How to deal with a friendship gone sour...
January 16, 2015 8:49 AM   Subscribe

A buddy of mine I've been wanting a closer friendship with got very drunk and offered to help solve my high libido problem. I didn't do anything with him then, because, um, hello, informed consent, but I texted him the next day to signal that everything was cool and I was receptive. He, and I should have seen this coming, was blacked out, remembers nothing, and is not interested. I feel humiliated. What comes next?

"Wanting a closer friendship" is not a euphemism. I've been wishing the person in question disclosed more to me about what's going on in his life, and wondered whether he even likes me as a person, or just wants someone to play tabletop games with. I have clinical social anxiety/phobia and often wonder these things about my friends. Most of the time, it's the crazy talking, but on occasion I've been right. He was really talking to me about his life that night, and I think it was partly wishful thinking around wanting a closer friendship that allowed me to underestimate just how far gone he was.

My high libido problem: I'm in two long-term open relationships, but my partners have much lower sex drives than I. I'm pretty much climbing the walls and clawing at the furniture at this point, but I still want to be selective about additional sexual partners, choosing people I am friendly with and can trust. My buddy brought up sex on his own, so I went ahead and told him my situation, not that he'd remember now. He claimed he'd always been attracted to me, but again, he was drunk. I'm sexually attracted to him, or was, at least.

He has apologized, and is generally not being a jerk beyond the initial shitheadedness of getting blackout drunk in the first place. He says I shouldn't think of it as rejection. I do. I'm really upset and cry thinking about it (I'm an easy crier). I don't want him to know that. I wish I could just blow it off, but I can't, and I'm ashamed that I can't. He says it's up to me what happens next, but I don't know what I want, short of going back in time. I am frequently sad about other friendships I've lost (for different reasons). I feel like this is some kind of proof that I'm a pathetic, desperate person. What do I do regarding my friend? And how do I cope on my own?

Relevant: I don't drink at all, have never been drunk-- I come from a family of alcoholics.I don't think I want to be around him drunk at all anymore, but he's so often drunk. He blacks out at least semi-regularly. To me, he has a drinking problem.

Relevant: I've been struggling a lot with the idea that I'm not as attractive to others as I used to be, as in this earlier question. A few days ago, another friend of mine who has offered, sober, to help me with my libido problems, requested dirty pictures of me, and has not been in touch since I sent them. That's not helping.

I'll gladly answer additional questions and will probably be threadsitting for a while.
posted by dee lee to Human Relations (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It might be helpful for you to completely separate your friendship and relationship worlds so that this kind of hurt and confusion is less likely to happen.

Get yourself up on okcupid and start finding some dudes to bang in an environment where both parties are on board with it. Dating sites are great for this because there's no secret what you're looking for. There's no oh gee does this person like me as just a friend or maybe more; the entire relationship is structured from the beginning as a potential relationship.

If you're uncomfortable being around people who are regularly blackout drunk, don't be friends with people who regularly drink to excess. And certainly don't sleep with them. That is a perfectly reasonable and healthy choice for you to make for yourself.
posted by phunniemee at 9:00 AM on January 16, 2015 [16 favorites]

Relevant: I don't drink at all, have never been drunk-- I come from a family of alcoholics.I don't think I want to be around him drunk at all anymore, but he's so often drunk. He blacks out at least semi-regularly. To me, he has a drinking problem.

It sounds like you have a choice to make, and you are probably going to wind up choosing to not see as much of this guy. The rest is mostly (to me) you engaging in self-blaming patterns that may go back to being the adult child of alcoholics.

That sounds simple, I know, and the way you feel is anything but simple. It's really awful when you take something someone says seriously and it turns out they were drunk, didn't remember it and disavow it. This has happened to me and it happens to everyone who spends time around active alcoholics. Which is why so many people attend groups like Al-Anon.
posted by BibiRose at 9:03 AM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

Thank you, phunniemee, but I actually met the friend in question on OKCupid a few years ago, so I don't know that I'd agree with your assessment that everything that starts on a dating site is structured as a potential relationship.
posted by dee lee at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2015

I'm confused about why you think that this friendship has gone sour? He's the one who got drunk and did something dumb. You're the one who was a mensch and didn't take advantage of him. He still wants to be be friends. Why not just be friends with him?
posted by sparklemotion at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2015 [10 favorites]

sparklemotion: I guess,

1) Because just the thought of it upsets me so much, and I fear being embarrassingly upset around him.

2) Because I'm not sure if he really enjoys being my friend so much as just doesn't want shit to be weird between us, given how much our lives intersect.

