Dear Carolyn:

I have been seeing Mr. Wonderful for four months. He's got everything I'm looking for and then some baggage: He drinks waaaay too much. He's a professional by day, and after 4:30 p.m., he's at the bar drinking with clients or any random body in close proximity to him. I've confronted him numerous times about this.

He recognizes that he parties too much and promises to find other ways to release stress. To his credit, there have been times when he's been dry for days or weeks.

I've been told by friends to either accept he's a drunk, or leave him because he's set in his ways. (He's 35.)

Am I wasting my time thinking he's going to change? I've never told him to get help or I'm gone. I love him and don't want him to feel like he's alone in this battle to stop drinking.

What to Do, What to Do

You are alone in his battle to stop drinking.

Your friends are half-right, about leaving him -- but not because he's 35.

They're right because he's saying what he needs to say to keep you; he's not doing what he needs to do to save himself. They're right because he doesn't want to stop drinking.

Where they're wrong, they're very wrong.

If you "accept he's a drunk," then you help him pretend he's not killing himself.

Tell him you care too much to do that, tell him why you're leaving him, tell him when he's ready for AA, you're the friend who'll give him a ride.

Hi Carolyn:

My boyfriend and I have been dating for more than a year. We've had some hard times but have been able to get through them; we have great communication and always work things out.

I'm not marriage-minded in any way. I feel I'm too young (24) to get married, and I'd like to establish a real career first. But there's a little voice in my head that says this is not the guy I'm gonna marry and am I wasting my time? I love him very much, but sometimes I think the arguments we have are simply because of very different personalities, and no matter how much we talk they won't change.

How do I make that little voice shut up and just let me enjoy myself and see what happens?


If the little voice is telling you that you aren't enjoying yourself, then maybe you're already shutting it up a little too well.

Even if the good is really good and it's just the fighting you'd like to prevent, I can make an argument for turning up the volume on the little voice here, too.

It's telling you this isn't the guy for you, for the future, for good. So try embracing that, and using it as permission not to change him. So many fights have their roots in "I wish you'd change that," or "I will not stand for" whatever. So many fights have their roots in expectations.

So try giving yourself permission not to have any. See if there's a future in not seeing him as a future spouse, but as-is.

If the result is to become certain you don't have a future, though, make sure you tell him as soon as you know.

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