AdviceHey, Bonita!

Dealing With An Unresolved Violation

Hi Bonita,

I’m having a hard time figuring out what’s worth speaking on and what’s better off silently moving on from. About five years ago, I had a weird encounter I considered inappropriate with a friend who was also an ex-hookup. Basically, I was very drunk, they were very sober, and they tried to coerce me into sex. I was very upset about the situation, and we didn’t talk for a very long time. Until recently. We came across each other downtown and had a conversation, just about life and the pandemic, etc. They said they missed me and would like to be friendly again, even if not friends, and I felt a lot lighter about the situation and agreed. However, we didn’t talk about that incident, and from what they said, I don’t think they have any clue as to why we ever stopped talking or that I was so upset about that night. At this point, I’m not sure if it bothers me anymore or not. Do I bring it up? Especially to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Or is it better to just let it go now that we’re older and things are different?

Trying To Move On


These are not decisions to be made quickly or lightly. What that person did was a very serious transgression in my opinion, and clearly you agree that their behavior was 100% out of bounds.  I think that any sober person who would try to coerce sex out of an intoxicated person is not someone to be trusted, and I want to encourage you not to just let this go without being sure that they know what they did wrong and that they have changed. I think it’s a bit naive to assume that they have no idea what was unacceptable about their behavior, especially if y’all have never talked about it. I don’t doubt that you’ve come to feel more peaceful and calm about what happened, but I wonder if this person spent any of those five years reflecting on their grossly inappropriate and predatory behavior.

If you’re not sure if this still bothers you, then it still bothers you. You seem a little cagey about this person’s offer of renewed friendship, especially with such a lack of closure. It’s likely that this person has completely screwed up notions of courtship and dating, possibly believing that y’all were actually on the cusp of having a magic moment before you got too drunk and had to tap out. I can think of many people (let’s be honest here: guys) who have responded to these kinds of accusations with honest-to-goddess bewilderment that they were doing anything untoward. They think that that’s how flirting works, that’s how sex works: get in where you fit in, and all tactics are OK if they get you closer to getting laid.  

That said, I still have no sympathy or empathy or understanding for people who think of consent as an afterthought or something that you can treat like a game. You’re talking about something that happened only in 2017, and I don’t buy ignorance as a reason behind their attempt at coercion. If you plan to talk this out with this person, then prepare yourself for the possibility of them refusing to hear you or walking away. Maybe I’m jaded, but I tend to assume the worst possible response when trying to confront people about sexual or racial transgressions. They’re touchy subjects that no one wants to be guilty of, and sometimes the accused do not respond graciously to confrontation. I hope this person will, but it’s also possible that this could be the thing that ends your friendship with this person for good. Don’t forget that you have every right to curate your social experience, and you don’t have to accept anyone’s friendship or company just because they offer it. I worry that you’re considering all this just because this person showed interest in your friendship, but they’ve already given you profound reasons not to trust them. You can just say no.

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