Do I Give My Boyfriend A Mulligan For Flirting While Drunk?

Mulligan or not acceptable? I read your blog daily, have sent it to numerous of my friends and even bought your online book. I have read tons of self help books and since reading yours, my dating life has changed drastically. I now feel in control of my own happiness and not the needy, clingy, over analyzer I use to be.

 

I’ve been dating this guy for a month and “mirroring” him, which has worked out great. Everything has been amazing so far! He takes me on real dates, follows up right away and is always consistent. For the first time in my life I have been able to just relax and let things flow with out putting a timeline on when things should happen according to me.

 

Anyways, he asked me to come out with him and all of his friends last night because everyone was in town for New Year’s. I was super excited and thought, “wow, he must really like me.” Dumb, right? Got to the bar with a few of my girlfriends and he was beyond drunk. I was my happy self, said hello, grabbed a drink and proceeded to chat with his friends. He hopped around from person to person and was quite close with all of the girls…. I assumed they were all old college friends. However, I was wrong. My girlfriend overheard the girl say she just met him last week at a bar down the road. He then started to chat a girl right near me and rub her back (quite sexually) right in front of me and my friend. I was beyond embarrassed and humiliated when my three girlfriends asked me “what is he doing?”

 

Why would he invite me there if he wasn’t going to talk to me and have other girls all over him/vice versa? When he realized I was upset, he came over to explain they were “just old friends.” I simply said it wasn’t cool, I didn’t understand why I was there and especially when I brought my friends to meet him. Let’s just say he called me “dramatic” and then another not very nice word through slurring. I asked my girlfriends if we could leave without making a scene. His friends kept telling me “oh, he’s just drunk and trying to show off…he really likes you… we have heard so much about you!” Now he is profusely apologizing, saying he was wasted. I use to have a drinking problem and it reminded me of something I would have done two years ago: wake up regretting what I did and realize I meant nothing by it other then my own personal “daddy” issues.

 

Desperately wishing the person I liked would understand, forgive me and hand me a mulligan because I didn’t mean it. Do I give a mulligan??? Or is this not acceptable??? There has to be a fine line between the two and right now its super blurry to me. Please help!

Natalie

Dear Natalie,

This is a GREAT question, and you deserve a lot of credit for one thing: realizing that this reminded you of something you would have done two years ago and didn’t mean it.

…step out of your own shoes, put yourself in your partner’s shoes, and see if you can understand the logic behind his behavior.

Because truly, that is the essence of dating coaching – step out of your own shoes, put yourself in your partner’s shoes, and see if you can understand the logic behind his behavior. The people who are best in relationships are the ones who understand and forgive men for their transgressions. My wife – and her mulligan policy – is just the easiest example that I can use to illustrate this.

(By the way, my wife’s been very cool with all of the fat jokes I’ve been making at her expense in the past few weeks. Why? Because a) she knows I love her more than life itself, b) she has a great sense of humor and c) she’s 8 months pregnant and looks like she ate a volleyball. Why should she be insulted? She also hears every day that I think she’s beautiful and has a GREAT body for a pregnant woman. Moving on…)

As I pointed out in a recent blog post, when it comes to basic things like kindness, self-awareness, and avoiding dispiriting embarrassment, alcohol is usually going to be the culprit. From there, your dilemma becomes as clear as answering these two questions:

  • Is his drinking a problem that is indicative of a larger issue around alcohol, anger management or a loss of control?
  • Was this isolated incident that seems like an aberration from all the rest of his behavior?

I can’t claim to know your new guy’s state of mind. I can tell you, however, that ALL of us have done things while inebriated that we come to regret. And while it’s easy to make the case that booze only lets you do the things you really want to do – and acts as a truth lamp for inhibited people – it also has a tendency to bring out the worst in people.

ALL of us have done things while inebriated that we come to regret.

If you’re emotional, you’ll start crying when you’re drunk.

If you’re depressed, you’ll be more depressed when you’re drunk.

And, finally, if you’re a flirt, you’re insatiable when you’re drunk.

Literally, the last time I had a fistfight – 15 years ago – I got beat up for flirting with a woman too aggressively. Did it matter that I had 8 vodka tonics in the previous hour? Not to the guy who was punching me in the face. But the next day, when I went to work with a sore jaw (and literally NO memory of what happened the night before), and I learned what I did at my friend’s party, I was consumed with regret for weeks. I beat myself up emotionally. I apologized to everyone involved in the event. I quit drinking for 3 months. I tried to do my penance for one embarrassing moment that I couldn’t take back.

So while there’s no defending the guy who drunkenly hit on other women on the very night he invited you to join him for New Years, it is entirely possible that his behavior was out of character and that, given the opportunity to redeem himself, he does just that.

Kudos to you for understanding when to give a guy a mulligan and for having the power to walk away from this situation if he ever pulls that crap again.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Lance

    @starthrower #29, I’m a big proponent of punishing a relationship/dating indiscretion with a similar act. Why? Because it truly gets the point across and let’s the other person know *exactly* how you felt. That will in turn condition the partner to not do it again. Because guess what…just talking about and taking the high road never works.

  2. 32
    Gem

    Lance,

    I disagree. An adult should have enough perspective to relaize when their behavior was bad/direspectful/rude without having to have it *done* to them. Maybe not in the moment when alcohol is involved, but soon after when the head’s clear.

    We all screw up sometimes but having it brought to out attentions with a mature conversation should be enough. Having to have it shoved in our faces with someone doing the same thing and then saying, “there! See how it feels?!” to me, is adding more immaturity, and negativity to the situation.

    I understand it works for you, but if I had a boyfriend do that to me when I upset him, instead of just calling me on whatever I did verbally, I’d be gone. The tit-for-tat idea can quicly turn into one-upping and distrust and disrespect will take over faster than wildfire, imo.

    I have enough empathy to be able to understand how someone felt by my actions when they tell me without having to experience it as the victim and I’d want a partner able to do the same.

  3. 33
    Barb

    WALK AWAY……….  This is when a man is on his best behavior- in the beginning.  He’s immature and this is a taste of things to come.  ACTIONS SPEAK LOUD.  There are better men out there.  THIS ONE IS DEFINITELY A FIXER-UPPER.

  4. 34
    Annie

    This is a weird one.

    I have a very close friend, who dated a guy that whenever he got drunk, he was actually quite horrible. He would call her a bitch, say she was a nag and be very very mean.

    She tolerated it, and put it down to drunk behaviour. I said to her, you should never tolerate that crap from a guy, he will just get worse. I was wrong.

    Here’s the interesting part. She accepted it, and told him about what he said to her the night before. She didn’t judge, she just said “You called me a bitch last night, and a “ho’ and you were really drunk”.

    Eventually, she clued into the fact that he only got that way drinking spirits. So she asked him, if he wanted to drink could he stick with beer. He began drinking only beer.

    Long story sort, they have been married for 15 years, They even fought a horrendous battle together to win custody of his children(from another relationship) which is a real test of any relationship.

    And everytime I hear her say anything about her husband, he is her stud. That’s her name for him. “I love my stud, look at my man enjoying the pho I bought for him!!.

    I think women can be very afraid of male behaviours and react immediately to what they percieve as a threat to themselves. To this day, I cannot figure out how she knew he’d make a good husband. They are very happy, she loves him, and he loves her.

    I don’t know what I’d put up with, I do know however that I can’t create some kind of litmis test for a relationship. You can’t be scared of everything. In many way’s , you have to trust yourself, and your ability to love a man. You can’t change him, but if you accept him, he will try, it seems he just needs sometimes an incentive to do so.

  5. 35
    Annie

    @33

    This will never work.

    My friend I mentioned above, showed me this.

    We all went away for a weekend(group of friends). Kids were there, so we ended up picking nights we’d go out so some of us could stay back with the children.  My friend and I went out and didn’t leave the bar till around 3 am. When i suggested a cab she said no, I’ll call my stud. She called him, he said hell no he wasn’t getting out of bed, and we caught a cab.

    The VERY next night, he went out with his friends, and called, at around 3 am. She agreed to pick him up. I said “girl, he didn’t pick YOU up, why you picking HIM up? The only way you’ll teach him resepct, is to stand up to him.”

