Help me interpret a girl's signals when she was drunk. I'm not even sure if they were signals.
October 18, 2008 2:15 PM   Subscribe

I am an idiot and I fail miserably at this dating/relationship stuff. Help me make sense of a girl's behavior when she was drunk...

Hello Mefites!

Last Tuesday, me and 3 of my friends (everyone around 21-22 years old) got together for a few drinks, along with a friend of my friend; let's call her X (3 guys, 2 girls). I had known her for a very short time only, having met a total of 2 times before when I was with one of the aforementioned friends. And while I'm not someone who opens up to new people easily, I'm always joking around and having a lot of fun when I'm around my friends. I've been called the life of my group a lot of times before, and it's not sarcasm as far as I can tell. That atleast gives the newly-met people an impression that I'm a fun guy to be around. And when I'm drunk, I'm a lot more fun. A lot of it is down to me fooling around making fun of myself, and the rest of it is because I'm generally more alert and come up with the bulk of the funny moments. Suffice to say that I'm generally the one who makes the rest of the people laugh, especially when we're drinking.

So yeah, we were all drunk, and during this time, I could feel that X was pretty attracted to me. There was an incredible amount of touching, her sticking around me all the time, coming with me when I was going out to buy more booze (only the two of us wanted to drink more, the rest wanted to just stick where they were), and a lot of hand-holding during the journey to-and-fro from the booze shop, and the coffee shop (later). Awesome vibing between the two of us, if you will... Since she was pretty hammered by the end, she wanted to have a coffee. And since it was late, the rest of my friends had to go home. So I took her to a coffee shop. The vibe was still there even after she was pretty sober. Then I dropped her home. She later called to apologise for giving me the trouble of taking her to the coffee shop (?? wtf?)

I was with my friends the next day when she dropped by to meet us. Again, I could feel some attraction, but dialed down because she was sober. She again apologised for giving me trouble and told me that she didn't remember most of what happened... We talked around for an hour before splitting up and heading home. Haven't seen her since, but that's probably because my friend hasn't invited her again during the last couple of days. Atleast that's what I think.

She has been in a relationship for quite a few years now, and I've always been someone who isn't too eager to rock the boat when it comes to such things. I have her number, from when she called me to apologise. I don't know if I should pursue her, or just keep her as a friend. Yes, I am attracted to her, which makes me feel that I might be taking everything a little too seriously and seeing attraction when/where there is none. But when I met my friends the next day, they also had the opinion that she liked me. But her apologising twice, and then telling me that she didn't remember most of what happened gives me doubts. Plus, the fact that I've never been in any relationship before, so I don't know how all this works. If I make a move and she's not really attracted to me, I'll probably make a fool of myself (as usual), not that there's anything wrong with that. But I don't want to lose something that could turn into a nice friendship.

Any suggestions for a next move? I'm completely open to either option (pursuing or not), and would appreciate your answers. Thanks! Also, apologies for such a long post.

throw-away email address:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (44 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't read any of this, but she was -DRUNK-. Don't read too much into anything she does.
posted by Loto at 2:27 PM on October 18, 2008 [6 favorites]

My guess is that she was apologizing because she was embarrassed that she was drunk. Maybe she thought she was being silly drunk and needy when she wanted a coffee.

She has a boyfriend. Calling her for romantic reasons could be a serious pain in the ass. The best case scenario is that she will make a clean break from her current relationship and date you. The more likely scenario would be lfull of of drama and heartache.

Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 2:27 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

She's in a relationship? For a few years? Don't do anything. If she likes you, the burden is on her to free herself up so she can pursue you.

All your other questions are kind of moot unless you're the kind of person who considers even people in relationships fair game. She may have feelings for you - she's certainly acting friendly and interested - but unless you address the fact that she's dating someone else you are heading for unholy mess territory.

Some conversation like "So, you have a boyfriend, huh?" "Yeah." "Well, that's too bad, because I really enjoyed your company and if you were single I'd totally ask you out" may help you understand where things are for her and whether there's any chance of her ending that and pursuing you. Anything less direct, though, starts to get kind of shitty for somebody.
posted by Miko at 2:28 PM on October 18, 2008 [10 favorites]

Help me make sense of a girl's behavior when she was drunk...

