beer at a barFinding someone who you can see a future with can be challenging. When you’re dating, it can be difficult to figure out if the person you’re dating is just a social drinker or something much more serious.

If you’re concerned about the drinking habits of the person you are dating, here are a few red flags to look out for:

Regular drinking: Recoveryranch.com suggests that having a beer at home at the end of the work day doesn’t necessarily mean the person you are dating is an alcoholic. However, if every time you make plans, it starts with a drink or a bottle of wine, it might be a regular thing. Does it seem like alcohol is the only way they can relax or unwind at the end of the day? If alcohol is the go-to solution to every problem, this could indicate that dependency is an issue.

It runs in the family: Addiction can be genetic. Of course, not all children of alcoholics become addicted to alcohol, but if you know that it runs in his family and you’re noticing other signs, it might be an indication that there’s a problem there.

Opportunity: Sometimes when celebrating a big event—an anniversary, a wedding, a promotion, a birthday—going out for drinks is celebratory. If the person you are dating is making up reasons to “celebrate” by having drinks, it might be that she is trying to make her drinking habits seem normal by creating excuses to go drink.

If you’ve met someone you really like and would like to have a future with but are concerned about their relationship to alcohol, there are a few things you can do.

Communicate: This step is difficult, but important. It’s important to know where your relationship stands. Does she think that she has a drinking problem? Is it something that she would be willing to work on?

Find help: If your partner sees that she has a problem and is willing to work on it, there are many resources that will offer help. The most famous is Alcoholics Anonymous. And whether your partner chooses to get help or not, Alanon is for you—the friends and family of alcoholics. That’s a place where you can get support, meet others who have been where you are, and decide whether being in a relationship with an alcoholic is something you want to take further.

Proceed with caution: The Alcoholism Guide reminds us that an active alcoholic won’t stop drinking unless he or she wants to, no matter how much they profess their love to you. And unfortunately, not all recovery attempts have a happy ending. Eric Charles writes for A New Mode that if you’re uncertain whether or not you would want to be there in the worst case scenario, this might be a good time to decide against being in a relationship before you get in any deeper.

There is nothing wrong with being a supportive friend while they figure out their alcohol addiction, but you should not go into a relationship thinking you can change them. If you are already committed, you might consider seeing a therapist, alone or as a couple. It can really help to have someone who can hear both sides of the story.

If you’d like to set up a time to meet up with Reka, you can contact her by phone at 402-881-8125, by email at reka@omaha-counseling.com, or via Twitter or Facebook.

photo credit: Empty beer glass via photopin (license)