How much did I mess up in this situation?
February 16, 2013 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Basically got very drunk at a party and became a sleazeball. Trying to gauge the appropriate course of action.

I haven't been able to stop cringing when I think back on it, and I feel too embarrassed/guilty to say, mention it to a friend. I was at a party with people I'd been doing a language course with at my university (people between the ages of 21 to 25 generally, with a couple of older people). I think it's fair to say the people in the lesson generally like me and seem eager to chat etc. Generally it was a fairly boozed up crowd. I got unprecedentedly drunk and have very patchy memories of the last part of the night.

There was a girl I'd talked to for a lot of the night, who seemed to like me, in a friendly way. There was a point at about 4 or 5AM when there were only about 5 or 6 of us dancing in the living room. I remember at some point kissing her on the cheek and she smiled and seemed gently surprised. She generally puts herself across as someone who is frank about telling people she doesn't like them, and her general manner is one of being comically standoffish. So when we were dancing, I seem to remember us getting a bit huggy, and then we did some twirls and had fun and all that. Then I have a distinct memory of kissing her neck and maybe it seems trivial, but I feel really uncomfortable that it happened and that I can't remember her reaction.

Trying to write this and work through me remembering the details has made me physically recoil and cringe several times. ugh ugh ugh. Either way, afterwards we left the party with this other guy who she's closer to than me, and they even have a thing going on, I don't really know. They didn't seem to treat me any differently but then my memory of this point of the night is basically non-existent. From past experiences of being drunk, if I sense an iota of negativity towards me I amplify it massively in my head and become fixated on it and feel massively guilty. Or (on one bad occasion a year ago) in the words of a friend 'erupted' with 'a profound and disturbing diatribe' full of warped ideas about my friends essentially mocking me. and yeah, I get that the recurring suggestions is that i need to maybe scratch the surface of why I get drunk like this, but anyway, in this situation I couldn't sense any 'bad vibes' directed at me. Also, and I'm not sure how much this contributes - but the girl is Italian and I am from England, two European countries who have vastly different records when it comes to seeming friendly or awkward or whatever.

So, what shall I do? I don't have her number or facebook - I texted the host this morning thanking her for having me and she seemed chipper in her reply. I think as a group we generally decided we should try and hang out more often. I don't know. what do you think?

Possibly useful info: I haven't so much as kissed anyone since the end of my last relationship, in November of '11. uh. yeah.
posted by lethologues to Human Relations (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there anyone in the class you're more friendly with who will give you a good estimation of what happened? It doesn't sound all that terrible, from where I'm standing, but since you don't have a lot of memories of the night, it's pretty impossible to say how badly things went.
posted by xingcat at 2:00 PM on February 16, 2013

Ok here are the facts as I see them:
- You got drunk at a party full of drunk people
- You kissed a girl on the neck, don't remember her reaction but do remember leaving the party with her (and someone else) and she wasn't acting weird around you
- You thanked the host and the host didn't act like anything was wrong either.

I'm not seeing a problem here. Unless you actually get some evidence that there is a problem there is no need to jump to the conclusion that something went horribly wrong.
posted by magnetsphere at 2:02 PM on February 16, 2013 [27 favorites]

So you may have kissed a woman who didn't and doesn't seem to mind, and who is not to yr knowledge dating anybody else?

That's the worst thing you could possibly be guilty of?

There must have been a sociopath in the room and whatever guilt the sociopath should be feeling must have wafted through the air and landed on you.
posted by tel3path at 2:03 PM on February 16, 2013 [13 favorites]

eh, don't be so hard on yourself I think. I probably could have asked this exact question a few times over the years, everytime when I eventually manned up and talked to the person/people it wasn't nearly as bad as my brain had convinced me. If this is really fresh, as in last night, I'd give it a day or two and find a way to get in touch with her, she'll likely shrug it off (unless you did more worse stuff in your blackout period, but it's impossible to give advice for that).
posted by mannequito at 2:03 PM on February 16, 2013

You're fine!

You were drunk! You kissed a girl on the neck! She (as far as you remember) didn't slap you or push you away or run off screaming! It's all good!

