What to do about a close friend who seems to have become an alcoholic--and cemented his new status of "repeatedly gets so drunk he black-outs" in my mind by telling me details of his sexual fantasies involving myself and his wife (my former best friend)? Bonus features: super long background story!
posted by anonymous to human relations (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I know this might seem really simple, but it's been a month since the latest incident and the apology email he sent, and I still don't know what to do. My profuse apologies for the length.
Ellen and I were best friends for 8 years but she is ridiculously bad about staying friends with anyone non-local, so we drifted apart in college, then when she moved back into the area, we got close again, culminating when she asked me to be maid of honor for her otherwise-family-only wedding. I even had the privilege of signing her marriage license to Nate as a witness.
Nate's overall a great guy, seriously. When I met him, I told Ellen that he was perfect for her because "he's basically me, except a dude." In my MoH speech, I joked that Nate and I probably were meant to be better friends than Ellen and I ever were--one of those jokes that is especially funny-in-a-wincey-way in hindsight because it came true. Once Ellen and Nate moved to the coast three years ago, she lost touch, once again, being far more of an acquaintance than a close friend.
Nate, however, was seemingly adrift. He couldn't find a job, and because he was home all day for the first year after that move, and I'm still a student, we started talking regularly over IM and we've talked quite a lot over the last three years. If you had asked me 6 weeks ago, I would've called him one of my closest friends. He's a great listener, a laid-back guy, and he respects it when I call him on his shit, as well as being able to provide a perspective for me (sort of the "typical American dream" of getting married after college and getting ready to have kids) that most of my friends aren't living.
His drinking was a problem while he wasn't working, but he blamed it on not working, and from what I know, he did majorly cut down again once he got employment. Problem is, it crept back up. At the beginning of this year (at least a year since he started work) he told me that he was drinking 6+ beers every night, hiding the empties so that Ellen wouldn't see them, and much more than six beers when Ellen wasn't around.
I tried a few things to get him to see where his problem was heading, some of which were way dumber than others, including one night in April where he admitted (while drunk, of course) that he was attracted to me and we talked about it fairly openly. But, aside from his initial confession (which was pretty explicit, altho I never returned the sentiment), it was not in a sexual sense, more in a "what do you feel like you'd get from cheating on Ellen that you're missing right now" sense. I guess I was hoping that he'd take that idea of "whoa, I just contemplated cheating on my wife with the woman who was her MAID OF HONOR" as a rock bottom-type moment. (Spoiler: He didn't.)
I actually threw up because of the intense guilt I felt afterwards, so I explained, and he agreed, that talking about any attraction was a boundary line I could never feel OK crossing again. (I continue to feel super guilty about this-- I'm not entirely sure why, I didn't WANT him to be attracted to me, I haven't been flirting with him, I didn't agree to cheat with him in person or encourage his fantasies... so I don't know.)
I'd been single for a year and a half while all of this was going on, but about 6 weeks ago I started an exclusive relationship with a new guy, Justin, who I'm really excited about. (And continue to be! He's awesome :D) I told Nate about Justin pretty much immediately, earlier in the day of The Incident, and we talked about Justin for awhile, at least half an hour. Then I left to go do something else, and got back to my computer around 10pm Seattle time.
Nate was around again, and he started messaging me, complaining that he was really uncomfortable and he felt incredibly guilty. I was really worried because I thought maybe they'd had a fight, and asked him what was wrong. He said that Ellen was gone, that he was lonely, that she was never around. His messaging style was Very Obvious Drunk, and then he started talking about how he was lusting after me and he thought [x body part] of mine was my best quality, things like that.
When I told him that I thought he was UPSET, not horny, and that I didn't want to hear about that stuff, he ... attempted to change the subject by saying he wanted to have a threeway with Ellen and me and he knew I'd be into it...? Yeah, I got nothing.
So then I reminded him that I was in a relationship and that also this kind of stuff is Not Okay, he ... congratulated me on my new relationship, like we hadn't spent half an hour earlier that day (when he wasn't drunk, granted) talking about it. That's when I got really fed up and blocked him, at which point he texted me repeatedly.
I ended up trying to call Ellen (who was "out with friends") because I felt like I needed to give her a heads-up that, hey, your husband is black-out drunk alone in your apartment, you might want to check up on that-- whereupon she said, after ten minutes, "I know, it's a problem" and nothing else. Direct quote, btw. So obviously it's not entirely smooth sailing and happy days for their relationship. (This was the first time he's talked to me and been so obviously drunk while alone--I'm in no way anyone's mother, certainly not Nate's, but the quantity of booze & hard liquor he'd told me he'd consumed was staggering and I was honestly worried about him, even though he'd really skeeved me out with the explicit I AM HORNY info, which is why I didn't block him as soon as he started with the sex stuff.)
He sent me an apology dripping with apparent sincerity two days later, saying he's cut out drinking entirely until December and he realizes he has a problem, blah blah, all of that great stuff. That's great, and I'm really happy for him IF he manages to pull it off, but ... what the fuck, dude. You basically treated me like a sexual vending machine the last time we talked (bisexual woman = 3some apparently), completely disregarding the boundaries that I set as necessary for the friendship, and ... I have no idea where to go from here.
It's been over a month since he sent me that apology email, and while I miss him as a friend, I don't miss that asstastic douchebag of a drunk that thinks it's totally okay to basically textually assault me.
I'm worried that he'll keep drinking, but more than that, I'm worried that I'll get overinvolved again (because I'm the only friend he talks to about this shit! Maybe I have a DUTY to stay friends with him?) and worse than even that, what if I can't maintain the boundaries that make me feel OK with being friends with him? (That's my fault, right? Should I have just blocked him to begin with, back in April? Should I just never talk to him again? But I care about him!) What kind of boundaries SHOULD I be setting?! He's supposedly an adult; even if he's fucking shit up, I can't fix it for him, no matter how much I want all of my friends to be happy... right? I keep going back and forth on all of this.
For the love of a plate of beans, help me find some clarity here. (If for some masochistic reason you want even more details, alcoholic.overshare at gmail can hook you up.)