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Auntie SparkNotes: My Crush Only Flirts with Me When He’s Drunk

Dear Auntie SparkNotes,

I’m a 22-year-old recent college graduate and I currently started working my first job at a really large company. I’ve always been a really fat person, and a large part of my school life dealt with coming to terms with my size and accepting myself for it. When I started college I was mostly convinced that I was too unattractive to ever be asked out or have a non-platonic relationship, a belief that was shaken when one of my close friends asked me out in the first few months. Lost and confused, I kicked up a huge fuss that I really regret now, and mostly just laughed at him. Even after this though, I thought he continued to act as a good friend, he did nice things for me, called me to hang out at his house, and generally tried to brighten my day, everyday. In the midst of all this, we got drunk together on a group beach trip one day and ended up having really good sex.

Things changed for the worse after this though. All our friends ended up finding out, and two of my girlfriends came back and told me he said he would have never done it if he hadn’t been so drunk. He would continue to call, text, and sweet-talk me whenever he was drunk, though, telling me how much he likes me, and how awesome I am, even though he started to date, and kept dating, his current girlfriend right after we hooked up. After a little digging around, my friends learned that after I had publicly turned him down that one time, his entire guy gang found out about it, and kept teasing him for having “weird” tastes in women.

As horrible as this seemed then, he gave me a new-found appreciation of my specific set of charms on men, and for a year or so in college I kept hooking up with guys who thought my body was just as hot as my brain. The only problem though, was that none of these guys ever seemed willing to bring up a hookup to a true relationship: the minute I’d mention maybe meeting each other’s friends, they’d disappear on me. I decided I would only date a guy who is brave enough to ask me on a proper date to a public place, hold my hand in front of everyone, and be willing to introduce me to his friends. I might be single, but I respect myself and don’t feel like anyone’s dirty secret.

But now I have a new colleague at work. We hit it off right away, and we not only hang out together constantly during the day, we keep texting and calling afterwards just to see what the other is doing, or just because we want to talk. However, he has recently started drunk-texting and calling me late at night. He is usually a little too happy on these calls, saying stuff about how he seems to live for our conversations nowadays, and how I always make him laugh, and how much he likes me and has never met anyone as attractive as me, stuff he wouldn’t ever say when sober.

I’m mighty attracted to this man, and keep wanting to tell him how I feel. But if he turns out to be like all the previous men, I’m afraid I won’t be able to handle it. Plus, he has been in a committed (though long-distance) relationship for a few years now, which makes all these drunken late night calls seem even more suspect. Every time he calls me and tells me how funny I am, or how amazing, I keep wanting to tell him how I feel and to ask him out, but the fact that he is drunk stops me. The advice from my friends falls on both sides of the fence, as there are those that believe that alcohol makes you a lot more honest than you usually are, and those that tell me it’s a bad idea as he never says any of that stuff sober. Advice?

Well, sure, Sparkler! That’s what Auntie is here for—even when, as in this case, I’m not sure you really need any. Not only do you have an enviable case of confidence and a kick-ass life philosophy (I am standing and clapping for your choice to hold out for nothing less than the love and respect you deserve!), but you also have smart and supportive people in your life who love you enough to tell you the truth and can help keep you on track as necessary.

And when it comes to reading the situation, the truth is, all your friends are onto something—because alcohol doesn’t make you honest, but it does make you uninhibited, which means that any truths you spill under the influence have to be taken with a grain of salt. Think of it this way: if you get wasted and pass out in bed underneath a half-eaten pepperoni pizza, that’s not because you are, in your truest and innermost heart of hearts, a disgusting pizza-cuddling slob. It’s because the equally true and equally innermost part of you that is capable of considering the consequences of your actions (i.e. the part that would ordinarily poke you and say, “Hey, let’s call it quits after this slice and put the pizza away so we don’t wake up hungover AND with pepperoni stuck to our nether regions”) has been temporarily disabled by booze. Drunk people aren’t more honest, per se; they’re just more likely to obey their impulses.

So when a guy who’s in a long-term relationship with another girl calls you up and starts pouring on the compliments, you can assume that he’s telling the truth—but you can’t ignore the part where his honesty only surfaces when his better judgment is off in a corner somewhere, fast asleep and drooling on itself. Does he have feelings for you? Yes! Almost undoubtedly! But he also has a series of filters (not to mention, y’know, a girlfriend) that apparently prevents him from expressing those feelings almost all of the time, and that version of him is no less real than the one that dials your number at drunk o’clock.

All of which is to say, there’s a good argument here for setting your expectations low before you talk to him about his drunk-dialing habit and what it means. Not because he’s just like all those other jackasses who wouldn’t date you in public, but because he may well be his own breed of jackass: the type who tries to eat his cake and have it, too, when it comes to cultivating intimacy with one woman while committed to another. And whatever his motivations, you deserve better than to be anyone’s secret sidepiece.

But you know that, right? I know you know that! And I also know that despite your fears, you are strong and smart and fierce enough to cope with being disappointed by this guy, if a disappointment is what he turns out to be. Because he might not! You just won’t know until you ask —which is why you should ask, unapologetically, when he’s sober enough to give you a thoughtful response. In your own words: “Hey, can we talk about what you said on the phone last night?”

The answer to that question may not be what you’re hoping for, but it’s one you should know, so that you can use the information to determine where you go from here. And while I don’t know where that will be, I also have no doubt that you’ll figure it out, because if there’s one thing you’re clearly great at, it’s knowing what you want and moving confidently in the direction of a life that fulfills you.

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