To what extent are ''drunk man's actions the sober man's thoughts''?
October 6, 2017 5:02 PM   Subscribe

I have received drunk texts by the guy i am seeing for a while, which were quite bad and accusing even though I am certain I have treated him properly and really tried to make him feel comfortable. Afterwards he said he did not remember anything and ' I should not take seriously what people say when they are drunk'.

Uhm, this might be a bit clumsy question, but I am confused.
I am 26 year old female, after a summer romance with a guy we decided to give it a shot as a relationship,even though we physically went seperate ways (he is studying and i'm working on a project).
I need to say, the relationship is good, even though I initially did not want to have it, but he treats me very well, did not put any pressure of me since ive been through a lot lately.
Only twice before we started being a bit more serious, we had an serious argument.

Last night he went out and suddenly started writing to me some really nasty stuff. How he feels shitty, how I don't take him seriously, how he wants me but I don't return the feelings, how nobody loves him and he means nothing to me and I am going to ruin his life and cheat on him, and that he is fine on his own anyway.
I tried to find out what's going on, but he got unresponsive. Let me just point out I have never mistreated or disrespected him on any way.
The next morning he claimed he does not remember a lot and that none of that is true. That i should not put so much thoughts into that because he drinks rarely and it affects him so much when he does. That he is totally happy with me etc.

I would really like to know, what on earth do you think it is the meaning of that as i know many people and also had my youth seeing drunk people (i rarely drink myself), but really hardly outbursts like that.
posted by Salicornia to Human Relations (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Did any of that include "Oh my god I'm so sorry please forgive me?" If not you should definitely dump him.
But even if it did I'd still say dump him. Life is too short and guys who do things they regret when they're drunk are too dangerous to fuck around with.
posted by bleep at 5:05 PM on October 6 [73 favorites]

I'm a recovering alky. When I drank, I was awful to my then wife. Kind of like this, only louder and in person. I finally got the message and got sober. Breaking an addiction is not fun.

If I was a "whoopee" (occasional) drinker, and it did that to me when I drank, I'd have a really easy time of never drinking again.

Drinking to a blackout (not remembering what you did) is NOT the hallmark of whoopee drinker. It's more the mark of an alcoholic. He needs to get his s**t sorted out.
posted by rudd135 at 5:11 PM on October 6 [22 favorites]

Even if his drunk actions aren't his sober thoughts, why on earth would you want to be around someone who behaves this way when they're drunk? Unless he's immediately decided to stop drinking as a result of this incident, what you're seeing is how he'll behave at least some of the time you're together.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 5:12 PM on October 6 [49 favorites]

run like hell from people who seek to disclaim responsibility for their own cruel actions by blaming the booze. It is the hallmark of both a problem drinker and a deep-down true asshole.

All alcohol does is remove inhibitions. What comes out is what's beneath.*

*this is not true for ambien which apparently does make people do stuff they ordinarily wouldn't. but booze, no. in vino veritas is a very old and very true cliche.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:19 PM on October 6 [49 favorites]

Nope. Nope nope. Yes, that's who he is. No, he shouldn't be someone you spend your time and emotions on. He's not in a good place for a relationship.
posted by notquitemaryann at 5:23 PM on October 6 [8 favorites]

You get to make the choice whether this is okay for you or not. Even if someone else will put up with it, you don't have to.

It's that simple, and it's pretty much always going to be that simple as long as you don't get pregnant or become financially dependent on a man. Do you want to be with someone who acts like this? Do you want to be with someone who does something wildly inappropriate and isn't even fucking sorry? Do you want to be with a gaslighter who orders you not to hold him accountable for his bad behavior?

People fuck up sometimes. The ones who are horrified and sorry and strive to do better are the good ones.

I get that young women are under a huge amount of pressure to not have the self-worth to walk away from this shit. Men want women to believe that they must put up with this, that it is inherent to a woman's value, so that men are free continue to enjoy this behavior. They want drunken verbal abuse to be normal. They want you to drink the poop milkshake and become acclimated to the taste.

Yes, you might be alone for a while if you dump him. But you will know the entire ingredients list of your milkshakes.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:24 PM on October 6 [50 favorites]

Was he mortified, explaining how this is definitely NOT a regular thing but there were some kind of unusual extenuating circumstances, and apologizing profusely? If so, I'd say it's a yellow flag, keep an eye out to see if it ever happens again, and if so, get out. Life is too short.

If there was no profound apology, just "oh don't be so sensitive, worrying about my drunk texts" then it's gas lighting behaviour and the most crimson of flags. Get out now. Life is too short.
posted by rpfields at 5:25 PM on October 6 [12 favorites]

A sloppy and embarrassing drunk is one thing but "quite bad and accusing" is another. Time passes terrifyingly quickly.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:32 PM on October 6 [8 favorites]

For some reason the wording "alcohol lowers inhibitions" never really resonated with me, but I heard someone else frame it as "alcohol removes shame" and that makes more sense to me. I think those texts are what he would send you if he weren't too ashamed to sober.

I predict that if you continue to see him, you'll see more of this side of him, drunk or sober, because you'll become more familiar to him. He's insecure and afraid, which makes him angry. But he's ashamed of it, so he won't admit it, and because he won't admit it, he can't deal with it, and it won't get better.
posted by mrmurbles at 5:34 PM on October 6 [30 favorites]

Gotta agree with fingersandtoes: all the alcohol does is remove inhibitions, and what comes out while he's drunk is what's inside when he's sober --- those thoughts and opinions don't just appear out of nowhere.

Whether this is a deal breaker or not is up to you, but that kind of blackout drunkenness is pretty serious. If he isn't already an alcoholic he's well on his way to it.
posted by easily confused at 5:34 PM on October 6 [6 favorites]

In vino veritas (in wine, truth). Booze can lead to you saying things you wouldn't normally have said, but it doesn't create emotions whole cloth. I'd take his sentiments as real and think on where that puts you.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:36 PM on October 6 [7 favorites]

Internet strangers can't diagnose any pathology around his drinking in general, nor do we know your partner.

To your question-- what people say and do when they're drunk is generally true, but often not the Truth. We all have many voices on any one issue in our heads. We tend to express the consensus view. When drunk, the inhibition goes down and you may feel one of the views more strongly than you normally express.

I personally would read this, as you write it, as a flag that there may be some undiagnosed or unacknowledged depression in the picture for your partner. How much you care about that, or care to do the emotional labor of sorting it out, is entirely up to you.

I would not see this as a huge red flag *if he was sorry* for causing you hurt and fear. And by sorry, I mean SORRY. Repentant. Willing to talk about it and anxious to do better.

If he's not sorry, then I would not have much time for the behaviour. Unless I was heavily invested in the relationship, I'd be inclined to walk away.
posted by frumiousb at 5:39 PM on October 6 [13 favorites]

DTMFA. That is all. Don't look back.
posted by beagle at 6:05 PM on October 6 [5 favorites]

If Drunk Me behaved badly to my mate—or anyone else I cared about, for that matter—the very first thing I'd offer once I'd sobered up was a pledge that I would never be that drunk again. Not a denial that I even remembered what I said and you couldn't believe it anyway.
posted by kindall at 6:07 PM on October 6 [14 favorites]

It’s perfectly reasonable to have doubts about a relationship. It’s possible to have random dark thoughts and to basically be happy and committed. The red flag here is his response to your reasonable concerns, which was to blame you and act as if he should get a free pass for whatever shitty thing he does when he’s drunk. That is a gigantic red flag. It speaks to an inability to take responsibility for his actions. For me, it would be a dealbreaker.
posted by FencingGal at 6:39 PM on October 6 [19 favorites]

He is telling you he refuses to take responsibility for his behavior when he is drunk, even when that behavior hurts other people.
If you think about it, that's a really scary thing for someone to be telling you. "I give myself full permission to do whatever when drunk." Do you really want to stick around to see at what point he grows a conscience, if ever?
Even if this dude really never does drink, what guarantee do you have that he also won't take responsibility for doing hurtful things while tired/sick/sleepy/other altered states of the human condition?
posted by sacchan at 6:44 PM on October 6 [10 favorites]

Step#1 - Break up with him using as few words as possible. Then block, delete. Go no contact. RUN.

Step#2 - Congratulate yourself on dodging a scary life altering disaster.

This guy is scary. And a liar. He has abuser potential. Run. Run.

Just FYI... That's not how drinking works, but it is exactly how alcoholic domestic abusers work. There is no grey area. If you try to talk to him or explain your concerns he will talk you out of doing what's best for you, which is getting as far away from him as possible. Save yourself, you deserve to be safe in your relationship. This is not what a safe relationship looks like.
posted by jbenben at 6:52 PM on October 6 [16 favorites]

he is fine on his own anyway.