Drunk behavior is usually nonsense, which is the problem here. The saying "A drunk man's words are a sober man's thoughts" generally applies to people you know well expressing hidden anger or resentment, not girls you barely know flirting with you. She was drunk, apparently very drunk, and enjoyed flirting with you. You can flirt with her when she's sober and try to gauge how receptive she is, but I wouldn't take drunken flirting as indicative of anything.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:28 PM on October 18, 2008

Oh, and if she has a boyfriend, don't do that. It's a dick move to pursue someone else's significant other.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:29 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

She was apologizing for her drunkenness and letting you know that you shouldn't take things she said while drunk seriously because she was so out of it. It sounds like her way of letting you know that you shouldn't pursue her more, so I wouldn't.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:30 PM on October 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

She has been in a relationship for quite a few years now, and I've always been someone who isn't too eager to rock the boat when it comes to such things.

This is the important sentence that you just sort of stuck into your question offhand. No, if she's in a relationship, don't pursue her. Of course not. That's sleazy. Perhaps she was being more affectionate with you when she was drunk than she would have been otherwise, but she's not acting that way sober and she has a boyfriend. It's a shame she acted that way, because it obviously messed with your head. If she breaks up with the boyfriend, go for it.
posted by amro at 2:32 PM on October 18, 2008

I'm confused. You say she is in a relationship but yet you want to pursue something. I'd personally stay away from breaking up an existing couple.

If you are looking for a move, the most I would do is talk to your mutual friend and say something like, "What's deal with X's relationship? I'm interested in her but I don't want to get into any drama if she is seriously with someone else."
posted by mmascolino at 2:33 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I did read it all, but I still agree with Loto above-- she was drunk. That's all there is to it.

Judge the interaction by her sober behavior.
posted by nat at 2:42 PM on October 18, 2008

She was apologising because she wanted to make it clear that though her drunk self was acting single and attracted, her sober self realises that she's in a relationship and doesn't want to end it for you.

If she does want to break up for you, let her do it. Anything you try and do will either be useless (because she's already keen to end it) or unwelcome (because she doesn't want to end it), and both are what have been correctly described as dick moves. Don't try to pick up girls in relationships.

Flirting is fun. So she flirted. That doesn't mean she wants to break up for you.
posted by twirlypen at 2:44 PM on October 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

I do think she likes you on some level, and she was embarassed about being drunk and that's why she apologized.
I wouldn't say that the fact that she has a boyfriend makes her entirely off-limits- who knows, maybe she and her bf are on the skids or he lives far away and they are growing apart, maybe they've decided to see other people, or whatever.
I think Miko's got the best answer- just tell her that you had a fun time with her but you know that she has a boyfriend, and leave it be. If she and the boyfriend split, that's a good sign, but if not you could still hang out with the same friends and not have it be awkward.
posted by emd3737 at 2:46 PM on October 18, 2008

She has been in a relationship for quite a few years now, and I've always been someone who isn't too eager to rock the boat when it comes to such things.

your answer is right there. listen to yourself.

and having been one who once did not listen to my self, let me say again, & clearly: listen to your self
posted by jammy at 2:49 PM on October 18, 2008

Yeah, pretty much just reiterating what the other posters are saying here. Two red flag:

1. She was drunk
2. She has a boyfriend.

For future reference, I don't think the apologizing is too much of a big deal in and of itself, because I would've interpreted it as her feeling bad about having potentially embarrassed herself in front of someone she might be interested in pursuing. Hell, I would still make that interpretation - especially the apology for making you take her to coffee, which might've been giving you and opening to say something flattering about her.

But the fact that she is in a relationship makes it a lot more complicated. You could've been a way out of a relationship, you could've just been a bit of (what to her was) harmless flirting. In any case, it's not up to you to decide the next move.
posted by Phire at 2:50 PM on October 18, 2008

She wasn't actually apologizing, she was saying:

"I'm NOT SINGLE and I acted single while I was drunk, please don't pursue me."
"Please don't talk about me flirting with you. I am NOT SINGLE."
posted by ®@ at 2:54 PM on October 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

Nthing "she was drunk, she has a boyfriend."

