with sipping his water if he is happy enough.

HoHonutty Mon 22-Dec-14 18:59:29

I don't drink and you would piss me right off.

I think you should break up with him and let him.find someone less controlling.

purpleroses Mon 22-Dec-14 18:59:37

You sound very like me with your drinking, and my DH hardly drinks either, though he does have a medical issue that means it's not good for him to drink too much, and that also provides a convenient excuse.

I do think it might be nice to get a bit drunk together once in a while but overall it doesn't bother me too much. I certainly think it should be OK for someone not to drink if they don't want to. And DH always drives :-)

Namechangeyetagaintohide Mon 22-Dec-14 19:00:02

I'm quite hurt by the implication from a couple of posters that I must be boring if I don't drink. I hope any potential partner of mine can see past it. It's not even a choice for me really.

Cabrinha Mon 22-Dec-14 19:01:04

You sound very odd.
I'm teetotal for no better reason that I just don't like the taste of it.
I've had plenty of friends, and double figure boyfriends and no-one has given a flying fuck.

This is utterly YOUR obsession. Your choice to feel you can't drink if he isn't drinking. Are you 15?

fuctifino Mon 22-Dec-14 19:01:26

I think you are the one with the problem.

He is happy for you to drink, conversely, you should be happy with his choice.

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