You should heed his advice to you and leave him on his own. Regardless of his memory or his drinking or the things he said, the lack of concern for the truly shitty way he treated you is the red flag for me. I would not put up with this, my suggestion is that you do not either.
posted by jessamyn at 6:54 PM on October 6 [7 favorites]

Yeah, bolt this scene. Sometimes booze really brings out the worst, and he's probably lying about not remembering. If you are going to date someone who drinks alot make sure they are a happy drunk. This fella has problems that are larger than, but related to, his drinking. Decline to see him.
posted by vrakatar at 7:12 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]

Recovering alcoholic here. Being drunk isn't a free pass to be awful. DTMFA.
posted by Ruki at 7:16 PM on October 6 [9 favorites]

From what you said, he is a very insecure person, and one who doesn't want to take responsibility for his own being.

On a few occasions, I've had too much to drink, and started talking about things that Were Serious. I may have been ham-handed in how I started my tipsy conversation, but the next day, I said it was something that had been on my mind, and that we should talk it out. I didn't pretend that the issue never came up. From what you said, he is hiding behind this, do you think it's worth your time to have to sort out his inability to be honest with you?
posted by kellyblah at 7:21 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]

Setting aside his cruel remarks you are, unfortunately, dating a non-sober alcoholic and that will not lead you anywhere good. Add in the cruelty and his weak-sauce excuse and I hope you’ll treat yourself better than he’s been treating you and DTMFA.
posted by bendy at 7:27 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]

I mean on the one hand, no. Alcohol does not necessarily make someone behave in a more "true" or real way- it just makes people less rational and inhibited. So to a degree I think taking the words or actions of a drunk person to heart is a bad idea. The idea that your "true self" comes out when you're drunk is a bit silly. I've done plenty of things while drunk that aren't reflective of my true self or true feelings. Additionally a lot of people come from a culture that "it doesn't count when you are drunk" which essentially gives them license to behave like a lunatic while inebriated and this is seen as a valid excuse for varying degrees of appalling behaviour. So I don't think he is just pulling this out of his hat.

On the other hand, alcohol *can* act as an opportunity/excuse for people to unleash some shit that is simmering under the surface. That shit may not be what it appears- in this example it might not be what it says on the tin, it may be self-destruction/lashing out/general insecurity/ depression/getting attention/he is just a shitty drunk. It's really impossible to tell.

However, I think the question of whether or not his statements are consistent with what he considers his real feelings is a red herring. I think the real question is "do you really need this bullshit and drama?".

You might decide that he is suitably sincere or remorseful (I might suggest taking remorse with a grain of salt though, all stripes of assholes, losers and addicts are capable of positively brimming with genuine remorse and it doesn't mean much if the problem isn't solved) or significant to you to be worth the bullshit, or that you believe it was a one time occurrence and brush it off.

But in my experience (and full disclosure here, I have been on both sides of this fence) this kind of drama almost always preceeds further drama, typically of an escalating intensity.

He coaxes you into a relationship you aren't convinced is a good idea. Then he gets drunk and hits you with a pile of insecureties and guilt trips instead of talking to you about his shit like a grownup (or drunk dialing you and being happy he is dating you, or funny, or horny, or just stupid... at best he's a miserable drunk)... What next? Do you really need to find out?
posted by windykites at 7:32 PM on October 6 [10 favorites]

I think texts sent while drunk are the equivalent of someone yelling out "I hate you!" in the middle of an argument - it's real for them in that moment, and probably reflects something significant about them, even if it's not literally true in a sober/rational moment. However - you don't really have access to some kind of real true essence of this man, your relationship is the sum of the way he behaves to you and the way you behave to him. This behaviour is part of that - and whether he thinks it is acceptable is also important data.
posted by Cheese Monster at 7:52 PM on October 6 [7 favorites]

One of the best pieces of dating advice I ever got was to avoid relationships with mean drunks. This advice has never steered me wrong.
posted by lunasol at 8:21 PM on October 6 [17 favorites]

When I drink a bit too much, I generally mack on my spouse, get handsy with him, and work way too much innuendo into the witty* things I say. (*Working from my memory here, not my husband's.) If he didn't think it was hilarious, I'd never do it.

