My boyfriend dated his ex for four years, and had very strong emotions for her. When they broke up, he began drinking and became an alcoholic. Despite the four years it has been since they broke up, in the year we’ve been dating, constant mentions of her and even obsessive contact has been an issue, yet he swears they could never be together again. Is it possible that his chronic drinking is preventing him from creating new memories with me (to a point) while keeping the memory and emotions associated with her fresh in his mind? Essentially, did his alcohol abuse prevent him from ever really moving on?

A: I think you are asking a very good question, but I don’t think it’s the right one. While I don’t know the answer to your question , I do know that this cannot be a satisfying relationship for you if he’s talking about his ex-girlfriend excessively, contacting her and doing it all the while he knows it upsets you. The real question is why you are staying with him? Regardless of if it’s a drinking issue or an unresolved love issue, the end result is that you not being treated well.

My suggestion is to focus on whether or not this relationship, as it is right now, is enough for you. Not its potential, but as it is right now. If he hasn’t changed in four years and hasn’t been able to curb his behavior in spite of knowing how difficult it is for you, you’ll want to question whether or not staying in the relationship is the right thing.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral