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… you give a person drinks to loosen them up

 By Cameron Campbell
This is one of eight posts in the center’s You Might Be Causing Harm If . . . campaign.

You’re at a party and having a great time. A person catches your eye. You haven’t seen them before but, damn, they are attractive! After getting the courage to spark up a conversation, they give you the look. They’re as interested in you as you are in them! You suggest hanging out at your place. They accept. This is it! Hell yeah!

Once at your place, you sit on the couch, drinks in hand. You both lean in and start making out. Your hands start to roam. Suddenly they pull back. “Sorry, I’m just a bit nervous. Maybe not now?” they say. You totally get it. You know what it’s like to be nervous.

You laugh it off and give them another beer. A bit of booze always takes the edge off for you. A couple beers later, you are back to making out. Now seems like a good time so you slip a hand under their shirt. You feel them tense up for a second, but then they let it happen. You make your way to your bed and have a great night.

But in the morning, they are a bit . . .  distant? You text them the next day but hear nothing back. What gives? It was an awesome night and now they’re ghosting you.

Without realizing it, you might have turned what could have been an amazing time into something upsetting for the other person. Think back on what happened. When they pulled away, you thought you respected that decision but in reality you kept pushing. You figured that all it’d take is a couple beers and they’d be yours. You’re probably thinking, “They didn’t say ‘no’ when I  kept going. How is this my fault?”

Let’s think about things from the other person’s perspective. Even though they had already said “no” you kept drinking and then you pressured them again. What were their options at that point? It was late and they were drunk. They couldn’t drive and who knows what an Uber would cost at that late hour, let alone if there was one available. They may have wondered if you’d get violent if they tried to turn you down. Sure, you would never do that but how were they supposed to know that?

The person knows the last time they pushed back you didn’t stop. From their perspective, the smart thing to do was to play along regardless of what they actually wanted. It’s no wonder they are having second thoughts about connecting again.

If you’re willing to own your mistakes, there’s a chance you can smooth things over. Saying something like, “Hey, I feel really bad about what I did the other night. Any chance you’d be down to get a coffee and talk about things?” could go a long way. Of course, there’s no guarantee they’ll be interested. That’s a totally fair consequence for your actions. There’s a very real possibility you blew your chance and you’re going to have to accept that.

If that is the outcome, you still have a chance to reflect and learn. In the future, if a person isn’t into sex, don’t push them. Pause and ask what they want, which shows you care and want them to have a good time, too.

Note: Learn more about the You Might Be Causing Harm If . . . campaign and other topics covered at this link.

Cameron Campbell (they/them) is an undergraduate student in environmental studies with an emphasis on land management and conservation. They are a student staff member at the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention Research & Education.