Last year, my boyfriend moved to Japan to be with me. After he was there about six months he began to party hard, and we started to fight about his flirting and because he didn’t have a job. I admit that I was jealous and emotional, but he wasn’t being respectful or loving. Recently he ended our relationship and moved back to the United States. Now, he wants to get back together. I do care for him, but I realize that he has a drinking problem and he also called me a “jealous bitch” and shoved me. I still want him back, too. I think he would work on the relationship as I will. But we need to solve some issues first. One of these is his partying and flirting, and one is my tendency to be jealous, but he still thinks I am 100% responsible for the rift of our relationship. We’ve been talking, and he said several times that he didn’t like who he was when he shoved me. I feel that his drinking changed him and made him disrespectful and mean and that is the only reason why he didn’t know how to control his temper before he hit me. I know he’s an alcoholic but he denies it. I’m not perfect, but I’m not a drunk either. How can I get him to understand that he does have a drinking problem and that’s a big part of why we aren’t together anymore without making it seem like it’s all his fault?
Alisons’ Take: Your boyfriend flirts, is unemployed, drinks, and he isn’t (by your own words) “respectful or loving.” Worse, he has put his hands on you (I’m not sure if he was drunk at the time or not, but that is never acceptable). And; you ( by your own admission), are jealous and emotional and are telling Alison and Tony that you are sure your boyfriend is an alcoholic.
What a lovely couple you must make!
Heed this: A man who shoves or hits is abusive sober or not. You have just experienced the tip of the iceberg. Calling you derogatory names *(e.g. “Jealous Bitch”) is also abusive. This is not the kind of thing you want to hear from someone you love, and that supposedly cares for you and respects you. Your boyfriend may not like who he is when the hits or shoves you, but that’s who is really is. He’s going to continue to do it and it could get dangerous. I urge you to read another reader question from Leather and Lace advice that Tony and I answered a while back: My Boyfriend Is Abusing Me. Can you see some patterns in your boyfriend’s behavior, now?!!!
Tony and I don’t know enough about the situation to know if your boyfriend truly is an alcoholic, but if you think he is, and his behavior corroborates this, your instincts are probably correct. That said, why are you hoping to re-kindle this toxic relationship?
You can’t make an addict change, nor can you cure him. Wishing and hoping that your boyfriend will change, is not going to make it happen. You can suggest that he go to rehab and counseling, but if he denies he has a problem, and you stay with him, his problem is going to be yours, as well. In fact, even if he does sober up, it won’t change his underlying personality. You may be heading for a relationship full of abuse, violence, and tears.
I think you know what I’m going to say next, and I feel I must. From what you are saying there is no happening ending. I applaud you for wanting to help your boyfriend, but you will fail, unless he really wants help. As things stand, that doesn’t seem likely. It doesn’t matter what you said or did, or how jealous you were of his flirting, his drinking is NOT YOUR FAULT. There sadly is no magic potion you can both take to make this relationship work. If you aren’t together anymore, Jenny, please keep it that way. You will be free, and find someone without issues that can truly harm you. Tell yourself you are ready move on and then. DO IT!
Tony’s Take: Jenny, you are fighting three separate problems while only trying to solve one of them.
First off you are in Japan, and a lot of the cultural rules you grew up with do not apply. Getting drunk is an accepted social norm that is openly smiled at as long as you are a happy drunk. Secondly the women he meets in bars are bar girls, hired by the bar to put men at ease by talking to them. They do not directly flirt, but to a westerner it can look like that, they will NEVER go home with a guy ( it is a violation of their work terms and a safety concern for them).
The second issue is that there are very few if any acceptable males available to you. Most of the unattached westerners are securities traders and tend to be MOU (Masters of the Universe), so attaching to them is worse than declaring yourself dog meat.
Your third issue is that even if you meet and like a Japanese guy, a Japanese marriage is a corporation, you are there to be “the wife” as appropriate until you are there to be “the mother”. As “wife” you take care of him and if he is the oldest boy his aged parents. He will go to bars to get drunk and talk to bar girls so he does not bring his problems home, and he will find a mistress for his other needs. The only good point for you is you are culturally free to take a lover as long as you do not get pregnant by him or bring home a disease.
Getting back to your immediate problem, he hit you. This is non-negotiable. He is a lost cause because hitting you denies your existence as a person. His verbal abuse is equally as bad (note that he knows the bar girls are unavailable to him but he never explained that to you because he likes to think they are attracted to him). He does have a drinking problem and like most addictive activities he will not be rid of it until he accepts the fact and does something about it. He wants to come back because it is an easy and pleasant life for him, not just because he cares for you. You tolerate him because of the lack of alternatives in Japan. None of these things are good reasons to continue a bad relationship.