My main recommendation: find more people to kiss.
posted by incessant at 2:04 PM on February 16, 2013 [7 favorites]

I think that not remembering long stretches of an evening is a reliable indicator that you need to look at your drinking.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:04 PM on February 16, 2013 [18 favorites]

Magnetsphere has it. I'd be one thing if she seemed offended or creeped out, but she didn't. I'd act like nothing happened and get on with your life.

And yes, black out drinking is dangerous -- there are better ways to spend your time.
posted by jessca84 at 2:06 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

You say you don't have the woman's contact info - do you see her in class or around campus? You could ask her to talk and basically say what you've said here: you can't remember everything that happened and are worried that things might have gotten out of hand.

Based on the reactions of others at the party it doesn't seem like anything too dreadful happened, but this action gives you a chance to apologize and make amends if you need to, and either way should give you some peace of mind.

And yeah ... you might want to talk to someone about your drinking.
posted by bunderful at 2:07 PM on February 16, 2013

Also, Dorothy Parker's cautionary tale.

Seriously, the party host probably would have responded differently if you'd been inappropriate, so it sounds like you dodged anything too awful. No more blackouts, though, okay?
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:08 PM on February 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

From your description of events, it doesn't sound like anything terribly uncouth went down. You danced, you kissed. The fact that you don't remember much is obviously the key, but with what we're provided with, things don't seem terribly amiss. I'm not sure if you're withholding information, but it doesn't even necessarily sound like she was displeased with the series of events. As long as you weren't forcing yourself on her, dancing and kissing are pretty standard party fare.

Is there a mutual friend you can check with to see how your behavior came across and maybe to get a play-by-play?

If you have a strong premonition that you were a sleazeball, as you say, you can see if you could get her information from the host--I'd recommend sending a Facebook message rather than trying to get her number. You could then send a brief, honest message owning up to not remembering much and feeling uncomfortable with what happened. Make it a short apology, and not something that necessitates a reply. Don't add her as a friend.
posted by aintthattheway at 2:08 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Assuming you are still perhaps shaking off the hangover: keep in mind that this sort of anxiety and shame is in part a physiological bug/feature of overdoing the alcohol. Very common to experience all kinds of amplified dread as your body comes out of the post-booze-haze.

I say that neither to condone nor condemn your actions. Just reminding you that there is a physical component to your angst.
posted by nacho fries at 2:09 PM on February 16, 2013 [27 favorites]

The next time you see the girl you say "Hey, if I was drunken jerk I apologize." You do that because it'll allow you stop stewing over the unknown. She'll either say that it wasn't a big deal or that she's angry. Whatever it is you'll know what you're dealing with here.

BTW, the way you respond to drinking isn't healthy and isn't even fun for you. Consider how you could curb your alcohol consumption.
posted by 26.2 at 2:09 PM on February 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

Sounds like your drinking might be masking some insecurities, and those insecurities crash back like the force of a tsunami when you sober up. Doesn't sound like you did anything terrible (though really, just don't kiss anyone ever unless it's super dooper clear they want you to kiss them).

I think a better question to ask than this catastrophising - frankly - nonsense, is why you continue getting blackout drunk when you know that you have problematic behaviours when drunk.

If you can answer that question, and put a halt to getting blackout drunk, then I think a lot of this associated anxiety will disappear. Honestly, I've known a few people - not alcoholics by any stretch of the imagination - who acted poorly when drinking; drinking was bad for them in that sense. Their continued willingness to get drunk and jeopardise relationships, self-esteem, etc was always mystifying for me. If you are a bad drunk, don't drink, period.
posted by smoke at 2:23 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yes, I left these things unaddressed:

1) when you see her follow 26.2's script, do not do rug-sweeping in any form, just address head-on that you literally don't know if you behaved badly but if you did, you are sorry
2) blackout drinking, not a good idea, and that Dorothy Parker story is one of my lifelong favourites. Since you have had blackouts more than once maybe you should consider that getting drunk at all isn't something you should be doing.
posted by tel3path at 2:25 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Don't forget: by 4 or 5 AM, most everybody else was likely quite drunk, too.
posted by lulu68 at 2:27 PM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think the anxiety you're feeling is less to do with the specifics of the party (it doesn't sound as if anything bad happened as far as you recall) and more with the fact that you're starting to understand that blackout drinking isn't an appropriate part of an adult social life, and you wish you hadn't done it.

It sounds like you learned this lesson "the easy way." Take this anxiety, turn it into planning how you're going to avoid this next time ("stop at midnight" is a good rule for some people) and you'll be fine.