    She quickly responded “I don’t play games”. I did not get it.

    She doesn’t play games. She, at that moment, was willing to pick him up. The night before, at that moment, he was not willing to pick her up. She doesn’t keep score.

    This attitude of course, enables her to say NO to her guy whenever she wishes, and he could say NO to her whenever he wishes. Amazingly, most of the time they say YES to each other.

    Don’t play games, do what you can to love your partner but dont’ do anything because you want something in return. Do it willingly, or dont’ do it at all.

    I learnt this from her.

  6. 36
    Paul

    I have to give you props for “going with the flow” at first but ultimately it is unacceptable for anyone to behave like this.  After being married for over 10 years I can truly say that the love of your life would not do something like this. Dating can be stressful enough so the added pressure of having your date hit on others is not needed.

    good luck with your future dating!

  7. 37
    BeenThereDoneThat

    My dating/relationship philosophy is and always has been to not do something if i wouldn’t like my partner to engage in the same behavior.  Kind of inverse from Lance’s stance.  

    I would probably bail on this if I were Natalie.  I just don’t believe in name calling; drunk or not.       

  8. 38
    Sarahrahrah!

    @Karl R. #18

    Really, Karl?  You’ve never experienced “quite sexually” arousing back massages that stayed within the back zone?  I’ve got a big secret for you:  massages are very stimulating *for women.*  While I can’t speak for all women, I can tell you that I will judge a man’s sexual potential by the massages he gives.  Just in case you don’t see the analogy, a massage is a muscular, steady, rhythmic movement — does that remind *you* of anything besides dancing?  ;-) 

    IF I saw my boyfriend giving another woman a back massage and he wasn’t a massage therapist, we’d be done. 

  9. 39
    Karl R

    Sarahrahrah! asked: (#40)
    “You’ve never experienced ‘quite sexually’ arousing back massages that stayed within the back zone?”

    You mean with the shirt off, massage oil, candlelight … the sorts of things that almost certainly weren’t happening in a crowded bar?

    Sarahrahrah! said: (#40)
    “I’ve got a big secret for you:  massages are very stimulating *for women.*”

    So a cute guy gives you a muscular, steady, rhythmic massage, and you find it sexually arousing.

    When a middle-aged, homely, female professional massage therapist gives you the exact same massage, do you become sexually aroused?

    Unless you answered “Yes,” I would say that it’s not the backrub that’s sexual. It’s your choice of how you perceive the experience.

    Sarahrahrah! said: (#40)
    “IF I saw my boyfriend giving another woman a back massage and he wasn’t a massage therapist, we’d be done.”

    For obvious reasons, I don’t date anyone who is that jealous and possessive.

    I agree with BeenThereDoneThat’s philosophy (#39). If it would bother me to see my girlfriend give a guy a backrub (or be given a backrub) or otherwise rub a man’s back, then I wouldn’t do it.

  10. 40
    jrd

    Annie @ #36 & #37, though I must admit that I would not have stayed with a man that acted the way your friend’s future husband did, I am impressed with her philosophy of neither playing games nor keeping score.

  11. 41
    SJZ

    Run girl run! I was married to an abusive man for 21 years. Any man who will call you names and tell you that you are dramatic when you express concern over his actions is trouble! This is only the first or second month you have been dating him! I shudder to wonder what he will do next drunk or not! Drinking does NOT excuse ANY bad behavior. If this is the way he is trying to impress you, it is NOT working. Find a man who can impress you with his maturity and not his immaturity! By the way Evan, calling your wife fat while she is pregnant is funny for awhile but, in the end it can get real old real fast!

  12. 42
    Gem

    Karl,

    I know you don’t get it, but yes, one CAN rub another’s back “quite sexually.” It is not just the receiver perceiving it as such, either.

    There is also *intent* All kinds of unspoken body language can go along with a back-rub that make it obvious to the receiver and those watching that sexual intent is involved. Since the OP said he was flirting it up with everyone, I’m sure there were flirtatious gestures included in that back rub to make it obvious it was not simply two body parts meeting like that of a paid massage therapist. 