Comon now. You know how the game is played. Do you want to be That Guy? If you're as affable as you say, a better opportunity will present itself. Don't be a reason someone breaks up with someone else; you're building a relationship on very shaky grounds to start with.
posted by disillusioned at 2:55 PM on October 18, 2008

She was drunk - apparently now she isn't. You're interested - she might be - how about just calling her and asking her out to something completely different than that night - say for a walk in the park or some vegan pizza.....
posted by watercarrier at 3:04 PM on October 18, 2008

> She has been in a relationship for quite a few years now, and I've always been someone
> who isn't too eager to rock the boat when it comes to such things.

Don't have any particular answer for you, just wanted to tip my hat to you for that.
posted by jfuller at 3:24 PM on October 18, 2008

I thought about how to elegantly phrase an answer to this, then I decided to just go ahead and list a bunch of clichés:

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
If you don't ask, you don't get.
You won't get hung for asking.
Faint heart never won fair lady.

Ooh, courage, convictions, you know the one.
There's worse things than looking like an idiot.
When you're old, you'll only regret the things you didn't do.
You're a long time dead.

It's all a leap into the unknown, the odd wobbly hop won't hurt you.

Talk to _her_

[I made the wobbly hop bit up.]
posted by mandal at 3:24 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

She's into you. There was good vibing. Drunk people are confused, honest people. She's most likely angry that you didn't take it further and kiss her back. You see, if she's drunk and you kiss her and she reciprocates then she needs an excuse (because she has a boyfriend), so her being drunk is a great excuse (no matter how stupid that is). You also need to be the one to kiss her so she can say "well he kissed me." She probably threw off a lot of I'm-attracted-to-you signals at the time, and because you didn't make a move she felt dumb the next day, thus apologizing for "bothering" you. Next time, take the bait! Basically you'll be starting from square 1 to bring her back to that point again next time you hang out, make sure to be a bit more aggressive this time though. If she tells you she has a boyfriend it doesn't always mean get away- it means she won't take responsibility for having cheated on him- you have to take the fall.
posted by thegmann at 3:26 PM on October 18, 2008

And I will probably get a lot of flak for that post, but honestly if she's been with him for a few years and she's holding hands with you and feeling good with you when she's a bit tipsy she's probably in the market for someone new.
posted by thegmann at 3:27 PM on October 18, 2008

Also, her not remembering most of what happened is her way of saying "because we were flirting and I have a boyfriend and you haven't taken it to the next level yet I'm writing it off for now as something dumb I did while drunk." Trust me, she remembers (we remember most things that make us feel good), which is why she's telling you she doesn't remember.
posted by thegmann at 3:31 PM on October 18, 2008

I really wish I could edit these things... Wow I need to re-read these after I write them. I meant "kiss her" in the first paragraph, not "kiss her back".
posted by thegmann at 3:33 PM on October 18, 2008

"told me that she didn't remember most of what happened"

Dude! That's Secret Girl Code for "I'm pretending nothing happpened." Move on.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 3:34 PM on October 18, 2008 [4 favorites]

Just be cool, talk to her, confirm that she is in a relationship, tell her you are attracted to her, but know she's in a relationship, but if she ever is available to let you know.

That seems the most straightforward way to go. Also lets you practice your communication skills in that dept.
posted by Vaike at 3:43 PM on October 18, 2008

"I'm NOT SINGLE and I acted single while I was drunk, please don't pursue me."
"Please don't talk about me flirting with you. I am NOT SINGLE."

Apparently she was also stating that she was a poor communicator.
posted by 517 at 3:43 PM on October 18, 2008

Echoing a bunch of other people: She was drunk, and she embarrassed herself, and that's what she was trying to apologize for.

