How best to confront a friend about inappropriate drunken/buzzed behavior when they don't have many other friends?
October 1, 2008 9:08 AM   Subscribe

How best to confront a friend about inappropriate drunken/buzzed behavior when they don't have many other friends? (Apologies for lengthy explanation below).

During a short trip six months ago, I met a girl (I'm XX as well, we're both mid-twenties) who just happened to be moving to my city. I gave her my contact information and encouraged her to get in touch when she moved. We quickly became friends after she relocated and I often invited her to join my friends and I so she could expand her social circle. Since I was her first and only friend here, she sometimes would refer to me as her "best" friend, which I found flattering, though I didn't feel the same way. With our budding friendship, she became privy to details of my dating life (especially regarding two people), and she initially seemed supportive and capable of exercising discretion regarding the discussion of and behavior around such details/people when I divulged them. However, two incidents have made me question her trustworthiness, especially as they relate to her drunken behavior.

1. My closest male friend briefly interned in my city over the summer, and he and I had unresolved, previous history that my female friend knew about. She and I joined him for drinks one night, and I left them together at the bar after a few drinks. The next day, he told me they both drank too much, blacked out, and hooked up. She initiated the physical contact. I didn't mind because I wanted him to move on, though he expressed guarded embarrassment over the incident. She called me that day and told me about everything but the hooking up, saying she slept on the couch and that she hoped I wasn't upset. I bluntly asked her if anything else happened to offer her a chance to share her perspective, and she denied everything. I didn't want to belabor the point because I didn't want to betray my better, closer friend's trust by repeating what he told me and the incident itself wasn't a big deal to me. However, her denial and lying bothered me, though I decided to let it go and give her the benefit of the doubt.

2. Tonight, an old love interest with whom I didn't part on the best terms joined us for a show, and I alerted her before the show that he would be coming and asked her not to make a big deal about it because I was over it. Once we were all together and having a few drinks, she made numerous inappropriate comments (e.g. interrupting him when he said "sorry" about something irrelevant and interjecting "you should be sorry" as it related to our past; loudly joking about how weird it was that he was there; and inviting him to an upcoming event I'm hosting that I hadn't told him about). After giving her many looks and ignoring her comments, I firmly asked her to stop when he stepped away, though her erratic behavior continued throughout the evening. I explained to my guy friend that she was drunk and he seemed to understand, though I'm now extremely irritated with her for not respecting or listening to me.

So (surprise!) it seems she can't control herself when she drinks. I want to call her out on her behavior, but how, given I am her only semi-close female friend in our city?

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Just talk with her about it. She did something that was not acceptable to you. The fact that you're the center of her small social circle should not stop you from speaking with her about it.
posted by onhazier at 9:19 AM on October 1, 2008


Does she seem to have friends from her past location?

If not there might be a reason.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:23 AM on October 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't see what being her only friend has to do with it. All the more reason to have a heart to heart about what it's like for you being around her when she's drunk.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:25 AM on October 1, 2008


There's obviously a reason she doesn't have too many other friends-- it sounds like you're not the only person who's been on the receiving end of drunken, inappropriate behaviors. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be kind to her, but the optimal route to kindness in this scenario probably doesn't involve shielding her from the consequences of her actions.

Worst case, she flips out about how you're the Worst Person Ever and you don't have to deal with it any more.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:29 AM on October 1, 2008


If you tell her you're mad it is more likely that you'll stay friends. If you don't, the resentment will fester and you will hate her eventually.

I think you are being too hard on her about the drunken hookup. If you two weren't dating and you wanted him to move on, why is it so awful that they got it on?

A lot of people, upon moving to the city, get drunk and act rowdy. Just like starting college. & there is a good chance she doesn't remember that your "friend" and her hooked up. Even if they did, would you really want to know? I think this is a situation where a lie might be a kinder act than the truth.

Of course, you're upset and you should communicate that ASAP.

It's really hard to control the behavior of others, so if you find yourself making secret rules about what others can't do and say and then getting mad when they're broken, it might be a problem with you, not with her.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:30 AM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


1. It's not your problem if she doesn't have other friends, that shouldn't guide your choices.

2. Sometimes when you get to know someone you realize they aren't suited for certain activities. Stop inviting your friend out for drinks with your pseudo-ex's (or whatever these people are...)

3. You control your own environment - stop letting her and others dictate your actions.
posted by wfrgms at 9:34 AM on October 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you do want to remain friends, I'd say, "I like you, and I want to remain friends, but I need you to be more careful with the details you know about my private life. It bothered me at the show when you said XYZ and didn't stop when I mentioned it. I know we were all drinking a lot, but do you think you could try to be more mindful?"

Don't confront her. Talk to her.

