For many young people, partying is a big part of life, even before the legal drinking age. In the last month, 60% of college students between the age 18 and 22 drank alcohol, and two in three of those drinkers engaged in binge drinking behavior. Further, around 43% of those aged 19 to 22, regardless of college attendance, use marijuana.
Many young people manage to leave their partying days behind them as they move into their mid- to late twenties, but some people stay in this mindset far longer than is normal or healthy. Some people even discover partying later in life, such as through a new group of friends. Regardless of the cause, extensive partying can take a toll on things like job performance, grades in school and, of course, personal relationships.
Some people have different tolerance levels for partying, and that’s okay. If you have a partying wife or a girlfriend who loves to go out, it’s only natural to feel a little on edge about the behavior you’re seeing. This is what you need to know about identifying problem signs of partying and how to address them.
Partying While in a Relationship
In many relationships, a little partying from time to time isn’t an issue. Going out for a few drinks with friends or having too much fun at the occasional party can still be entertaining — when managed in moderation.
How much partying is acceptable in a relationships depends on the couple in question. If both members enjoy partying and want to go out on a more regular basis, that’s one thing. However, if one partner is enthusiastic about ongoing partying and the other wants to live a quieter, more responsible life, it’s not uncommon for issues to arise.
So, is partying bad for relationships? That’s not a question with one definitive answer. The level of tolerance for frequent or infrequent partying varies entirely from one person to another. However, when a propensity for partying extends past one partner’s comfort level, or when partying starts to cause financial or interpersonal strain, drugs and alcohol can absolutely pose a threat to the future of a relationship. If your wife or girlfriend is partying a little more, or a lot more, than you’re comfortable with, you may want to assess signs of a problem.
How Do I Know If My Partner Has a Problem?
If your partner is going out more than normal and coming home drunk or high on an increasing basis, it’s only natural to be concerned that a problem is developing. But how do you know for sure that it’s time to speak up?
If you can answer to yes to most or all of these questions, your partner may have an issue with partying:
- Does your partner regularly skip plans to party?
- Does your partner drink or take drugs past a healthy recreational limit on a regular basis?
- Do you have to do things like pick your partner up from bars or parties because they’re too intoxicated to drive?
- Does your partner occasionally skip work or school due to being too hung over?
- Are your partner’s grades or work performance evaluations sliding?
- Does your partner make excuses to party in inappropriate situations, like taking shots during a formal dinner or bringing a flask to a dry wedding?
- If you are a parent, do you find yourself handling more childcare responsibilities than usual due to your partner’s partying?
If you answer no to most or all of these questions, your partner may just like to party a little more than you do. It’s okay to have a different personal tolerance for partying than a partner, but if there are no signs of a problem and your partner parties responsibly, you may be facing an interpersonal problem, not a substance abuse problem.
Addressing a Problem with Partying
When the signs and symptoms of a problem first occur, it’s easy to look the other way and assume the situation will rectify itself without your interference. And perhaps it will — but that’s unlikely. If your partner’s partying is putting a strain on your relationship, you’ll likely have to speak up sooner rather than later. Bringing up problems with a partying wife isn’t going to be easy, but it’s the only way to confront the problem head-on.
Find a Quiet Time to Talk
Starting a conversation about substance abuse is always going to be challenging, but the right circumstances can make it easier. Find a quiet time to talk, like while relaxing after dinner or enjoying a hike on a weekend morning. When there aren’t any distractions or commitments standing in the way of open communication, your partner will be more willing to engage with you.
Express your concerns in an open, honest way without accusations or judgment. Outline the signs you’re seeing, like going out more often or getting drunk more frequently, in an unbiased manner. Don’t embellish or attempt to miscategorize the circumstances; your partner will recognize this as a manipulation tactic.
As you speak through your concerns, be first and foremost compassionate. Explain that you understand why partying can be compelling and that you’re concerned, not angry. Sympathize with your partner when she talks, and respond calmly and politely, even if you don’t like what she has to say.
Pointing fingers isn’t going to accomplish anything. Come prepared with some ideas for solutions that you can use to better frame the situation. Propose things like more date nights versus nights out partying, a limit on frequency or a cap on the number of drinks consumed. Be prepared that some partners will not like these kinds of ideas, but those who see troubling patterns in their own behavior may be willing to acquiesce.
It’s important to note that no matter what you think of your partner’s behavior, she’s her own person. You can’t control, force, manipulate or otherwise attempt to push change on someone who doesn’t want to change. She is entitled to live her own life, even if her choices are destructive or go against your own preferences. If your partner is unwilling to discuss change, you may need to decide whether staying in the relationship is the right for you.
When Is It Time to Draw the Line?
If you’ve tried to discuss your concerns, offer solutions, provide support and encourage healthy lifestyle choices and nothing changes, it may be time to walk away. This is true if your partner is showing signs of a problem, as well as if your partner simply likes to party in a responsible manner a little more than you and is not willing to make a lifestyle change to suit your preferences. Only you can make this decision, for better or for worse.
If you or someone you love is struggling with problematic use of drugs or alcohol, FHE is here. Our treatment programs provide comprehensive step-down care for substance use disorders of all kinds. Please contact us today to learn more.