Also, five years in a relationship, and she's 21 or 22? That's not a girl you pursue. If she breaks up with dude and then confesses that she's in love with you, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. If it happens in the next week, I'll even let you use my AskMe question.
posted by box at 4:30 PM on October 18, 2008

She may be interested, but I get the sense she really doesn't want to pursue anything. All of her sober actions imply that she's trying to distance herself from what she did when she was drunk. First, she keeps apologizing for what she did, implying that she wants you to think she didn't mean them and feels bad about it now. Second, she insists she was so drunk she doesn't remember most of the evening. Saying that implies that she was absolutely hammered and not responsible for her actions (to both discourage you and to cover her ass if her boyfriend finds out), and also that she doesn't want to talk about whatever she said/did. I'd say there's a good chance she probably does remember what happened, but is telling you she blacked out so she can avoid the awkward "I really didn't mean to lead you on" conversation.

You can try to pursue it if you want, but it's almost guaranteed to end very messily for reasons people have already talked about it. If you're really interested, you can ask the friend of a friend to do some recon for you if you think they can keep their mouth shut. But I'd say the best situation is to sit back and let her figure out what she wants to do.
posted by lilac girl at 4:37 PM on October 18, 2008

Give her a call and see if she wants to hook up for a coffee (nothing more)- what can you lose? If she says no, so what, she said no. No big deal.

Don't second guess her motivations, that road leads to sleepless nights and angst.
posted by mattoxic at 5:04 PM on October 18, 2008

If you choose to pursue that, prepare yourself for a world of emotional hurt, and most likely physically too.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:05 PM on October 18, 2008

Umm, she was drunk and doesn't remember what happened? HELLO! Doesn't anyone else see that she may have a *problem*? Don't call her. She's in a relationship, she sounds (to me) like she may be more trouble than she's worth. Take the "wait and see what happens" approach if you are still interested.
posted by 6:1 at 5:18 PM on October 18, 2008

Meh, I think I disagree with the masses here. You gotta trust your intuitions -- maybe she's on the rocks with the boyfriend, about to break up... regardless, she's a free woman, and that's between her and her boyfriend. So if you genuinely are interested in her, and think she might be receptive, I say make a casual move.
posted by paultopia at 6:34 PM on October 18, 2008

I'm going to agree with most of the people that she's probably not likely to end her relationship and that her responses were her way of telling you that.

For next time, or for others in the same position:

"Oh, it's not bother at all! I enjoyed spending time with you a lot. To be honest, I'm sorry that you're going out with X, because if you were single, I would totally ask you out." (Reword as needed.)

The key is "it was no bother at all!" Even if neither of you was romantically interested, it's likely to make her feel a bit less embarrassed, because as Dasein said, your odds of even being friends are probably greatly reduced at this point.
posted by JMOZ at 7:28 PM on October 18, 2008

I agree with paultopia, which means I've answered the question, which means that I can say that Loto has absolutely no business offering you advise without reading what you've written, that Inspector.Gadget is wrong to suggest that anger or resentment are the main sober thoughts expressed while drunk, and that 6:1 is totally off topic to go off on a 21 or 22 year old who's had too much to drink and can't remember everything that happened having a *problem*. She's 21 or 22 and has been in a relationship for "quite a few years"? What, like since she was in high school? She's just getting started on adulthood and has her whole life ahead of her. Try to see her again casually, be cool and see what happens.
posted by farmdoggie at 7:28 PM on October 18, 2008

You should have laid her while she was drunk. No give her a call to go out and try to get her drunk again ;-)

@ Inspector.Gadget
Oh, and if she has a boyfriend, don't do that. It's a dick move to pursue someone else's significant other.
No it isn't. All evolution evolves around competition.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 8:17 PM on October 18, 2008

Once upon a time I was the drunk girl who flirted hard with the funny guy while I was in a serious relationship that I'd been in since High School. I respected the funny guy so much more because he never tried to make a move, and, more than that, gently put the kibosh on things when I tried to make the move while drunk. He stayed in touch, we stayed friends.

Twenty years on, I'm married to him.

Be the chivalrous guy. Be the respectable guy. Don't do anything other than be friends with this girl, at least while she's in the relationship. If she needs to end that, she can. Be around for her. But don't make a move. Just be cool, be friends. If anything else is going to happen, it will happen in its own good time.
posted by anastasiav at 8:24 PM on October 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

Your own attraction to her is likely clouding your thoughts big time. You're probably reading into a "vibe" that wasn't there. She was drunk. Drinking lowers inhibitions. You kind of took advantage of her slightly (or at the very least, didn't discourage her) because of your attraction to her.