Re: the hookup, unless there are more details that I'm not seeing, I don't think she was under any obligation to tell you about it. It's unfortunate that she and the ex didn't discuss it, and that things are awkward, but sometimes it's hard with new friends to determine how much you want to share. She may be protecting her private life, too, and not wanting to compromise your friendship over something not likely to happen again. Hopefully she'll be more honest in the future, and if a pattern forms, that's another thing. But I'd let that part go if I were you.
posted by juliplease at 9:37 AM on October 1, 2008


#1 I didn't mind because I wanted him to move on, though he expressed guarded embarrassment over the incident. She called me that day and told me about everything but the hooking up, saying she slept on the couch and that she hoped I wasn't upset. I bluntly asked her if anything else happened to offer her a chance to share her perspective

If you didn't mind then why did you even bluntly ask? Maybe she is also slightly embarrassed by the hook-up and didn't want to hurt your feelings so she thought it was better not to kiss and tell? (which is what your male friend should have done if you ask me...)

#2 Yeah, she looks in the wrong on this one. Talk to her about it honestly, just like you would here. If you're her only semi-close friend in the city, then start your conversation with something about how she's your friend and vice-versa, you're glad to have her around (you are, right?), and this issue is on your mind... take it from there and good luck.
posted by matty at 9:44 AM on October 1, 2008


I'm not 'taking her side', her behavior is obviously not cool, but how are you certain she's not the one telling the truth re the hook-up? You know both people, but I do wonder why he gets a 100% credibility pass.
posted by dawson at 10:12 AM on October 1, 2008


"If you tell her you're mad it is more likely that you'll stay friends. If you don't, the resentment will fester and you will hate her eventually." I totally agree with this statement (not with rest of the comment).

"Don't confront her. Talk to her." I agree with this too. Do it nicely, try not to harbor resentment.
posted by tvjoshi at 10:25 AM on October 1, 2008


Hmm. I have to say, I don't really think her behaviour is quite as awful as you make out. She was a pain in the arse while drunk one night, but if it was only one time then I think 'confronting' her about her drinking is over the top. In fact, it sounds like she was trying to stick up for you - saying 'you should be sorry' to the ex? Maybe she was being protective of you, her best friend. Inviting him to your party is not cool, but maybe she realised she'd been out of line and was trying to help the situation by being more friendly to him?

And so she lied about the hookup with your friend. I think writing her off as untrustworthy is a little unfair. Not to be harsh, but is it really your business whether she and your friend slept together or not? I know how you feel, I would probably want to know too, but it's perfectly within her rights not to tell you.

(Also, seconding Dawson.)

Maybe you should just keep an eye on the situation. If she is consistently untrustworthy, then think again, but from what you've said, I don't see anything to be unduly concerned over.
posted by badmoonrising at 10:32 AM on October 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Tough to say whether I would have told you about the hookup (if I were her) - if it didn't mean anything and she would have risked hurting you by telling you about it, then maybe it makes sense to not tell you about that one. Motives may have been pure even if actions totally were not.

Do you think maybe she's trying to protect you a little bit, but she just doesn't realize it's not appropriate? (Hah, exactly as badmoonrising just said).

How to talk to her about her drunken behavior - I can't settle on the best approach. How do you guys relate? Be as straightforward as you can - "Hey, can we talk about Friday night? It made me a little uncomfortable when xxxxx happened."
posted by KAS at 10:42 AM on October 1, 2008


The hook-up was none of your business.

As far as the other thing goes, just dont invite her to situations where she can make an ass of you or herself like that.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:51 AM on October 1, 2008


Seconding all of the folks saying MYOB about the hook up. I think it was more rude of you to ask than it was for her not to tell you. Maybe you both have a distance to travel before you're perfect friends to each other.
posted by toomuchpete at 11:26 AM on October 1, 2008


Seconding matty. For #1, you don't care, so why put her on the spot about it? She knew your history, of course she's going to try to save your feelings. All in all, you don't care and it's really none of your business anyway. Drama released.
posted by rhizome at 11:55 AM on October 1, 2008


You have a new friend, and in the course of getting to know her you have discovered that you don´t like how she acts when she´s drunk, and that she has had enough to drink to black out at least once over 6 months.

I want to call her out on her behavior

So you want to tell her how you feel. Ok, tell her, but don´t expect that she´s going to change. I don´t see what how many other friends she has has anything to do with it.
posted by yohko at 12:16 PM on October 1, 2008


Just tell her. She needs to be made aware that she does that when she's drunk if she ever wants to have any other friends besides you.
posted by fructose at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2008


You can't change anyone's behaviour but your own. So don't tell her personal stuff - she can't be discreet. Don't ask her personal stuff, it's none of your business.
posted by b33j at 1:59 PM on October 1, 2008


In re. the title of this question: "These guys I'm always telling you about -- look, I'm a bit, well, weird about some of them, still. If you could act around them like I never told you a word, that would be easier for me."

interjecting "you should be sorry" as it related to our past sounds drunk but ultimately like she's a lot on your side. Don't be bitchy about some trivial beer talk. That's a "Man, I can't believe you said that at the bar," "Holy crap, I'm so embarrased; no Jager shots for me next time" chat, not something to build up resentment over.
posted by kmennie at 4:37 PM on October 1, 2008


Might she not even have remembered the hookup with #1? I mean, you said that she was blackout drunk when it happened.

#2 is weird and out of line, but it sounds like she thought she was being protective.

If it were me, I would give her a pass on #1, and in #2, bring up her behavior without specifically attributing it to drinking and without generalizing it to "drinking makes you ___."
posted by booksandlibretti at 5:01 PM on October 1, 2008


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