3) Because I've stayed in shitty friendships for lengthy periods in the past, and don't really trust myself to identify when I'm being treated so badly that I should end things. I've also probably been too hasty at other times, overcorrecting. In short, I'm really confused about what's reasonable to expect from a friendship.
posted by dee lee at 9:14 AM on January 16, 2015

It's understandable to be upset. He got your hopes up and then disappointed you. I know exactly how you feel about being uncomfortable around blackout drunks, coming from a family of drunks. It's very disturbing for a child to look at the adults who you're supposed to love and trust and just see nothingness when you look in their eyes because they aren't there right now. How can they just be gone? How could they just leave me like that? That awful feeling of abandonment stays with you. So I think it's natural for you to be upset now to find out something you thought was real wasn't real, someone you thought was there wasn't there.

But look you don't have to do anything about this right now. You're the one who was prudent and a good friend, so the ball is in your court. Give it some time and see how you feel in a week or two.
posted by bleep at 9:20 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

also for sparklemotion: Maybe part of it is ego, too. I don't see myself dealing very well with someone who knows that I would fuck them, but wouldn't fuck me. I just see it as being an inherently weak or shameful position, even though I wouldn't put that judgment on anyone else.
posted by dee lee at 9:22 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

As someone who doesn't like to be around drunk people especially because of a family history, I understand. And it's okay if that's a dealbreaker.

But it sounds like this guy, above all else, isn't a friend. He's someone you know, who you hang out with...but he's not connecting with you on a level that really would indicate to me that he's anything more than an acquaintance. And that's not your fault. Hell, it's not even his fault. I'm glad he didn't go through with having sex with you if he didn't want to.

And that's okay. Just because he didn't want to doesn't mean you're not worthy. Don't seek validation through sex. This way addiction lies.

I'm socially anxious, too..and it's hard for me to reach out to people and I get how it devastates when you reach out and you're rejected. But you will reach out again and sometimes people will bite. And you'll have fun again.
posted by inturnaround at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

I get the sense from this post and the one you link to that you look for validation mostly from male external sources, ie if other people like me and are sexually attracted to me then I am a worthy person. You might work with your therapist on finding validation within yourself. It helps with not being crushed and shaking it off when something like this happens because you know you're still a good person regardless.
posted by cecic at 9:27 AM on January 16, 2015 [14 favorites]

Actually I'd blow this guy off. Not because of the awkward, but because he drinks more than you're comfortable with, which leads to awkward.

It's not weird that you'd follow up a drunken pass with an honest response in the light of day. You don't need to be humiliated about it.

Work on the whole validation via sexual attractiveness thing in therapy. We all age and our looks change. You have to be okay with it. I look better now than I did when I was younger. How many guys may or may not want to fuck me has nothing to do with it.

There are tons of folks out there who would enjoy NSA sex with you. Put up an honest profile on OKC looking for just that and your inbox will be flooded.

Not all people that we like are good for us. Friends who get blackout drunk fall into this category.

"Gary, I really like you and I want to continue to be your friend. I can't do that if you continue to drink into oblivion when we're out together. This latest miscommunication is a pretty good reason for why I feel this way. If we can still go out and not have alcohol, we can try to remain friends. If that's not okay with you, I think it's time we parted ways."

You'll be fine.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:38 AM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]

Gonna have to untangle this ball of twine here.
1) Da Alcohol. I don't see this as a good fit because you're a non-drinker hanging out with a blackout drinker. This will NEVER end well, no matter what. I would return this person back to the Gaming Friend box and leave it at that. There is a lesson here to be learned. LEARN IT.

2) Da Sex. As others have said, you can and will be able to find a sex partner. There are plenty of other folks out there who are also climbing the walls. The question here is how do you want to go about this? Choosing from your current circle or expanding beyond that? Your anxiety and self-esteem may want you go for the former, but for you to become even healthier, you need to do the latter. EXPAND YOUR NET.

3) Da Self-Esteem. You seem to have chosen poorly recently when it comes to your libido assistants. I would recommend upping the bar and even writing down what you want when it comes to this. What qualities are you looking for in a new partner? You're already with two gents who I assume are handling themselves well; why not look for similar folk? Hold yourself, and them, to a higher standard. If someone you meet doesn't check off all the boxes, move on. DEMAND BETTER, GET BETTER.

When you start treating yourself as if you deserve the best, you will demand the best, wait for the best and get the best. ROCK ON.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 10:14 AM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

It is totally okay to want to sleep with someone more than they want to sleep with you. Sometimes friendships go through little crush-y periods and even in the same friendship, those moments of attraction don't always line up, so maybe in a year this person will want you more than him. It's okay. It does not put you in a one-down position except for your (valid, but no more than that) feelings that you shared something you wanted and didn't get it. Wanting something and not getting it does not make you a lesser person in any way.

It's what you do next that speaks to your character, which I think is already getting a fine reference that you behaved ethically and with caring. I would just either move on, or maybe say "wow, that feels a bit awkward but I know it will pass."

Equating your value with your sexual attractiveness to a very small sample set is not super healthy, so keep working on that. It takes time. Be kind to you.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:14 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

Eh, a drunk man's words are a sober man's thoughts.

Don't take it as a slight to your attractiveness; in the inhibited light of day he's just got other things going on that make him take a more thoughtful approach when thinking about sleeping with you. The friendship isn't bombed, just stay friendly, don't bring it up again (except to tease him, if it's that kind of friendship) and keep moving along to find satisfaction elsewhere.
posted by mibo at 10:20 AM on January 16, 2015 [6 favorites]

PS. My expertise is . . . having been on both sides of this equation with a dear friend at different times. Conclusion = we find each other attractive on some level and enjoy a great friendship, but on sober reflection sex would probably ruin everything so it's better to keep all the bits zipped in.
posted by mibo at 10:24 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

A friend told me that a therapist said a very helpful thing once, something along the lines of "children of alcoholics often date/hangout with/get involved with alcoholics or emotionally inaccessible people because they want to find the person who will change for him/her. Some children of alcoholics are waiting to be validated in that one way their parents never validated them: someone to change for them. It isn't enough to be loved by someone who isn't an alcoholic. They need to be loved by an alcoholic who will start dating them, see how important and awesome they are, and give up alcohol for them."

So here you are, very much right now needing some validation that you are sexually attractive, and you're hoping this guy will validate you:

I don't think I want to be around him drunk at all anymore, but he's so often drunk. He blacks out at least semi-regularly. To me, he has a drinking problem.

The rejection hurts extra because he's an alcoholic. (I'm going to suggest that you not hang out with him even when he's sober because you've recognized that he's an alcoholic; he's an alcoholic even when he's not drinking.)

People are disappointing. This guy? He's disappointing. He's disappointing as a friend, and certainly not sex partner material. He is not the person to pin your validation on. You already knew that. Because he's an alcoholic.

It is totally okay to slow-fade away from a friend because he rejected you sexually. Friendships that survive a sexual rejection need special skills on both sides to survive the awkwardness. He does not have those skills. How do I know? Because he's an alcoholic.

I'm going to go out on a limb and identify another problem you might have. You might be in that group of people who feel like having a Want (sexual or otherwise) is inherently humiliating. Just having it! Let alone making that Want common knowledge. And then publicly failing to have that Want fulfilled. Letting people see that there's something you want, that you can't have. It's not fair! It's not fair to get past the embarrassment of even having a Want, risking quite a bit to put that want out into the Universe (that kind of bravery ought to be rewarded) only to have the Universe shout "No!" loud enough for other people to hear. It's The Worst.

Some people have this kind of relationship to Want as a result of living with alcoholics. Because your Want is never as important as Wanting Alcohol. Maybe this isn't you -- but it may be another area to untangle.
posted by vitabellosi at 10:56 AM on January 16, 2015 [20 favorites]

A few days ago, another friend of mine who has offered, sober, to help me with my libido problems, requested dirty pictures of me, and has not been in touch since I sent them. That's not helping.

Friend? I don't think so. Sending "dirty" pictures to anyone is risky behavior. Why would it help you?
posted by Carol Anne at 11:44 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

His friend is alcohol, not you. You are attractive enough! BUT. His friend is alcohol.


Hon, the way you are using sex is not healthy. I'm kink positive, but this, the way you link it to your self-esteem, feel it is more powerful than you, the way it leads you relationships that are not meeting your needs.... Buy a hitachi magic wand and get some perspective on your libido, sex, and how you are using it to hurt yourself. You just have good old fashioned sex with yourself for a while and work on a list of needs and deal breakers to use as you evaluate new potential partners going forward. STICK TO THE LIST, OR USE THE WAND :))

Seriously. You're awesome. You satisfy yourself until someone awesome like yourself comes along. Stop settling in friendships and in the bedroom.

#2 on your new list? No substance abuse issues!

#1 is they must treat you with dignity and make you feel comfortable/safe/happy in general.

Don't give up, don't settle. Best of luck going forward.
posted by jbenben at 11:46 AM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

If I were in your shoes, I'd stay away from this guy. 1) He's an alcoholic, which you have, quite wisely, decided is a deal breaker. 2) If he made that offer while drunk and doesn't remember doing so, what else has he done without remembering? Risky sex, other drug abuse? It's not worth the risk to your person.

Please look at what your feeling and see it as a sign that you probably should avoid this guy, at the very least when he's drunk.
posted by SillyShepherd at 12:03 PM on January 16, 2015

Yuck. Your feelings are totally normal. It sucks to indicate that you'd like to sleep with someone and have them tell you they are not into it (especially after they were into it when they were drunk!). Oh man, imagine how much worse it would be if you had slept with him while he was wasted and then he didn't remember it/didn't want to do it again! You sort of dodged a bigger bullet there.