For your boyfriend, apparently he does a deep dive into his anxiety and nightmares. I don't understand why he'd ever want to drink, with that response. I can't see why anyone would want to be with him.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:30 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]

Yes yes yes what so many others have said: it's not just that he isn't deeply, profoundly apologetic. It's also that he took the opportunity to air what may be legitimate uncertainties with maximum cruelty and anger, when he could have broached them--drunk or sober--with care and kindness. And you would have responded in kind, and it would have brought you closer together. Instead he took the opportunity to wound you with his uncertainty. At worst he's an abuser showing you the first glimpse of the relationship-to-come; at best he's deeply immature, has no idea how to manage his own insecurities, and inadvertently (through not knowing another way) wants to make it all your problem. There's no reason to stay in a relationship like this. It won't get better in any fundamental sense.
posted by tapir-whorf at 8:43 PM on October 6 [8 favorites]

In vino veritas.
You're seeing the real man
posted by anadem at 9:59 PM on October 6

Yes, I'd be more concerned with that fact that he didn't own up to the obviously sad-sack and paranoid feelings that he was having while pissed, afterwards. This shit was on his mind. Not talking about it is a bad thing.
posted by h00py at 4:04 AM on October 7

My experience with alcoholics, and there were many in my family, is that alcohol only magnifies what is already there, the meanness and cruelty does not come from the drink. The drink just frees up the tongue to express it. Those who are basically gentle people are more likely to become maudlin, cry in their beer drunks than mean or violent. Those who routinely drink until they black out need to deal with that and stop drinking by whatever means works for them.

If your boyfriend will not deal with his alcoholism, you need to get away from this guy unless you are ready for a lifetime of hurt.
posted by mermayd at 5:03 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]

Afterwards he said he did not remember anything and ' I should not take seriously what people say when they are drunk'.

Run away. This person is not only so out of control that they get blackout drunk and blast hate at you, they want you to believe that that isn't a problem. They could only imagine that you would buy this if they thought you were a total idiot.

In short, they don't respect you, drunk or sober.

You deserve better. Dump them and don't look back.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:02 AM on October 7 [9 favorites]

Sounds to me like he has some confidence issues, maybe a bit of depression. Alcohol can bring that stuff out (but doesn't always; it's complicated). I happen to think that people who have confidence and depression issues can be worthy of love. So he might not actually believe that stuff. He might sometimes get self-loathing messages from his brain, which alcohol can accentuate.

He also might actually believe that stuff, and be hiding that fact from you. It's impossible for me to say for sure.

All that said, it is a bad sign that he did not take responsibility for having done it afterwards. Was this conversation the next morning in person? If it wasn't, I think there is a case for discussing this with him in person and seeing if he will take responsibility for what he said. Sometimes people are better about discussing this stuff in person. If it was in's not just bad sign, it's a very bad sign.

I'm not going to tell you to dump him (or not dump him), but do not accept his response as-is. Nobody's perfect, but he needs to take some responsibility for his actions, alcohol or no.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:20 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]

He got very drunk, felt sorry for himself, was whiny, stupid and mean to you, and is not accepting responsibility for his actions. His behavior was unacceptable, you deserve a huge sincere apology, and he needs to deal with his drinking. I'd recommend telling him all that. Do you want to stick with him? Do the pluses outweigh the negatives? Take some time to figure that out.
posted by theora55 at 8:57 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]

1) It is entirely possible that he doesn't remember saying mean things to you when he's drinking.

2) Whether he means the things he says or not, you shouldn't have to put up with it.

3) Behaving "out of character" when drinking, especially descending into cruelty and/or hurtful words and actions may be indicative of much larger issues that deserve to be looked at seriously, for your sake, and for his.

I must respectfully disagree with those who say, "What a man says drunk, he's thought sober." Not only have I observed this to be untrue in two different relationships, I mean, think about it--is every fool thought that enters your mind *really* what you think about something? Or is it perhaps something that requires consideration, mulling over, etc? One of the things booze allows you to do is turn on your mouth before engaging your brain.

As far as my personal relationships, I was very much in love with two different men who were alcoholics. One of them is my fiance who recently committed suicide (see my AskMe post about that for tragic details) and it's my unwavering belief that alcohol was a crucial factor in his suicide. If he had not been drinking July 30th of this year, he would still be alive.

Both he and another man I was deeply in love with and dated for about 5 years could each have one or two drinks and maintain a normal, affable demeanor. However, after a certain number of drinks--sometimes not even that many--they would both become belligerent, verbally abusive, destructive. They became like evil, spiteful children. With both of them, there would come a point where I was no longer talking to any part of their personality that I recognized. That person was unreachable. They would say many things I believe they couldn't remember, but that doesn't excuse the behavior.

