He Flirts While Drunk

Discussion boards on the right of the page. Love Letters/Extra Bases party June 4.
The booze chapter of the Love Letters book will be a thick one …


First of all, love the column. Best 10 minute break in my work day, when I discreetly pull up Love Letters on the computer. I’m a sucker for a good story and even better advice.
I will try to be succinct with this one — I’m 27, he’s 31. We’ve known each other for four years and realized that we had romantic feelings for each other almost two years ago. Things are great and not so great, but that’s par for the course as people get to know each other more intimately and eventually live together (which we do). We always work through things by communicating our concerns/feelings/etc. I love him– he’s amazing and supportive, gives into my crazy whims, and is just ideal in every way (I know I’m setting myself up with that phrase, but the whole good-on-paper thing is true here). Anyway, I totally have baggage with our relationship …
Just before we started to “officially” date, we tested out the waters with date-like activities and grilled cheese types of sleepovers. As it turns out, he was also dating three other people at the time but never told me. OK, fair enough, we weren’t in a relationship, and I knew that if I wanted to be with him, I had to forget about what happened before he and I became “us.”
Fast forward to the present. He has a lot of girl friends with whom he plays co-ed sports. I’m good with that — I have a lot of guy friends. On occasion, when we’re out drinking, he might touch one of the girl teammates a little more than he should or just say something odd. I’ve confronted him about it. He is always apologetic. Mind you, this has happened maybe once or twice, and yes, I’ve gotten to know most of his teammates, male and female, just because they are super nice people I see out a lot.
BUT, what do I do when he is blatantly drunk and does something obnoxious right in front of me? We were at the Hong Kong (before it burned down), and he apparently grabbed some girl’s rear. I only know because the girl yelled at him about it when I was trying to leave the bar. This past weekend we were out, and just before last call, we were standing near the doorway when he started texting some girl I don’t know and gave her a pet name in the text (not a harmless one either). I only know this because I was standing right beside him and looked over at his phone while he was typing.
I’m a wreck. I always thought I was smarter than this, staying in a relationship with a guy who does dumb things when he is drunk.
I question where this leaves us and our future. At some point (and maybe it’s now), he has to know that drunken antics at our age when we have started talking about our future together are not okay. So … what do I do? Am I making too much of this?

– Trying to be Trusting, Boston


TTBT, you’re not making too much of this. He can’t handle alcohol. It makes him do very, very dumb things like flirt with women while you’re standing right next to him.
And … what happens if you don’t join him for one of these nights out? How can you trust that the flirting won’t cross the line or that the woman whose rear he grabs next won’t reciprocate?
His behavior is ridiculous. But what bothers me even more is that he knows he has upset you and misbehaved, yet he continues to drink and put your relationship at risk. Does that mean he’s comfortable with this behavior? You’d think that he’d feel so silly about what he’s done that he’d avoid the late-night bar scene and stick to the sports.
Another talk is in order. A real one. Apologies are useless at this point. There needs to be a real solution to the problem. Is he willing to stop drinking to save the relationship? Even if he does stop drinking, will you be able to trust him when you’re not around? Does he see himself on the Scorpion Bowl scene in another year or two?
Have the talk you’ve been avoiding. And have it with yourself, too. Is there anything he can do to make you feel safe within the relationship? If not, start making your own plans. Becuase when your gut tells you that you’re not safe, you probably aren’t.
Readers? If he stops drinking, should she stay with him? Does his need to pursue women while drunk mean that he’s not really committed? Should he have to stop drinking? Will he grow out of this? Does his past (dating three women while having pajama parties with the letter writer) have anything to do with his present? Thoughts.

– Meredith

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