Edit: I originally wrote something else out, but this was my original statement and I think it’s much less problematic than my former. I appreciate the perspectives of those who have commented and this is my attempt to take those under consideration.
Recently, I went to visit a friend.
We had been talking off and on and had met in person once. I knew them through the anarchist scene and became friends with them because of how smart, compassionate and nuanced I felt they were as a person. I thought they were this beautiful person who I really wanted to get to know and meet up with again, so I did that.
We talked about boundaries and what we wanted out of the experience a month beforehand, I used my “things I think about when it comes to cuddling list” to explicitly communicate what we would both be interested in.
We had both agreed we were not interested in sexual or romantic interaction. I stand by that I was never interested in that happening. I had not had sex with anyone in over a year. Sex is an anxiety-provoking, high-sensory and ultimately dissatisfying experience for me and I had only faint (if any) interest in having it happen with this person.
As far as romance, it became complicated because we had different notions of what it means to cuddle and how often it should happen between friends. My cuddling/affection towards friends is intended to be platonic but the line can be tricky and I recognize that I overdid it at times. When they later told me they were uncomfortable with touch in general, I stopped.
When I got to the airport, I texted them and told them that I was there. They said they’d order pizza but that they needed to concentrate on their work for a little bit before we could hang out. I said that was fine and that I’d need some time to decompress anyways.
We also had a brief discussion about whether I drank. I told them that I didn’t and when it came to touch, I prefer not to touch people when they’re under the influence of alcohol. Knowing this, they told me that they’d take it easy that weekend. This was a loose rule of mine. I have a person in my life who at one point was drunk and wanted to have sex with me and said it would be 100% fine but I felt uncomfortable because they were exercising impairing judgement.
And so much to my chagrin I’ve been in a similar situation and made a better choice than I did this time around. As you’ll soon (hopefully) see, it’s because I underestimated their similarity.
When I got to this person’s apartment a series of things happened involving food that showed the person who was hosting me had communication, anger and alcohol issues. I am not judging this person for their issues but I mention them because they contributed to our misunderstandings (emphasis on our, not just theirs) about sex and touching more generally. Later in the trip my host would agree that my visit showed them they need to work on communication, which I think speaks to these issues being apparent.
In order to cope with these frustrations and their anger issues (which I don’t remember being told about/knowing about) they decided to start drinking. At that point we had begun talking and discussing things about our lives and relating to each other heavily. The bottle they were drinking out of made me weary but it seemed like a large wine bottle at the time and that there wasn’t a lot left in it.
I looked at the bottle and it said 11% alcohol content which didn’t sound like a lot to me, but I do not know a lot about alcohol. I should have done more research but as it turns out it’s a fairly weak to normal drink. There was around ¼ of the bottle left when my host began to drink it and generally speaking they were acting relatively normal (if perhaps a bit happier/friendlier) so I presumed things were okay.
And then things began to get flirtatious between us. They were acting very gregarious and friendly towards me all of the sudden. I knew it was the alcohol to some extent but they also seemed to be genuinely feeling these emotions too so, with their verbal permission, I started reciprocating.
I asked them if they were okay with touch, at all. Then as things got more physical I would ask as time went along whether they were comfortable and aware of what was going on. As I remember it, they repeatedly stressed things were fine and that they were just tipsy. Eventually I just took them at their word and decided that they seemed cognizant and aware. I concluded that through their actions, their ability to communicate and what I said previously of the alcohol itself.
I now know I should not have taken them at their word and that the responsible thing to do would be to not have had sex with them. They have since claimed they were a) scared b) blackout drunk and I do not remember them acting like either. That said, I am not an expert on that level of drunk (or any level) or reading emotions but I know what fear looks like and I’ve seen folks that level of drunk before from people in real life and in media.
And to the best of my knowledge, they never looked, sounded or generally came off as afraid or blackout drunk. If they had and I had seen it, nothing would have happened. Instead, they seemed very confident and happy with what was going on. It’s of course possible (and this is the case according to them) I misread the situation but that was my reading at the time and it’s my memory currently.
After we had sex we talked about it for the next few days off and on. We mutually agreed it was problematic (though not morally, that was never an area of discussion) and we shouldn’t do it again. I felt bad because of my own self-esteem issues but those things had nothing to do with them and I regret that I couldn’t just let it go and move on at first.
I made a mistake in not saying, “No, let’s wait until you’re a little more sober.” but I did not rape them and I am not a serial rapist. I was irresponsible and will not be having sex with anyone who even touches a drop of alcohol in the future.
I recognize that this situation is (at best) a gray area and one that I actively had a hand in. This gray area ended up making this person feel sexually traumatized and violated and I’m sorry for that.
I deeply regret that this person now experiences what seemed to be a good time for both of us (if misguided) as rape. I don’t know what to say about that except that I did the best I could to make sure they felt comfortable and OK with what was happening. I failed in that and I am very sorry.
I’m not writing this out to refute anyone’s story or claim that anyone is lying. I just want to tell my side of the story to the best of my ability so it’s out there and known.
If there’s anything more I can do to make things right besides changing my personal behaviors surrounding alcohol, speaking about my side of events, feel free to contact me. Again, I’m very sorry for what happened and I’m doing the best I can to take personal stock of myself.