R, my fiance who died at the end of July, was an incredible person. Truth be told, both he and my other boyfriend were, when sober, uncommonly affectionate, loving and empathetic human beings. I told R that I had observed how alcohol noticeably eroded his sense of empathy, in particular. The more he drank, the meaner and more out of touch he became. I always thought he was someone who almost felt *too much* most of the time, and alcohol was probably some kind of relief from that, but at what cost....

The alcoholic boyfriend before him was given an ultimatum. I told him that he could not be with me if he was going to drink. I told him I certainly didn't want to be around him if he was going to be drinking, but that generally, I just didn't want to be with him if he was going to be turning into THAT. He agreed and hardly drank at all for the rest of the time we were together.

Unfortunately, while they may not remember what they said or did, while they may sob with genuine remorse and self-hatred, if they do not stop the behavior that makes them treat you that way, you simply cannot be with them. You do not deserve to be subjected to that. It's unbearable. And you will remember what they said. At least I did. It isn't so easy to shrug off after a while...

The last day I saw R we had been fighting which had prompted his "defiant" drinking--he had agreed to stop before that because of previous behavior and nearly wrecking our relationship--and he had returned to his family property, 22 acres, and began drinking. I pleaded with him to stop, to be reasonable. Unfortunately by the time I arrived he had already downed quite a bit. Because he was angry and mean I left again for a while, returning a few hours later hoping to find him, if not yet remorseful, at least somewhat serene. Hoping he'd had a nap. Sadly, no. He had hanged himself. I found him. No note. No explanation. His life and my life: destroyed

Part of me believes he was angry when he did it. That not only pain (which he had, too, as well as insecurity) but mainly rage would have driven him to such an act, knowing I would find him, knowing I would know it was meant to hurt me. To hurt his mother, too, perhaps. I could be wrong. Maybe he felt nothing but guilt or despair. It's one of the hardest things to deal with apart from having lost him--not understanding why. And feeling like he'd still be here if I'd just stayed with him and made sure he was okay.

Most importantly, feeling like he'd still be here if I'd helped to get him into treatment before this could happen. Treatment for his psychological issues and his substance abuse issues.

I guess that's ultimately the point of my very long, very personal comment: please let your boyfriend know that he should probably consider therapy for whatever psychological pain he's in, for the anger he feels--and certainly for his drinking--which does not sound like normal, casual, fun, social consumption of alcohol. You could help him, of course, but if you're not that deeply involved, just make sure you think about talking to him about it. Apart from that, you should ask him not to drink around you and/or consider whether you can be with someone who prefers drinking and treating you poorly to simply not drinking...

R was the love of my life. My one and only. Everything I'd always wanted. My true soul mate. If I could do anything, if I could have a time machine and do *anything* it would be go back months before that awful day and make the call--take his need for therapy and treatment more seriously and get him in there immediately upon recognizing his need for help. He was, at his core, the most beautiful, kind, loving person I have ever known. Alcohol is a very serious and hard drug, despite the fact that it's legal. Take it seriously. All of my best to you and to him.
posted by apis mellifera at 3:45 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]

the relationship is good, even though I initially did not want to have it,

You didn't really want to be in a relationship with him. You had a few arguments before you were even in a relationship. And now he turns out to be a mean drunk who doesn't apologise when he's mean to you.

I think your first instinct, to just go your separate paths after a fling, was the right one.
posted by harriet vane at 7:25 AM on October 8 [4 favorites]

Sounds like all his problems are somebody/something else's fault. Ditch him, as you're now penciled in on that list.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:23 PM on October 8

Dear people! Thank you for your massive support. I decided to take this as a massive yellow flag since he is very inexperienced with deeper human relationship (not that it automatically excuses this behavior!) , and confronted him about it, told him about responsibility he has to take for it and when one more similar thing like this happens, I am out without having to explain myself.
It is just incredibly hard to talk to any RL friends since our (eastern european) culture tends to be quite prone to advocate drunken behavious and considers it as a free pass too often and that just made me confused. IMO, everyone should be responsible for their actions, no matter what influences it. And he apparently feels very sorry now and promises to behave and to take more responsibility, even though he let me down regarding this a few times now. This is the last thing I will tolerate.
posted by Salicornia at 2:53 AM on November 16 [1 favorite]

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