/u/pjrevs on /r/relationship_advice writes…
“I (24F) have been friends with Z (24M) for 5 years. Before we properly became friends, we kissed a couple of times on nights out but nothing ever came of it. In the past 4 years we’ve seen other people and discussed the people we’ve been with. We have the same friendship group and I’d say we’re fairly close. He’s been with his gf (23F) for a couple of years now.
Recently the past few times we’ve been out drinking together Z has been telling me how he thinks something more would have happened between us if he hadn’t got with his gf. He’s told me a few times I’ve been looking really good recently and that’s he’s not surprised I’ve been getting more male attention recently.
On a recent night out we were both very drunk and ended up kissing a couple of times. I was more upset than he was when I realized what we’d done, but we both agreed it was a drunk mistake, that we should forget about it and that it wouldn’t happen again. Then at the end of the night after this conversation it happened again and we kissed before we left each other,
I feel so bad about the whole thing, we were both very drunk but that’s no excuse. I’ve got no idea what to do moving forward. Or whether Z actually feels like that or if it’s just drunken chat. Any advice/thoughts on how to move forward would be majorly appreciated.”
It is a good time for you to sit down with your feelings, break down some of those feelings, and establish some firm boundaries.
Let’s first go over what happened. You and Z have had a very flirtatious connection long before you even became friends. It is clear from your post and the underlying context that there is a substantial level of mutual attraction between you and Z. So under the influence of alcohol, you and Z kissed multiple times. Then both of you agreed that it was a mistake, that it won’t happen again. And then as you were separating, you and Z kissed again.
Now let’s dive into those feelings. Guilt and shame are incredibly powerful emotions. They can warp our sense of reality and sometimes drive us to make panicked decisions. You were able to acknowledge in your inebriated state that the act of kissing was clearly a probable violation of not just his current commitment with his girlfriend, but also a violation of the implicit boundaries in his platonic friendship with you.
The act of kissing itself is often an act of betrayal in most monogamous relationships. But the act of betrayal itself is more rooted in the danger of emotional/romantic validation that come with the kiss moreso than the act. The act of infidelity here is worse because there are clearly some feelings that were reciprocated multiple times throughout the night.
The problem is here in boundary setting which is intimately masked by inebriation. I don’t believe that alcohol is an excuse to behave a certain way to dull the actual consequences of those unethical actions. Those intentions have always been there, to explore your attractions to each other. So face those feelings head on decide your next course of action.
One obvious course of action is discussing what happened with Z. There is a lot to unpack there in this brief act of infidelity. You might also want to think about whether you want to disclose what happened to Z’s girlfriend. If you are at all close with her as a friend and you have the emotional bandwidth to provide evidence for this experience, she too deserves to know. Otherwise, leave it alone for Z to handle his own relationship. This is ultimately his own cross to bear.
But the more important step here is to figure out what kind of boundaries you want to set around Z so that this doesn’t happen again. The act itself might have been a mistake, but the intention was not – for both you and Z. If you don’t feel that you can continue to respectful of Z and his monogamous commitment to his girlfriend, consider avoiding any one-on-one time and refrain from drinking around him.
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