He’s different with his friends

This letter is about Mike. Not to be confused with Mike.

Dear Meredith,

I have been seeing Mike for 7 months. I am 33 and he is 30. We had been friends for four years before we officially became a couple. Although there was always an attraction and a spark between us, we never dated. He asked a few times, but I never wanted to because I thought he was somewhat immature.

In the last year I noticed that Mike seemed to be maturing. We talked again about taking our relationship beyond friendship, and this time I was ready to give it a chance. I wasn't sure that a friendship could transition into a romance, but I have been happily surprised. He is a fantastic partner and I truly love him. When it's just us, he is wonderful – he is incredibly loving and supportive, he spends time with my family and friends, we communicate well, and the sex is great. We talk about our future and he says he can't wait to move in together and start a family. So, on to the problem.

When we're around his friends, or when he's on social media, it's like he's a completely different person than the one he shows to me. His friends (and Mike too) are snarky, obnoxious, immature, talk about drinking all the time, love to get drunk, and joke about how awful marriage and kids are. I see posts on social media or hear stories of what happens when I'm not around and I get disgusted by his/their behavior (as one example, getting into a fight with somebody who complained the group was being too loud at an outdoor movie). I would never want to date a person who acts like this. The confusing part is that he is so different when it's just us.

I also have strong concerns (that I have voiced to him on several occasions) about how much alcohol he consumes. He is in a band and surrounded by people who party hard and where drugs are easily accessible. He says he understands my concern and has cut down (he never does hard drugs), but I still think he drinks quite a bit. If I had to guess, I would say he has more than 20-25 drinks per week. I know how hard it is to find a partner who is loving and truly seems all in. At the same time, I see things that concern me and I struggle to know which one is the "real" Mike or what to do from here. Do you have any advice for me?

– Split Personalities, North Carolina


"I would never want to date a person who acts like this." That line says it all.

I want to say that Mike will become the guy you love full-time as he gets older, but ... will he? He likes his friends and he likes his life. He might always be the guy who's rude and confrontational at a movie. He might always be the guy who's snarky on social media.

It's difficult to find a great partner who's all in, but you're only all in with part of him. It's time to tell Mike what you're really looking for. Based on what you've told us, it's also probably time to move on.

Readers? Will he change over time? Can she live with this? 20-25 drinks a week?

– Meredith