DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: So I’m sure you get a bunch of emails from confused college students, but I think this one might be a little out of the ordinary. So here goes, and please forgive my confused ramblings. I’m in college, and I have a good friend who I’m going to call X.
We were at a party, a pretty low-key one (I LOATHE traditional college basement keg parties with a burning fiery passion, you have no idea), and we were all varying levels of intoxicated. I was still pretty lucid; despite being a little heavyset, I’m kind of a lightweight, and I’d kind of reached that “still lucid and in control, but the room is wobbly a bit” stage which is when I know it’s time to cut myself off if I want to get home in one piece.
So over comes X, I’m pretty sure sloshed out of her mind, and starts coming on to me pretty hard – physical proximity, hand in some… uncomfortable places, pretty much everything short of just crawling on top of me. She kept making some not-so-subtle references that even my brick wall-level of social stupidity couldn’t stop. Eventually I just flat out told her that I wasn’t going to put out. She seemed pretty cut up about that and left the party not soon after.
Thing is, while this girl is jaw-droppingly attractive, I had a few hangups.
– It really wasn’t a good place,
– It was an even worse time,
– We were both varying levels of drunk,
– I’m a virgin and that was definitely not the right time to punch my card,
– I consider her to be a platonic friend, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY:
– She has a boyfriend back home, who I’ve met and is pretty much a great guy, and they’ve been dating for a few years now (they met in high school, and we’re all juniors).
I don’t blame her for something she did under the influence of alcohol, because I’m pretty sure she genuinely loves this guy, but it’s still a little worrying.
My question isn’t “Should I pursue a relationship?” because holy crap, no, bad idea, creeper move, et cetera. It’s “How do I deal with the idea that someone I consider to be a friend may have something more in mind, despite having a boyfriend?” She hasn’t said anything about it, and says she doesn’t remember much from the party, but the situation is never far away when we interact these days, and I would truly regret losing my friendship with her because of a drunken indiscretion.
I don’t know. I guess I’m asking how I should deal with this situation in a way that leaves all parties unhurt.
– Confused And A Bit Nervous
DEAR CONFUSED AND A BIT NERVOUS: First of all, CaBN: you did the right thing all around. First of all: knowing your limits and when to stop drinking is a valuable skill to cultivate, especially in college. This means you can enjoy a little inebriation without being at a point of doing something you’ll regret later, on top of your hangover (and trust me: I have been there, done that and puked on the t-shirt). More importantly though is recognizing that your friend was too drunk to consent, even as she was all but climbing into your lap and wiggling. Ignoring questions of whether hooking up would’ve caused unnecessary drama, she was in a place where consent was more or less impossible. So, good for you man.
Also: you were right. While there’re plenty of ways to lose one’s virginity, a drunken fumbling hook-up ain’t one you necessarily want. Especially with the attendant drama that would come with it.
Now how do you deal with this? Well… mostly you don’t.
Here’s the thing: you’re making some assumptions that aren’t necessarily warranted by the facts. I know, in vino veritas and all that but you don’t want to round up drunken behavior to “clearly she wants more.” She was hitting on you, yes… but that doesn’t mean that she necessarily has more in mind. The thing to remember about alcohol is that it’s a disinhibitor and magnifier; it’ll amplify thoughts or feelings that’re otherwise not terribly significant and tear down the walls that’d keep you from acting on them otherwise. So if we assume she thinks you’re cute and was feeling a bit horny and lonely, a drunken haze can turn that from “well he’s cute” to “yeah, some oral WOULD be nice tonight” to “Bet CaBN’d do me *hic*!”
However, in the cold, bruised, hungover light of sobriety, one tends to look back on the things they did the night before and think “oh God, did I actually do that?” And trust me: that’s ten different kinds of embarrassment and humiliation that’s a lot harder to power through than awkward flirting mistakes. And if she does remember her actions at the party… well it’s a lot easier to feign having been blackout drunk and hope everyone buys it, and just lets things get swept under the rug. Which I suspect is what your friend is doing.
So the best, friendship-preserving-est thing you can do in this case? Play along with her and let that moment be stuffed down the memory hole. Take it as a compliment that she thought of you when her drunk self decided it was hook-up time, but let sober-her keep up the illusion that nothing happened. Years later, it can be something the two of you laugh about. But for now… it was all just a bad dream and she’ll thank you for running with that story.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: At the beginning of the year I had started seeing a girl who I had spent a long time talking to on Tinder at the end of the year previous. We had both hit it off before meeting face-to-face, and given how we went to the same University we decided to see how we enjoyed each other’s actual company. We got along really well, but I think we both were (Self-admittedly) not at a place where we could have an actual meaningful relationship with one another.