    There are subtlties and nuances to human behavior that communicate intent. A woman usually KNOWS when she is being touched with a brotherly affection verses sexual intent. I appreciate you are playing devil’s advocate, but give the girl some credit, she was there.

  13. 43
    Christie Hartman

    I’m with Selena and Jamie on this one. NO MULLIGAN! Not for this guy. Yes, you should be on the lookout for red flags, and yes, not all of them turn out bad and sometimes you have to see what happens. But drunk + chicks + massage + flirting + calling her dramatic + calling her some other name = JERK. Alcohol only brings out who we really are deep down. Not a chance should you trust this guy. Walk away, woman!

  14. 44
    Selena

    That’s the thing Christie, there was alot more to this incident than just “flirting while drunk” as it has been trivialized.

  15. 45
    Karl R

    Gem said: (#44)
    “the OP said he was flirting it up with everyone,”

    Evan has previously said that he is a flirt. I’m a flirt. My girlfriend is a flirt. We exhibit this flirtatious behavior even with people we’re not interested in having a relationship with (or even sex with).

    Gem said: (#44)
    “There is also *intent*”
    “I’m sure there were flirtatious gestures included in that back rub to make it obvious”

    I can watch my girlfriend talk to men whom I know she turned down multiple times when she was single, and I can see why they would have thought (and still might think) that she was interested in them.

    Similarly, I’ve had numerous people get confused regarding which woman is my girlfriend when we’re out at one of our normal dancing hangouts. I might chat with, flirt with, dance with, hug or otherwise have some physical contact with a couple dozen women. The one I passionately kiss is my girlfriend.

    Short of reading the man’s mind, how do you know his intent?

    Natalie said: (original post)
    “He then started to chat a girl right near me and rub her back (quite sexually)”

    Why is everyone convinced this was a back-rub/massage?

    If I’m chatting with a woman -and- rubbing her back, I’m standing beside her (where I can hear her and make eye contact), my forearm is across her back, and my hand is moving up and down a few inches (or back and forth a few inches).

    And having given/received more back-rubs in bars than I can conveniently count (probably because I don’t expect sex to be part of the exchange), I can point out a few of the logistical issues. Typically both people are seated, one behind the other. That’s not conducive to chatting in a noisy environment. If both people are standing, then Newtonian physics become an issue: I apply pressure to the other person’s back, they take a step forward, and I take a step back. If I’m giving a backrub to someone who is standing, I’ll have one forearm across the person’s collarbones so I can counter the pressure I’m applying to his/her back. Since balance is an issue, I wouldn’t try to give a standing back-rub while drunk.

    Steve said: (#26)
    “These threads are almost like a legal workshop.   The facilitator gives us a mostly complete story.  People conjecture and interpolate.”

    And the phrase: “Objection. Assuming facts not in evidence,” keeps coming to my mind.

    We already know this man behaved like a jerk in this instance. We don’t have assume things that might or might not be true.

    Evan’s initial advice holds true. Natalie can give the guy one mulligan if she wants to. If she doesn’t want to, it’s a moot point. If he blows it again, he’s established a pattern of behavior.

  16. 46
    Selena

    Karl,

    Natalie asks, “Do I give him a Mulligan??? Or is this unacceptable???”

    Ofcourse she can give him one if she wants too. But some of us believe it is unacceptable. That’s what comes from having a comment section – if someone asks questions they will get opinions  besides EMK’s.

  17. 47
    Selena

    Oh, and whatever anyone has to say, including you Karl, is moot anyway. Six weeks have passed, Natalie already resolved the situation one way or another without any input from this blog.

  18. 48
    Gem

    “We already know this man behaved like a jerk in this instance.”

    In what way do you think this man behaved like a jerk?

    You’ve defended flirtatious behavior because it doesn’t necessarily mean the flirt wants to take it farther. Therefore, without reading this guy’s mind, the OP cannot KNOW if he had any nefarious intent.

    You’ve also said his infamous back-rub may have been completely innocent like when you touch a dance partner and just because it LOOKED sexy and flirtatious to the OP, it doesn’t mean he meant it that way. 

    “We don’t have assume things that might or might not be true.”

    Apparently, we do, because as you say, “Short of reading the man’s mind, how do you know his intent?”

