Casual or social drinking is a common form of behavior, and women involved in serious romantic relationships are generally not concerned if their partners imbibe on occasion, even if they themselves are teetotalers. On the other hand, no woman wants to become involved with a full-blown alcoholic, unless perhaps she has a drinking problem of her own and is looking for someone to share in her misery. But between the extremes of normal social drinking and problem drinking is a vast gray area, and women who are dating or planning to marry men whose drinking seems to fall between casual and uncontrolled may be uncertain about whether their significant other really is having trouble with alcohol. If you are in this situation, you may be feeling frustrated, confused and in limbo. Are you worrying about nothing, jumping to conclusions, or projecting your personal fears onto an innocent party? Or should you listen to the little voices in your head telling you that something is askew, and should you confront your partner about your fears and concerns? In almost every circumstance, when you have doubts about the actions or life choices of a person you are involved in a relationship with you should speak to him about your feelings openly and honestly. You do want to be careful not to misdiagnose the problem; even if your instincts are correct and something is wrong, it might not be what you think. Is It Really about Alcohol? Putting His Behavior in the Spotlight Probably the first sign that a person has issues with alcohol is if his social activities all seem to revolve around drinking, or always take place in locations where alcohol is being consumed freely. Social drinking may be common, but if alcohol is somehow present in almost everything a man chooses to do for fun or recreation or relaxation, that would tend to suggest that his drinking has moved from social to habitual. Generally speaking, the budding alcoholic will drink every day in a wide variety of situations and for a number of alleged reasons. Even if there are no apparent signs of alcoholism or binge drinking, just the fact that this behavior has become ubiquitous is definitely a reason to be concerned. But simply drinking in normal social situations with family and friends present will not be enough for the fledgling alcoholic; it is inevitable that he will eventually start drinking when he is off on his own, outside the home, either alone or in the company of friends or acquaintances. A retreat into secretive behavior (secretive drinking behavior) will always accompany alcoholism at some point, and like temporary amnesia victims, fledgling problem drinkers will have numerous periods of missing time that are somehow never quite accounted for\u2014but in this case the discrepancies in the record will actually be based on lies rather than memory loss. Explanations about where they were or what they were doing when they were not at home will be spotty and inconsistent (which may not be obvious at first glance, but the careful observer will notice it eventually): blocks of an hour here or two hours there will be missing from the activity timeline, and if questions are asked, little will be volunteered beyond vague statements about getting caught in traffic jams, being stuck in long lines at stores, or having to spend extra time in the office because co-workers were out sick. While the occasional unexplained absence might be nothing to worry about, if there is a pattern of such mysterious disappearances, secret drinking could very well be the reason, especially if we are talking about a man whose fondness for alcohol already seems a bit out of proportion. Most men who are in the early stages of an alcohol problem will not understand what is happening to them, or will be in denial about it. But somehow, instinctually, they will still feel a need to hide their behavior from their loved ones, and this tendency to evade, prevaricate, and camouflage can provide a strong indication that someone is on the verge of falling into alcoholism. It may not be possible to catch these men in lies often, but they will slip up on occasion, and as time goes by the lies will escalate as drinking begins to cause more and more anarchy in their lives. An alcoholic\u2019s existence will slowly but surely fray around the edges, and the consequences of his behavior will require more of an effort to cover up as his disease progresses. Ultimately this process is unsustainable, and anyone close to the alcoholic who is paying attention will notice lies (large and small, about a whole host of things) starting to pile up higher than the December snow on the Alaskan tundra. Only the Truth Can Set You Free Personal relationships can only blossom when the people involved are committed to each other and are willing to share everything openly and completely. Alcoholism, in its early stages, will inevitably throw up barriers between two people in a relationship that can be difficult to surmount as long as the real problem remains hidden and unacknowledged. If your boyfriend or fianc\u00e9 is exhibiting the patterns of behavior we have just discussed, and your instincts are telling you this it is all centered on a growing problem with alcohol, follow your intuition and confront your partner. He may or may not admit what is going on, but if he cannot face the truth, your relationship will have no chance of surviving anyway\u2014and even if he is willing to admit what has been going on, the two of you will still need to shed buckets of tears and perspiration together if you expect to conquer his alcoholism and have a life together in the future. From your boyfriend or fianc\u00e9\u2019s perspective, seeking advice and possibly treatment from a qualified addiction specialist should be considered a mandatory part of his process of regeneration and healing, because even if he is only in the early stages of his disorder, he will not be able to accomplish anything constructive until he gets his drinking problem fully under control.