If it makes you feel better you can tell the girl you hope you didn't misbehave and you're sorry if you did. But I suspect she won't know what you're talking about.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:27 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's a funny part of the human condition I suppose. You were at a party where 1) you were drunk, and 2) most other people were drunk, yet 3) when you sober up and remember the party, you approximate everyone else's memories as if 4) they were sober at the party.

In some ways, it's hyperbolic discounting run amok. You're looking back from a sober perspective on your drunken behaviour, applying your sober frame of judgement to your drunken state. What you well may be discounting is that everyone else was also in a drunken state as well! Their memories of the night are probably at best 'amplified' and at worst patchy as well.

So let's presume that the evening was fine. After all, drunkeness itself is not a crime. Being a complete tw*t while you're drunk is not great, but it doesn't sound like that is what occurred.

What is sounds like is:
1) You like this Italian girl.
2) You've been observing her from afar ("she makes points known like this...")
3) You had a big fat blow out night where there was introductory intimacy.
4) You wake up, look back and think you act like an ass.
5) Now you're worried about how to act.

My question is how would you act if she was interested in you the following day?

Point being, I don't think you're worried about how you came off as drunk – because it all sounds relatively innocuous – I think you're worried about what she thinks.

If that's the case, my friend, only one way to find out...
posted by nickrussell at 2:34 PM on February 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

If it makes you feel better, I will confide to you (and everyone on metafilter and the internets) my latest drunken adventure, which I think is similar to yours in some ways but turned out not to be a big deal. Was invited to an acquaintance's apartment for drinks with some people a couple of weeks ago, and drank, well, a lot. Hung around until everyone left and then basically asked the guy to make out. He seemed flattered, but told me he had a girlfriend. Ooooops! To be fair to me he had kissed/embraced me several times throughout the course of the evening, perhaps a bit in the way that you describe kissing that girl (drunkenly, and not on the lips or anything, and in his case anyway not meaning anything in the end) . . . and he has a girlfriend! Anyway, I messaged him the next morning to apologize for the 'misunderstanding' and he said fine, no big deal, and we have hung out since then and it wasn't awkward or anything.

Anyway, I also totally get the feeling of being uneasy about things that I do or say when I am drunk that you mention, and I have never done anything quite as, ahem, straightforward as described above before (I tend to be kind of reserved). I think you are probably fine. Even if you did make her uneasy (and it doesn't sound like you did) people will generally give you a pass for nights when you all decided to get drunk together.
posted by thesnowyslaps at 2:38 PM on February 16, 2013

It was hard to learn, and still hard to put it into practice, but I think when someone doesn't, apparently, have an issue with something you did, you just have to take them at their word and try really hard to forget about all the reasons they might have had an issue.

The guilty thoughts you get just aren't logical thoughts, even if in every other area you think logically. In the cold light of day they don't make sense, and you would immediately find their premises illogical if you encountered them anywhere other than your own head.

I have the same problem and I try my best to turn brain to 'Ignore! Ignore! Ignore!' when it happens. But it's pretty hard.
posted by TheRedArmy at 2:43 PM on February 16, 2013

Did this just happen the other night? If so, be aware that a lot of people suffer from anxiety and depression for a couple of days following a binge. Treat yourself to some healthy food and maybe a fresh juice or two and take some time to properly come out of the fog before beating yourself up too much.

Tell yourself also, that when people attend (drinking) parties, they understand that they will need to make allowances for embarrassing behaviour. Really! It's part of why people get boozed up in the first place. As long as you weren't violent or cruel, you're probably ok.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:53 PM on February 16, 2013

Whatever you do, don't stop and dwell on it. Everyone's been stupid and drunk before.

Whatever you do, just keep moving.
posted by four panels at 2:59 PM on February 16, 2013

Unless you receive a very angry phone call in the morning, just forget it. It happens. Everyone knows it happens. You are not the worst person ever.
posted by The Whelk at 3:11 PM on February 16, 2013

(and for the record I'd get the overpowering dread and paranoid fear after a terribly excessive night of drinking even if I knew for a fact I had done nothing more crazy than watch too many episodes of 30 rock in a row on the couch before passing out, it's a feature of the getting wasting process sometimes).
posted by The Whelk at 3:13 PM on February 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

Yeah, from what you wrote here it definitely sounds to me like you are catastrophizing. And you know, I wasn't there and am not inside your brain or anything, but I also wonder if you're not amplifying how drunk you were and how unacceptable it was in this telling of the story, similarly to how you seem to be amplifying how badly you behaved. Finally, several other people in the thread are totally right that rebound anxiety post-alcohol is a thing and may be coloring your thoughts right now.