    And therfore, you make it sound like while his behavior made the OP uncomfortable, it may be her assumptions and over-reactions to his drunk, but completely innocent behavior.

    It doesn’t matter that the dude probably had no intention of going home and nailing another woman, what he did in front of her eyes was disrespectful enough. The OP doesn’t need to be a mind reader to know that he DID flirt and behave suggestively to other women and he DID make himself look untrustworthy.  

  19. 49
    Sayanta

    Annie-

    #36, that’s a very interesting story- I have to say that kind of behavior would literally have scared me off- I’m not even talking respect issues anymore, but actual fear. So- it’s pretty amazing that he’s turned out to be the way he is. I don’t think that this is the norm by any means, though.

  20. 50
    Karl R

    Gem asked: (#50)
    “In what way do you think this man behaved like a jerk?”
    Natalie said: (original post)
    “I simply said it wasn’t cool, I didn’t understand why I was there and especially when I brought my friends to meet him. Let’s just say he called me ‘dramatic’ and then another not very nice word through slurring.”

    Given human nature, I’d say that it’s extremely likely that the boyfriend called Natalies a “dramatic [not very nice word]“, and he said it in public. And that behavior made him a jerk (and potentially crossed the line into verbal abuse) …
    … even if she was being dramatic.
    … even if she was being uptight.
    … even though he was drunk.
    … even if she had said something equally inappropriate immediately preceding his statement.

    If your partner is upset, you should immediately defuse the situation, then discuss the situation later, in private, when everyone is calmer and sober.

    Gem asked: (#50)
    “you make it sound like while his behavior made the OP uncomfortable, it may be her assumptions and over-reactions to his drunk, but completely innocent behavior.”

    Which is entirely possible. And if that is the case, I would feel that he would be completely justified in dumping Natalie for that reason. But he wasn’t justified in saying what he said.

    Selena said: (#49)
    “and whatever anyone has to say, including you Karl, is moot anyway. Six weeks have passed,”

    This may still be relevant and current to Natalie. She may have decided to give her boyfriend a mulligan six weeks ago. How often does he get drunk? If he gets drunk again and behaves badly, then people have been perfectly clear that she should immediately dump him. He shouldn’t get a second mulligan.

    That could still be a future event.

    Selena said: (#48)
    “some of us believe it is unacceptable.”

    Having that belief is fine … unless it gets in the way of finding a relationship.

    A lot of women on this blog are drawn to the charismatic men with whom they have chemistry. If you study that group of men carefully, I supsect that you’ll discover that most of them are very good (and frequent) flirts.

    What happens to a woman’s love life if she’s initially drawn to the same behavior that she finds unacceptable one month later?

  21. 51
    Goldie

    I still cannot get my head around Annie’s comment #36.
     
    “I don’t know what I’d put up with, I do know however that I can’t create some kind of litmis test for a relationship. You can’t be scared of everything.”
     
    I see it a little differently. To me, it’s not as much being scared as being practical. I have to ask myself, at the end of my day after work, would I rather come to an empty home, or would I rather come home to a man that may call me a bitch if he’s drunk? In my case, I’ve been called that in the past, so I know from experience that I dislike it A LOT, so for myself, I’d probably go with the empty home. It’s more enjoyable, to me.
     
    Also, in my particular case, I’ve got to ask myself this as well – do I want my children coming home to a random (to them) guy that calls their mother a bitch when he’s drunk? Um, NO. It’s logic. No assumptions, no projections, just logical reasoning.
     
    Agree with the next comment about the not keeping score part, though. Lance, I really enjoy reading your comments, but your suggestion in #17 is pretty PA. And I don’t take PA very well. If something I did made my partner feel bad, he should just say so.

  22. 52
    Annie

    @51 and 53.

    I will admit, her behaviour really did confuse me for a while, and I couldn’t understand how she put up with it. Bottom line was though, she was absolutely right. When he was sober, he was completely lovely and a very funny guy. When he drank beer, he was just a big goof-ball. When he drank spirits, he was Dr Hyde..