We still kept things going though for a few months, and communicated fairly well. We had shared a lot about our pasts, particularly our exes, one of which was continually bothering her with abusive post-breakup messages (Her words, not mine, I knew nothing about the guy), and even though we never called each other boyfriend and girlfriend we kept seeing each other primarily because we got along so well. There were some growing pains associated with scheduling hanging out, and also myself attending therapy due to my own stresses and things. It was by far the most intimate set of experiences I had ever had with somebody, which made it feel all the worse whenever she decided to cut things off. We met up one day and she told me she didn’t want to continue because it was apparent to both of us that ‘feelings’ were actually starting to become a real thing. Of course I had been having feelings develop, probably a bit faster than she had because that tends to be how my brain works, and on the day despite being pretty visibly torn up we parted ways amicably and I didn’t even turn around when walking away.
Only the thing is, for longer than I’d like to admit I guess I hadn’t really gotten over her. Maybe it was the intimacy thing, or maybe it was all the stresses of work and school that made me feel like I needed to have her back, but I tried to not let that want take over my actions, even though my thoughts would often drift to her at all hours of the day when I really didn’t want them to.
When we did cut things off, she was also kind of vague about what she had ‘needed to do’ in order to ‘better herself’ as we promised each other we would do. She didn’t tell me what, and she seemed pretty emotional at the idea so I didn’t pry her even though I really wanted to. I kept thinking about that for months, and I still kind of do.
So fast-forwarding through the last few months leading up to now, she’d play on my mind all the time and I’d even (Stupidly) find myself drawn to message her or check her Facebook page, because I had (Stupidly) never got around to unfriending her. So this kept going, and just as I was feeling good about my current schedule/workflow/basically lots of stuff, I’m scrolling through FB and suddenly BOOM, ‘Your Ex is in a relationship. With her Ex’.
Not gonna lie, Doc, I was really taken aback. I was jealous, pissed, sad, confused, basically everything. Thankfully I was always pretty good handling that stuff so, I messaged her saying basically, “Hey, I saw you’re with somebody else now. I hope that goes well.” and also that I was now choosing to remove her from my social medias, a step I acknowledge I probably should have done quite a while ago.
I guess my problem in this instance was, well, I can’t/never will really understand exactly what compelled her to get back with her ex when she had made it clear to me she didn’t feel like being in any relationship, hence our splitting. I know that’s a dangerous line of thinking and probably not worth it, but my brain can’t help but feel like it’s being fooled around with. This has gotten me very anxious and raised a lot of questions; the most prominent few being: ‘Is even opening up to anybody worth it?’, ‘Do I make myself an easier target by showing affection to people?’, ‘Is this even how a man is supposed to respond?’ because I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve heard a lot of contradictory answers for that last one. So yeah, I assuming that thinking too deeply in to these negative emotions can potentially only lead to a lot of bad things like hating all girls, feeling more insecure, never opening up again, and whilst know all these are really bad…
Part of me feels like it WANTS to feel that way…maybe because it’s easier perhaps…I don’t know, I can come up with lots of potential answers to things but I’m never really confident enough to go for any one wholeheartedly…
I’d very much like your thoughts on whether these sensations are normal/work-throughable, and what your advice may be to help go forward.
Thanks a bunch,
Random Irish Guy
DEAR RANDOM IRISH GUY: Here’s the thing about dating that a lot of people don’t like to talk about: there’s a lot of random chance involved. It’s not just chance in meeting someone but meeting them at the right time. Sometimes you can meet someone who’s awesome and perfect for you, but when you or they are at a point in your lives where a relationship just isn’t feasible, no matter how much you might want one. There’re times when, yes, you may like someone but realize that you’re in a place where catching feels would just be a bad idea. It may be recognizing that you’re falling for someone at a time when you don’t have the emotional bandwidth… or it may be one person realizing that their casual partner is starting to be a bit less casual.
And that leads to another cold truth: when someone says “I’m not interested in anything serious right now,” there’s usually a silent “…with you” attached to the end. This doesn’t mean that they don’t like you – especially if you two were dating and hooking up – but it does mean that they’re interested in a specific kind of relationship. And from the sounds of it, you wanted a more committed one than she did. And in that case, the kindest thing to do was to end it sooner, rather than later. It may have hurt like a mother, but breaking things off quickly and cleanly was a lot kinder than letting things continue on until you were far more invested and the break up would be even worse all around.
As for why she went back to her a
le ex? Well… the short version is: people are goddamn complicated and their decisions aren’t always going to make sense to folks on the outside. There’s almost always more to the story than we know or will ever know. Maybe he turned over a new leaf. Maybe the power of nostalgia brought her back and she’s not ready to leave the cycle of “break up, get back together, break up again”. There’s really no way of knowing and so you’re going to have to just make your own closure here.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think you were being used, RIG. I think she was up for one kind of relationship, you were up for another and she recognized that things were just going to get more painful the longer it went on. Unfortunately… that’s dating for you. It’s a full contact sport, and sometimes it’s just going to suck for a bit. So the best thing you can do: accept that it happened, mourn the end of the relationship and let it go so you can move on.
There’re other women out there, women who’re right for you and in the right place in life for the relationship you’re looking for. You just have to find them.
Good luck, man.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com)