I am a 21-year-old lesbian. I have a question about a friend of mine. I have this guy friend. We were very close in high school. He was my best friend for a long time and played a big part in me being comfortable coming out to other friends and family. When we were 17 we were at a party, everyone was very very drunk. It was a party celebrating my very, very recent ex-girlfriend's birthday. I shouldn't have gone to the party in retrospect but I wanted to be supportive of her. So everyone was very drunk—except me, as I had decided to not drink at all. I was sad because of the break up and I was also going through serious depressive episode. This good male friend came and found me and gave me these very long hugs all night and had been very touchy-feely with me.
Later that night all of us friends were sleeping in a tent together, and this friend and I ended up being put next to each other on the very edge of the tent. During the night we got very physically close, as it was a cold night. I didn't mind putting our two sleeping bags together to be warmer. Sometime during the night my friend, being very, very drunk, tried to shove his hand down my pants. He was making sleepy drunk slurred comments about how I was so sad and how he wanted to make me feel better and so on. I told him to stop and he continued to attempt to finger me there in the tent with all of our friends passed out around us. He never did anything to me but I had to nearly break a few of his fingers to stop him. He never remembered doing this after the fact, I assume, because he never brought up the subject.
We were close throughout the rest of high school but I never really felt safe around him after that.
He recently asked if we could get a drink together because we went to separate colleges but I am feeling uncomfortable with this. I am not sure if I feel safe or comfortable or if I have even forgiven him for attempting to do that to me all of those years ago. I am not sure what to do. I may be overreacting and sometimes I think I should just forgive him. He was drunk and I don't think he wanted to hurt me. But I just want some advice on what to do. Should I forgive him? Should I forget it? Should I ignore him?
Thanks for reading this!
Lesbian Before And After Graduation
I'm gonna make a numbered list...
1. "I shouldn't have gone to the party in retrospect." I hope that doesn't mean you blame yourself—even in part—for what happened in the tent. You are not to blame and bear no responsibility for your friend's actions that night. Consenting to being hugged by this friend, allowing things to get a little touchy-feely during a party with a friend, even sharing a sleeping bag with a friend—none of that makes what he did next your fault. You may already know that, LBAAG, and you may not have meant "shouldn't have gone" in that way. But just in case—and if only to emphasize the point to others—I wanted to address it.
2. "Sometime during the night my friend, being very, very drunk, tried to shove his hand down my pants." Your friend may have been very, very drunk, but his very, very drunkenness in no way excuses his actions—and you may not have dropped "being very, very drunk" into the middle of that sentence to excuse your friend's actions. But just in case... I wanted to emphasize the point.
3. "He never did anything to me." Your friend did do something to you—he tried to shove his hands in your pants, he attempted to finger you, and he didn't stop with the attempted fingering until you nearly broke one or all of his fingers. I'm not a lawyer, LBAAG, but I'm pretty sure that meets the legal definition of sexual assault and/or attempted sexual assault. (Both count as things.) If hadn't done anything to you that night, LBAAG, you wouldn't be writing to me four years later about the nothing that didn't happen.
4. "He never remembered doing this after the fact, I assume, because he never brought up the subject." That's a big assumption, LBAAG. Your friend may have been too embarrassed or ashamed to bring it up; he may have figured that you weren't troubled by what happened since you didn't bring it up; or he may have actually blacked out and not remembered what happened in the tent that night. The only way to find out which: bring it up.
5. "He was drunk and I don't think he wanted to hurt me." He may have been drunk, and he may not have wanted to hurt you, LBAAG, but he hurt you.
And now I'm gonna try to your answer your questions...
A. "Should I forgive him?"
Maybe. But regardless of whether you decide to forgive him, LBAAG, please resolve to stop making rationalizations for his actions (he was drunk, he didn't mean to hurt me, he probably doesn't even remember) and resolve to stop minimizing what happened that night (he never did anything to me).
B. "Should I forget it?"
If you could forget it, or were even inclined to forget it, you probably would've forgotten it already.
C. "Should I ignore him?"
I don't think you should ignore him.
You seem torn between feelings of hurt and anger and feelings of affection and gratitude, LBAAG, and if you ask me (and you did ask me) there's only one way out: talk to your friend. Get together with him—for coffee, not drinks—and
ask him tell him about that night. Tell him you've always been troubled by what happened his actions that night and tell him how what happened his actions that night negatively impacted you and your friendship with him—you never felt safe around him again, you weren't even sure you ever wanted to see him again, you're still troubled by the memories of that night.
I suspect you'll know the answer to your first question—should you forgive him—after you see how he reacts. He may remember exactly what happened, he may feel terrible about it, he may express genuine remorse and come through with the kind of no-excuses/no-blame-blurring apology 1. you need to hear and 2. may make it possible for you to forgive him.
And if he doesn't remember what happened that night?
He needs to know he's capable of hurting people he cares about—or professes to care about—when he's drunk. By confronting him, LBAAG, you won't just be doing him a favor—he could wind up expelled or imprisoned if pulls something like that at college or ever again—you'll be doing a favor to any other women he winds up sharing drinks, tents, or sleeping bags with in the future.