“How do you know if someone’s an alcoholic?” Sara asked me as she handed me a glass of zin.
I looked at the wine in my hand, then at her.
“Is this a way of euphemistically asking me if I think I’m a drunk?”
“No, of course not! We like to drink, but we’re not alcoholics.”
“So, who do you think is?”
“He had six drinks, and then you let him drive you home? Are you crazy? That’s worse than him being a drunk!”
“Well, I didn’t add it all up at the time, even though
it seemed like he was drinking a lot. I thought about it after. But, he didn’t even act drunk or anything. So, how do you know?”
Drinking is so ingrained in our culture,
there are probably many people who look like social drinkers but who are really alcoholics, and many people who look like alcoholics but just like to have a good time.
Good luck trying to decipher that when you’re getting to know someone.
A few years ago I had a first date-gone-wrong with
a guy I’d met online. We met for happy hour at an oyster bar in San Francisco, and as we chatted and sucked down an oyster platter, I suddenly felt the wine smack me upside the head. I hadn’t eaten all day, and here I was — half a glass of wine in me and looped! He never called again, and I don’t blame him; he probably thought I was one of those female boozers who’d end up turning all psycho
on him (although I was delightedly surprised he didn’t at least try to take advantage of me.)
There have certainly been times when I made a bad judgment call like Sara did — driving with someone who’d had too much to drink or who even had an open beer in the car. And there was a time in my life when I’d have thought, “One guy, six drinks = total alcoholic,” but it’s a little more complicated than that.
By some measures, I might be questionable. Why? Because I drink alone. Yes, well, I also happen to live alone and thus eat, sleep, cook, watch DVDs and masturbate alone, too — what choice do I have?
But when you’re dating, unless you’re in recovery or a total teetotaler, booze is often along for the ride. And, that’s OK with me; I want a guy who enjoys good wine and good food with me, and who can have a cocktail or two. I could date someone who doesn’t drink, but I might be unhappy if I couldn’t drink while we were together (still, not a deal-breaker if all else is pretty darn good).
It’s hard to figure out who’s a social drinker and who’s a boozer, especially on a first date.
Given my half-glass-and-looped first date experience, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt (although, honestly, six drinks … and then driving? A boozer or not, Sara’s date was just plain stupid!)
But, if you’ve been with someone for a while and are asking, “How do you know if someone’s an alcoholic?” well, I’m 99 percent positive you already know the answer.
- Do you drink on a first date?
- Do you pay attention to how much your date drinks?
- Do you ever worry about someone’s drinking? Your own?
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