As far as concrete next steps I think 26.2 has a good answer. And if you really did have a fragmentary black-out, getting cues from other people who were there (like the host, perhaps) is also likely to help you remember details about what happened, so if that will help settle your thoughts it might be worth doing.

I'll just add that from skimming your past questions it looks like you are somewhat hard on yourself in general and also have some social anxiety. I know from personal experience that anxiety, shame and alcohol are not such an awesome combination, and it's certainly not a bad idea to exercise more agency about how much and in what situations you drink -- but I have a sneaking suspicion that it's how you're reacting to the anxiety and shame that's the main, underlying problem here. So I will be That Guy In AskMe and say that therapy has really helped me get a handle on dealing with those emotions (other friends of mine prefer e.g., low-dose SSRIs, so YMMV, but you get my point).
posted by en forme de poire at 3:19 PM on February 16, 2013

I've been in this situation more or less exactly. Next time I saw her, I said, "So I don't remember a lot toward the end of that party, but what I do remember makes me worried that I acted inappropriately... Did I?" She said I did not, and she and I went on to have a few sexytimes in the following weeks.

So just be straightforward. It's totally clear that you didn't do something so boorish as for her to ditch you, so the absolute worst scenario is that you got drunk and kissed a pretty girl but she isn't actually that into you.
posted by cmoj at 3:42 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh man, I think everyone has been there at some point. You got a little drunker than you expected with people you're not quite comfortable being drunk around. It happens. Hopefully not often – if this were a weekly thing, I'd say you've got a problem – but it sounds like this is a rare occurrence for you. I think you should just embrace it as a wild night that ended in an unexpected place and enjoy it for what it was.
posted by deathpanels at 10:59 PM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Take it from Kingsley Amis (who had some experience with this):
“When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you, start telling yourself that what you have is a hangover. You are not sickening for anything, you have not suffered a minor brain lesion, you are not all that bad at your job, your family and friends are not leagued in a conspiracy of barely maintained silence about what a shit you are, you have not come at last to see life as it really is.”
posted by ecmendenhall at 2:09 AM on February 17, 2013 [7 favorites]

OP, don't let the Very Serious People here shame you into feeling you have some deep seated problem. You got a little drunker than you planned at a party; if this isn't common, don't worry about it. What it sounds like you have is social anxiety that booze sometimes makes worse- i.e., your fear of being mocked, and negative "vibes". Keep in mind that other people don't think about you (or anyone) as much as you (and everyone) thinks. The vibes are coming from your head.

As for your actions; you don't really sound out of line or that you made a spectacle of yourself; and parties that last until 4am tend to have some things like this happen. If you see the woman again, be friendly, and you might want to add that you had a little too much to drink and sorry if you were sloppy.

If she didn't react negatively at the time, she probably didn't mind. Of course, she was probably in party-drunk mode too, so that doesn't mean she likes you. But I am detecting a faux pas rate of 0 to 1, tops.
posted by spaltavian at 5:51 AM on February 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

For me, blackout-drunkenness causes anxiety and horror for next week as reliably as beer causes urine. Poking at patchy memories irritates those feelings even when nothing has happened. It is a chemical thing, after a brief spell of overtly self-assuredness, you are now walking on glass for few days. Don't rely on your judgements of what happened -- shame attached to those gaps is a creation of very confused and temporarily broken brain repairing itself, and you can't override those emotions but you don't need to believe their testimony.
posted by Free word order! at 8:16 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're cute. I doubt you did anything untoward, but you're young enough to get away with saying. "My gosh, I was SO wasted the other night!" All will be forgiven.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:32 AM on February 17, 2013

See if you can take the girl aside, tell her you remember kissing her neck, but were very drunk and don't remember anything else, and you want to be certain you didn't behave appallingly. Assuming you didn't forget something crucial, like puking on her neck, ask her out.
posted by theora55 at 9:34 PM on February 17, 2013

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