Leave her alone. Move on.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:48 PM on October 18, 2008

Nthing what so many other people have said.

She got drunk, and let her guards down. Yes, she was almost certainly attracted to you.

Then she sobered up and had an "Oh Shit" moment. Because she's in a relationship.

Don't push it. The ball is in her court.
posted by Windigo at 10:06 PM on October 18, 2008

The most important thing for you isn't losing a potential friendship but losing a potential relationship. You didn't ask a question here on askmefi because you are casually interested. This is important to you. You have to respond to her apology and tell her you are attracted to her. The ball isn't in her court until you tell her how you feel. She may be waiting for your reaction.

You need to have a conversation where you tell her pretty much what you wrote here: you're inexperienced, you don't want to steal her away from her bf, but you are genuinely interested in her. That puts the ball in her court but more importantly, lets you sleep at night knowing you did everything you could. Stop worrying about making her angry or alienating her - those worries are a rationalization to not take the risk. Man up and put your cards on the table.

Even if she does shoot you down, she'll understand that you had to say something and will in fact respect you for it. She won't be "oh my god how you can put me in this position!" but more like "That's very sweet of you but I'm so sorry."
posted by conrad53 at 11:19 PM on October 18, 2008

I dont think you are asking if she likes you. I think you are asking if you should go after some dude's girlfriend. The best advice I can give you is that you should always look at the problem from the angle of whether or not the goal you are pursuing will be a long-term benefit or not. Do not chase after short-term gains when you are going to be crossing a line.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:20 PM on October 18, 2008

When you were both drunk something could have happened. It didn't. That means it's now not the time to push the agenda. You took the 'I'm being cool path' that night, best to continue along that path for now. The sudden escalation path has been closed off for the time being.
posted by Sitegeist at 2:45 AM on October 19, 2008

p.s. Don't do what conrad53 says. Sorry, but that's wet. Being called 'sweet' by a girl is the kiss of death.
posted by Sitegeist at 2:48 AM on October 19, 2008

Meh, I think I disagree with the masses here. You gotta trust your intuitions -- maybe she's on the rocks with the boyfriend, about to break up... regardless, she's a free woman, and that's between her and her boyfriend. So if you genuinely are interested in her, and think she might be receptive, I say make a casual move.

She's not a free woman. She's made that clear to the OP, and just assuming (really, hoping) that her relationship is on the rocks, with no evidence to the contrary, because it's to your benefit to do that is definitely dickish.

Seriously, anon, you don't want your first relationship to be a non-relationship because the girl is really with someone else. AND she's trying to let you down gently here. I'd move on.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:47 PM on October 19, 2008

I would continue as is and not read too much into it.

That said, an acquaintance of my long term significant other once took me aside and said "I really do hope that things work out with you and Prince, but if they don't, I think you are an incredible girl and would love to take you out."

It was nice and not pushy/awkward. I mentioned it to SO in passing later and he bore no ill will over it.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 2:21 PM on October 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Contrary opinion: I used to be of the "she's got a boyfriend = she's off-limits" mindset, but after being in a few lopsided relationships myself, I've changed my position on this entirely. Short version: if she doesn't love her guy, go for it. To be crass, she's riding a donkey, looking for a stallion. You'd be doing him a favor, *especially* if he loves her -- he deserves somebody who loves him back, and he was never going to leave this relationship on his own. (Be warned that you may have to deal with some resulting drama.)

As for the drunken behavior... Alcohol can be a facilitator, but it can also backfire if overdone: Sometimes even a single girl will be so embarassed by her drunken behavior that she'll henceforth feel uncomfortable even being around you. And FWIW, if I like the girl, I'd much rather hook up with her sober than drunk anyhow -- that way, we both know it's Real and not just the booze talkin.

Best of luck, and if it doesn't work, there are plenty of lovely fishies in the sea!
posted by LordSludge at 11:36 AM on October 20, 2008

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