During the course of our long-term relationship, my partner and I have changed, but it is when we drink that we become who we used to be.
[According to a scientific study, couples who drink together, stay together. To explain that there is indeed truth to the study, a TBS reader has graciously shared his experience in that kind of relationship – Ed.]
I don’t want you to view this as a cautionary tale, because it isn’t. It’s an entirely beneficial situation. Sure, it’s a vice and perhaps I can’t see the vodka for the wheat, but shared intoxication is what keeps us together.
My partner and I have been dating long enough for it to be viewed as long enough. Long enough to ensure the honeymoon phase is beyond us, long enough to make the fatigue of everyday life remove our drive to take the extra yard. We choose nothing over something, space instead of affection, and sleep instead of all, and that’s normal.
We’re safe and comfortable with each other, so we fight. But, it’s not the normative relationship fighting as I’ve experienced, nor is it enough for us to reconsider “us.” It’s just intolerance toward who we are.
So, we drink. While we don’t binge, we do so enough to blunt the metaphorical knives we swing at each other.
Honestly, when we drink, we are who we used to be and who we were attracted to. Sharp wit quietly directed toward a third party, arms slung warmly around hips, the challenges of the day irrelevant, and untouched. We both follow a kind of juvenile impulse, the city under our feet sings, instead of slowly killing us.
While the location may change (be it pub, lounge, or couch), the enabler does not.
I felt confused and conflicted … but I’ve come to peace with it. The benefits far outweigh the negative. We do it to save us from becoming ugly in each other’s eyes. If that means we’re both counting the minutes until the next happy hour, so be it.
I long mistook it for the benefits of date night before realizing the needle that weaves its way, before I connected the evenings. Always drunk, so very drunk. However, as booze enables the memories of the romantic “we,” the morning makes us forget as we wake to those two who we were before the cork was popped. Under the conditions of a hangover, markedly so.
Six months ago, when I made the connection, I felt confused and conflicted, for there is as great a benefit as there is a problem. The “us” that I love the most is the two who are unable to drive or ruthlessly thumb our noses at the pointless rules of society that keep us.
But since then, I’ve come to peace with it. The benefits far outweigh the negative. We do it to keep the idealized versions of us alive, throwing hopeless emotion, even if we no longer feel, to save us from becoming ugly in each other’s eyes.
If that means we’re both just counting the minutes until the next happy hour, so be it. The idealistic grand versions of us still exist – kept like a genie, so on any given night, we can do as kids do, and “pop bottles” and be kids again.