    I will never completely understand my friend, but she makes the best out of every situation. I might go to the bank with her, and there’s a line for at least 30 minutues. By the end of it, she will know everyone’s names in the line, she will have everyone rolling around in stiches,a few phone numbers will have been swapped and one time(if you can believe it), she got a pile of dour faced adults in a bankline, to join in a sing-a-long of row-row your boat.

    Honestly, she was zany and full of life and one of the most amazing people. I probably wouldn’t have taken her approach with his drinking either, but I learnt so much for her extrodinary capacity to accept everyone for who they were, and still keep herself safe from any kind of harm.

    She definately taught me, that you just can’t keep score, and you must be able to accept everything about some-one else to be with them, but you can still have the self-confidence to ask for what you want or need from some-one(IE start drinking beer instead of spirits) and believe that you are worthy of a response.

  23. 53
    Lilly

    First off, when do we give mulligans and what is appropriate? Evan says that men like women who say YES to them, but at the same time they want nice girls with boundaries? I keep saying yes, but I feel like a doormat. If I set boundaries, I seem to be saying NO to them. 

    I give mulligans, but it seems that men are getting away with bad behaviors and they lose respect for you. He only meets me on the weekend, Ive met his friends, weve slept together as Ive said yes to him, he offers things and I say yes, I am nice, I try to not be unreasonable….but it seems that he is still keeping me at arms length. Its only been 2 months.

    He still has his online dating profile up? DO I give him a mulligan or not? He only texts me once a week and thats to set up a weekend date? Do I give him a mulligan or not? 

    Evan says men fall in love with women who dont resist them, so I keep saying yes to the date, I say yes, yes, yes, YES, YES! But I dont get what I want. Do I walk away?! I try to be forgiving, reasonable, empathetic, but it seems that I am still the ‘weekend girl’. 

    He just asked for another date and finally I said NO. I find that if you give men what they want TOO early, they lose respect. I cant keep saying YES…when in reality I am becoming the easy girl and men dont want easy girls. They want to chase you!

    Everything is contradictory. Do this, DO that, I think I am not going to do anything anymore. I say yes in hopes that he will be more committed, but it seems that I am only letting poor behavior slide. When I forgive and give mulligans, it seems that he thinks its acceptable. 

    Aghhhh….I am just going to avoid him now. I am not going to say YES anymore. I am going to say nothing.

  24. 54
    Sabine

    People can be flirty when they drink too much and more so if they normally have the tendency to be flirty on a daily basis. If you date someone who is flirty, you know what you are getting yourself into. If you can agree to disagree (he flirts but he is my boyfriend) then you have already come to terms with it.  Flirting is one thing. Being the captain at the bar with a whole group of crew-women is another.
     
    I think she was excited and proud to introduce her new guy to her friends. I also think this side of him shocked her…more than she could have expected. And if it were my friend this happened to, we would have left and chilled out somewhere to diffuse all the emotions.  Name-calling hurts whether its said in a drunken state or not. 
     
    Had this New Year’s “meet-up” been a traditional date where they arrived together and he introduced her to everyone and was then an ultra-flirty man leaving her with friends to “man the ship and the crew, ” I would be confused as to why he brought me. But, this is not the case; they met at the bar. This is not an excuse, it’s an observation. I’m the first to admit I am a highly sensitive lady, though I am working on it! It seems the festivities were more of a gathering and she thought he would have been “the man” she was dating. Instead, he was another side of himself who she did not know existed. We all have those sides….some are prettier than others. :-)
     
    In my heart, I believe you should accept people as they are. Likewise, there are some things I am not willing to accept in a relationship…so at some point, you decide which imperfections you can accept and which imperfections he will accept from you. I think she needs to get to know is guy a little better….it’s her call whether or not to offer a mulligan. For the first time, I won’t offer an opinion except I can just say, go with your gut; let that be your guide.

  25. 55
    Been There Done That

    Run!  You give one mulligan, you will give many more. I have breaks too. Always made excuses. Always waiting for him to grow up or straighten out. A drunken flirt will always remain a drunken flirt. My husband has brought me so much pain over this one issue throughout our marriage. Looking back, I wish I trusted my instincts at the start and walked away. His flirting has led to many indiscretions and affairs. Save yourself and do not repeat my mistake!!!  A drunk flirt cannot be trusted. 

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