Last Saturday was a blur for me. I’m not exactly sure what happened but I know that I woke up in a guy friend’s bed. I know where the night started including a lot of pre-game drinks with a big group of my college friends before we headed out to the bar. I’m usually pretty good at holding my liquor and don’t like the feeling of being out of control but I started playing drinking games. Not to mention that I took one of my girlfriend’s adderall before we went out too. I remember most of the night, including bar hopping and continuing to drink more, but I don’t remember how I ended up at my guy friend’s house. He and I have always had sexual chemistry although we have never acted on anything. It’s not that I’m opposed to dating him or seeing where things go but I didn’t want it to happen like this. Where do I go from here? I want to figure out what happened that night and set things straight with him.
-Blurry Saturday Night
Dear Blurry Saturday Night,
You know you were drunk, but you don’t know if you had sex. This is unsettling and I’m sure you have a lot of questions amidst the discomfort of the unknown. For your mental and physical health, I encourage you to ask questions and try to get clarity.
The most direct way to do this is asking your guy friend what happened that night. Understandably this may be awkward, but so is finding yourself in someone’s bed after a blackout and wondering how you got there. It’s scary, but it may better help you understand the situation and what steps you choose to make next.
Voluntary inebriation could have landed you both in that bed and mutually foggy about how you got there. Sex, or no sex, whatever happened between you may be just as blurry for him as it is for you. But let’s make one thing clear. Regardless of sexual chemistry going into the night, or the number of drinks you had and pills you popped, being drunk and losing control doesn’t give someone the right to your body without your consent. Non-consensual sex is defined as rape. If you believe that something wrong happened to you on this night without your consent, I suggest reaching out to someone you trust, or a sexual assault counselor for help.
Being drunk and losing control doesn’t give someone the right to your body without your consent.
Moving forward it’s important to understand your alcohol limitations. Values can become demoted with excess alcohol consumption and lead to confusing scenarios like the story you have shared. Understanding your limits gives you control over how you mix alcohol and relationships.
Dear Blurry Saturday Night,
Saturday night caught you off guard. You are someone that typically keeps your drinking and yourself under control but several things added up to you being somewhere you didn’t expect to be. In particular, it bothers you that you don’t know what happened at the end of the night.
It sounds like you experienced an “en bloc” alcohol-related blackout. Often when your blood alcohol content significantly elevates in a short time period it interferes with your brain’s ability to form new memories. This can be somewhat common among college-aged drinkers including up to 40% of college students in the past year. Many factors can influence your blood alcohol content including eating a full meal prior to drinking, pacing of your drinks, and adding other substances to the mix (like Adderall). The NIAAA has an informative website to help you better understand these factors and how you can approach future Saturday nights.
Regarding last Saturday night, I think it starts with figuring out what you are trying to figure out. You didn’t mention having sex, but if you believe intercouse occurred and you were unable to knowingly consent, it may be important to talk through this event with someone you trust.
Whether that is only friends or something more, you can always reestablish the boundaries you want with any person in your life.
If you don’t believe intercourse happened, but you are simply trying to put together the pieces you may need to do some detective work. Retrace your steps, talk to your friends, and talk to your guy friend to get some other perspectives on the night.
Lastly, if you are trying to re-establish some boundaries with your guy friend, I would start by finding the time and the space to have that conversation. I would admit to him that you are a little blurry on the details but want the truth from him about what he remembers about that night. When things are laid out on the table, I would also be honest with him regarding how you want your relationship to be with him in the future. Whether that is only friends or something more, you can always reestablish the boundaries you want with any person in your life.