Many, if not most, hookups occur under the influence of alcohol. In fact, research shows that college students don’t get drunk and then decide to hook up, they deliberately pregame first, then drink more out with the express goal of becoming uninhibited enough to go for the hookup. Emotional entanglements after initial hookups are rare (or at least not justifiable), but if two people hook up a few more times, things can get pretty complicated. Both parties are usually maneuvering for the upper hand in the zero sum game that is combat dating. In this era of players pretending to be nice guys, and nice guys acting like Impostor Assholes, it can be hard to figure out what a guy is really thinking. Is getting him drunk a good way to find out?
Consider this story, shared with me by Caroline, one of my regular Hooking Up Smarty Pants.
One fall semester, she met Caleb. Caleb had just been recruited to her college to play soccer after spending a summer training with the Brazil team. Caleb was compact, but very muscular and very handsome. He zeroed in on her right away, paying her a great deal of attention, holding hands in public, telling her about attending his little sister’s tea parties on break, and wearing a medal of the BVM around his neck. She was utterly charmed by this apparent demonstration of his values.
During this period of a few weeks he did not press for full-on sex, though they did hook up. As far as she could tell, he wasn’t seeing anyone else. One night at a date function he got extremely drunk. He flirted a bit with other people’s dates. Caroline was upset but his friends reassured, “Don’t worry about it. He really likes you.” She knew in her gut something was off. As the evening wound down, he turned to her in a group and drunkenly slurred, “Let’s get outta here. I wanna go home and come on your tits.”
She never spoke to him again and a year later he wrote and apologized.
Several months later, Caroline met a guy in a seminar. His manner was taciturn, but when he spoke up she was floored by how smart and interesting he was. She flirted with him after class a bit, and they walked together sometimes. He didn’t express any interest, he seemed like the brooding loner type. One night she saw him out with his friends, pretty early in the evening. She approached and said hello, and he introduced her. She noticed that he seemed nervous, and out of the corner of her eye saw his hands shaking.
The following weekend he texted and they made a point of hanging in the same bar. Again he seemed ill at ease, then out of nowhere planted one right on her mouth in the middle of a sentence. They kissed a bit at the bar, then he pulled back and retreated into moody silence. She couldn’t figure out what he was thinking! (Which of course made her want him badly.)
A month went by, with intermittent communication and meetups, but no real sign of avid interest on his part. One weekend he got really, really drunk. He came up to her and said, “Come home with me. Please.” She did, but in the days following there was no word from him. Furious with herself for falling for another player, she wrote him off and put it out of her mind. A few weeks later, he made a point of coming to her favorite hangout and was very attentive and focused on spending time with her. As the night wore on he got blackout drunk, way too drunk for any bedtime activity other than getting tucked in. But he turned to her, took her face in his hands and said:
“Come home with me.”
“Ha, yeah, doubt it.”
“Please. But only if you stay forever.”
“You’re full of shit.”
“I want you to come and be with me and stay with me. Don’t come for just one night. Stay.”
That was three years ago and they’re still talking. (He is still rather reticent with his emotions.) I hear stories like this all the time. Is it true that a drunk man never lies?
Andrew of Rules Revisited writes in his post In Vino Veritas:
Whenever a man you are interested in interacts with you (i.e. whether he is drunk or sober), he reveals information about himself, even if it is only that he is perpetuating the status quo of the relationship by not giving you any different information.
…With a few negligible exceptions, a man’s actions when he is drunk do accurately reflect his true feelings and intentions. This is because his drunkenness relieves his inhibitions, making him more capable of behaving according to his impulses and natural inclinations. However, from an attracted girl’s perspective, this honesty carries with it an ambiguity, because in addition to relieving a man’s internal inhibitions, alcohol also relieves his external inhibitions; and there is almost no way to judge which one is driving (or, more accurately, allowing) his words and actions. By internal inhibitions I mean those that come from within, i.e. ones that are a product of his personal weaknesses – fear of embarrassment or lack of self-confidence. By external inhibitions I mean those that come from the expectations of society, such as the pressure to date high-quality women, to not sleep with a girl you don’t want to date, or avoid sleep sleeping with your female coworker for fear of upsetting your professional relationship at work. Both types go by the wayside when drunkenness sets in.
…So next time the guy you likes makes a drunken advance, don’t stress out trying to decipher the implications. Instead, acknowledge that it means he is at least sexually interested in you, and wait for your next (sober) data point.
I addressed the same question in one of my earliest posts, Do Beer Emotions Count? Here’s what I recommended:
Interpret beer emotions as a fairly reliable gauge as to where the dude is sitting emotionally.
Keep that knowledge to yourself. It can be useful when you are seeing a guy to know what he’s really thinking, but you squander that if you spill the beans.
Look for a natural progression in his communication, whereby he begins to express his emotions when sober. If he always represses or denies his feelings in the morning, he is not good boyfriend material. In fact, he is probably a complete waste of time. In the end, intentions don’t count. Only actions do.
That last part is the most important. If a guy can tell you he loves you when he’s drunk, but disowns that when he’s sober, you don’t have a loving relationship. There are ways you can encourage one once you suspect he really does have feelings, but your boyfriend can’t be drunk 24/7 (we hope) to tell you what you want to hear. Either he graduates to sober expression of his feelings, or it’s a dead end.
In the next post, I will write about how you can go about using those drunken confessions to make him feel comfortable enough to fall for you and admit it.