It's totally legit if you want to get some space from this guy and not hang out with him one-on-one for a few weeks till you get your mojo back.

Best way to get your mojo back: go have some hot sexy sex with someone new. Meet them at a bar or on Tinder or wherever.
posted by amaire at 12:07 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would just pretend it never happened. I mean, you didn't tell him "I've been in love with you for years and I'm so happy you finally opened up to me about how much you reciprocate my feelings." You just said, "Hey so last night you said you were DTF and sure why not".

If your friendship is truly a close one, it can withstand this awkwardness.

Also, it sounds like the alcohol thing is a bigger deal than the sex thing. If you dislike being around people who drink, yeah, just drop this person. It's not a big deal.
posted by Sara C. at 1:02 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Did this just happen recently?

I totally understand your feeling "rejected" by this. Two things come to mind:

1. It's possible that the guy is embarrassed about blacking out and that his 'no' is largely the product of shame over being such a booze-hound.

2. With all due respect to all of the people who are down on this guy's drinking habits - I won't judge - if I were you I'd be thinking how you want to handle this guy the next time he has a bit to drink, starts to feel his oats, and remembers that you would like some of his special brand of "help".
posted by doctor tough love at 1:15 PM on January 16, 2015

Carol Anne: I honestly don't see a risk in sending a faceless nude to a long-distance fuckbuddy, nor do I think that requesting such a thing shuffles someone out of the "friend" column. It appears you and I have different values around sex.

doctor tough love: Yes, the night in question was about a week ago and the extended discussion finally came yesterday. I'm going to assume that by (2) you mean, how will I turn this guy down next time he gets drunk, because any other interpretation of your words would suggest you don't value informed consent. And assuming that's what you meant, I have thought about it, and "we've been over this" would probably suffice.
posted by dee lee at 1:39 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

" Maybe part of it is ego, too. I don't see myself dealing very well with someone who knows that I would fuck them, but wouldn't fuck me. I just see it as being an inherently weak or shameful position, even though I wouldn't put that judgment on anyone else."

I think this might bear examination given your casual approach to sexual relationships. It seems... I don't know how to put this... it doesn't add up that you feel so casual about sex, yet the idea that someone who does not reciprocate your feelings knows they make you horny is unbearable to you. That seems odd to me.

Personally, I like casual sex. It doesn't bother me if someone I'm hot for knows it and isn't interested. I mean there are literally hundreds and hundreds of guys I've wanted. Logically, not all of them are going to want me back.

I don't mean to be critical of you. I just thought maybe there might be something more to your feelings for this person than the desire for a fuckbuddy.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:41 PM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

dee lee - I really hadn't though of it in terms of "informed consent" here. Just me, but I think that a person can drink, get buzzed, and still be in enough possession of their faculties to be responsible about things like "crossing the street" and "making a booty call". So I was thinking of readying to cope with *that* kind of situation. Ie, he's been drinking, but he's not totally wasted.

I'm not completely sure I understand where you're coming from, but for the record - I took it for granted that if you didn't jump his bones the first time he got blackout drunk, you wouldn't do it on a second or third instance, either.
posted by doctor tough love at 2:44 PM on January 16, 2015

doctor tough love: As this incident demonstrates, I'm really bad at telling how drunk someone is, especially this guy, who was incredibly functional for blackout wasted, so for me, drunk = no go. I would just feel so awful if that person was drunk enough to regret their decision and I didn't realize.
posted by dee lee at 2:57 PM on January 16, 2015

[hey dee lee, Ask MeFi isn't really for back and forth responses, feel free to hang back and clarify if needed, but you don't need to respond to everyone directly]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:51 PM on January 16, 2015

One good reason to ditch him entirely would be that it would signal to your self esteem that you are the one calling the shots. You aren't just waiting around to be liked or not liked, dammit! You are the one doing the not liking!

Another good reason would be that he's willing to lie to you (he is so attracted to you!) for some weird ego protective bull hooey that you don't need to get tangled up in.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 7:02 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Just a data point: I have a friend who was very into banging me when drunk but when I declined claimed to be blackout drunk. The thing that made it weird was my suspicion that he was more than embarassed I had said no to his less than romantic confession of lust than anything else. Like, I don't think he was blackout drunk, I think he felt weird I wouldn't hook up with him when he was tipsy enough to rationalize going for it.

I'm mentioning this because it really brought home to me that I'm over people who need an excuse to rationalize their desires as much as I'm over people who get blackout drunk. Your anxiety is a warning that this is a weird situation and I totally give you permission to direct it outward at him as the cause, instead of inward to you and your body.
posted by spunweb at 10:01 PM on January 16, 2015 [7 favorites]

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