It Always Comes Back to Why Did I Do It? Was it Just Alcohol, Or Did It Mean Something?

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Reader’s Question

I have been with my fiancée for 4 years now. We started out as best friends for about a year and then started to date. We moved to another state together about eight months ago for her job. I became employed and we had been living our life pretty stress-free until October when her father passed away.

I was worried at this point that she would push me away due to her past actions. I spoke to her about this, and she was accepting and more than caring. During this time, I was texting with this girl who lived back home. She was just a friend. We would strictly talk about our days and plans for the weekend, very boring stuff. Then one night around Thanksgiving, we were both really drunk. I woke up the morning after and found that I had these sexually dirty texts to and from this girl. I immediately felt horrible and told this girl that we shouldn’t have talked like that, but that we could still be friends.

For the next month and a half we would text daily. Like I previously said, it was harmless, “how is your day going” type texting until about a month ago. My fiancée went out with a friend of hers and I went out with my friends. I proceeded to get blackout drunk. My fiancée came to pick me up from our friend’s apartment. When we got home I got sick. When I was throwing up, my fiancée was picking up my clothes that I had thrown all over. During this time, my cell phone vibrated. Concerned it was from my job (being on-call), she asked me if I wanted my phone or if I wanted her just to read it. Apparently I told her to read it because that’s exactly what she did. And to my surprise it was another dirty conversation with this girl back home. Today, I have no recollection of what was said, who started it or anything, but my fiancée — well, now I should say my friend — is devastated. She keeps asking me why I did it, and to be completely honest, I don’t know. I tried telling her that it was just a mistake, but she keeps bringing up how I had this “relationship” with this girl and didn’t tell her about it (which I didn’t so that she wouldn’t get jealous/hurt).

She feels like an answer is going to make everything OK, but I know that’s not true — and the worst part is even if it were true, I don’t have one. It was nothing to me, and she meant nothing to me; I just don’t know why I continued to talk to her after the first time or proceeded to have another conversation like that with her. Now, we are taking it day by day and we have moved forward somewhat, but it always comes back to why did I do it, to which I say, I have no idea.

Psychologist’s Reply

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Consider two interesting links in your story. First, you started texting this girl shortly after you started worrying about losing your ex: “I was worried at this point that she would push me away due to her past actions.” Did you preemptively push her away? And second, you have had a relationship with someone else: alcohol. That is an infidelity that you are aware of and can talk to her about.

Perhaps your behavior with the other girl was totally out of character and completely due to the alcohol. Consider, however, that under the influence of alcohol one can be impulsive and can act on urges without censor. So the question to you is, was this fling just an unbridled alcoholic release, or did you behave in a way that you suppress when you’re sober? That is, did you have to anesthetize your internal censor before this hidden side of you came out? If so, then what could this hidden side mean about you and your relationship with your ex-fiancée?

You may not know or remember what happened, but you can still analyze and interpret what you did. The encounter with the other girl was significant. Even if the girl means nothing to you, you still acted something out with her, and that says something about you. Your girlfriend is right; it’s not to be brushed off as a mistake. Saying that it was just a mistake not only minimizes your girlfriend’s concern and hurt, but also your own opportunity to learn about yourself and your relationship.

Or, it could have been just the alcohol.

She asks you why you did it, and you say you have no idea. That’s a good answer, that’s honest. The next step would seem to be finding the answer. Alcohol isn’t helping you find it. Asking your question here is a start in a different direction. To really help you get some insight into this, talking to a therapist might be better. Depending on what comes up in your conversation, you may want to invite your girlfriend into your session. Therefore, it might be useful to find a therapist who is comfortable with both individual and couples therapy.

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