Of men

Glamour (South Africa) - - Men - What de­fines ‘al­co­holism’?

… lots of group pho­tos? DO It gives me a sense of who she sur­rounds her­self with .................................... 39% DON’T How am I sup­posed to fig­ure out which one is her? ..................................... 61%

… and shots of her do­ing the duck face? DO It’s hot! ....................... 8% DON’T Why do girls do that? ............................. 92%

What’s your num­ber-one pet peeve when read­ing a woman’s pro­file? Pho­tos that don’t show what she looks like ................... 30% Mis­spellings and bad gram­mar .......................... 28% Neg­a­tiv­ity (“I’m so tired of all the jerks”) ................... 17% Generic de­scrip­tions (“I want a guy who makes me laugh”) ......................... 11% Lengthy an­swers .............. 8%

When you’re se­ri­ous about some­one, you… Put my on­line dat­ing ac­counts on hold, but don’t delete them ...................... 72% Delete my ac­counts ....... 18% Keep them ac­tive – it’s harm­less ........................... 10%

Do you feel like you have a bet­ter chance of meet­ing a woman on­line than in real life? Yes ...................................... 43% On­line is harder! ............ 13% I’m un­de­cided ................. 44%

Why so many yeses? 39% Of men say that “It’s hard to ap­proach women in per­son.”

there’s a list I keep on my hard drive: “Things I’ve re­gret­ted do­ing while drunk.” I’ve bro­ken five iphones and dam­aged two friend­ships. Once, I woke up from a black­out naked and in a van, with an un­known man on top of me. The ther­a­pist I be­gan see­ing af­ter that asked if I had an al­co­hol prob­lem. “How much did you drink?” she asked. “Three or four vodka so­das?” I shrugged. What­ever I’d had wasn’t wildly out of sync with what every­one else was drink­ing. “But you could buy a pent­house for that money!” she said.

No, I couldn’t. I rarely paid for my drinks. Al­co­hol was ev­ery­where, from first dates to work events. In fact, the al­co­hol I had bought was gath­er­ing dust on top of my fridge. My ther­a­pist said she couldn’t see me un­less I joined a 12-step pro­gramme. So I left ther­apy and, over the next four years, my re­grets list got longer. I saw more ther­a­pists, all of whom also sug­gested I try a 12-step pro­gramme. Each time, the de­ci­sion was easy: quit ther­apy, keep drink­ing.

Un­til I was 28, and I showed up drunk to a date. We talked and or­dered pizza. I was two slices in when he said it wasn’t good. He was right, but I lashed out at him, call­ing him ridicu­lous for com­plain­ing. I stormed away, hop­ing that he’d fol­low me. He didn’t.

next three years, I oc­ca­sion­ally went to meet­ings, but my pro­gramme spon­sor didn’t like that I still went to bars with friends, even if I only or­dered a soft drink. So I stopped go­ing to meet­ings and went to happy hours in­stead. There I felt guilty af­ter one drink, and that led to a screw-it-all men­tal­ity that sent me back to the bar. Iron­i­cally, labelling my­self an al­co­holic made me stop try­ing to cut back. What was the point? I’d have to give it all up even­tu­ally.

Then I started see­ing a new ther­a­pist. “I guess I’m an al­co­holic, right?” I asked. “Maybe,” she said. From the birth of AA un­til the ’90s, al­co­holism was seen as a se­vere and pro­gres­sive dis­ease that re­quired ab­sti­nence to man­age. But at the start of the 21st cen­tury, re­searchers found that al­co­hol de­pen­dence ac­tu­ally ex­ists on a spec­trum that runs from mild to se­vere. “Some­one who can’t make it through the day with­out drink­ing is dif­fer­ent from some­one who bingedrinks at par­ties, who is dif­fer­ent from some­one who drinks a glass of wine a night,” says Pro­fes­sor Mary Ellen

and a lot of soul search­ing. My new ther­a­pist sug­gested I try mod­er­a­tion – one drink at week­end events, none dur­ing the week – as we un­tan­gled my emo­tions. I hoped th­ese more sober habits would make my en­tire life fall into place: I’d never pro­cras­ti­nate at work! No more fights with friends! But I still found my­self do­ing those things – only now, I couldn’t blame al­co­hol; I had to ex­am­ine the deeper anx­i­eties that fu­elled th­ese ac­tions. It was tough.

One tech­nique for deal­ing with al­co­hol is­sues in­volves hav­ing pa­tients eval­u­ate their drink­ing habits by do­ing a cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis, says psy­chol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Car­rie Wilkens. “Write down how you think al­co­hol helps your life,” she ex­plains. “Then list how it im­pedes you. Ask your­self: what pulls you back to drink­ing even though the con­se­quences up­set you? Un­der­stand­ing th­ese ‘ben­e­fits’ can show you what you need to change about your­self or your life in or­der to be less re­liant on al­co­hol.”

When I tried this, I dis­cov­ered that in my early 20s, I saw my drink­ing as help­ing more than harm­ing me. It made me fun – and of­ten went un­no­ticed. But as I got older, things started to shift. For one, the van in­ci­dent had se­ri­ously shaken my sense of safety. My friends started set­tling into re­la­tion­ships and stopped hit­ting happy hours ev­ery evening. Phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally, I was no longer able to bounce back eas­ily from a night out. And mount­ing anx­i­eties in my per­sonal life meant that when I did get drunk, I be­came weepy and para­noid. Fun? Not so much. I needed help.

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