Will your girlfriend be the same?

The dilemma I met someone at work, except he has a girlfriend. We went out one night drinking and, of course, ended up sleeping together. It happened every Friday night for the next two months, as he kept asking to come over. Now I’ve moved, but before I left he wanted to spend every minute with me and still calls me when he’s drunk. Early on, he said we should slow it down and that he didn’t have feelings for me, nor would anything ever evolve (unlike what he’s told me while he’s drinking). So why is he contacting me every day and asking questions about when I might move back? I don’t understand whether he has feelings for me or not.

Mariella replies Do you really care? He may have feelings for you, but they’re nowhere near as strong as the ones he has for himself. This man’s focus is definitely directed at his own desires, not yours. Luckily for him you’re playing along, offering him no-strings sex despite knowing that he is involved with someone else. Why is it that consorting with someone who commits an act of betrayal fails to suggest to us that most likely we’re being similarly deceived?

I’m not going to lecture you on your moral choice, except to point out that you did actually make one. Our ability for self-delusion is never more impressive than when it comes to sex, where we shrug off responsibility even faster than our clothes. You walked into this relationship with all the facts before you. The man you “of course” ended up sleeping with had told you he had a girlfriend and at no point offered you anything in terms of ongoing romance or commitment.

There is nothing inescapable about deciding to get sexually involved. Having sex is never inevitable, whether you’re drunk or sober, though alcohol can be blamed for blurring our judgment. Making one single bad choice, fuelled by passion, in hope of something further developing, or a combination of both, is surely less shameful than making the same “mistake” on a regular basis.

There’s quite a bit of mythologising around what people say when they’re drunk. Alcohol doesn’t make you braver, more honest or more intuitive – it makes you moronic and liable to say and do things you regret. I sometimes wish we Brits could see ourselves through the eyes of less booze-dependent cultures. Far from admiring our ability to open our hearts after a vat of vodka, they pity us the emotional reserve that makes inebriation an essential precursor to communication. My personal mantra is to believe nothing I’m told by a drunk and attempt not to make important decisions when my own faculties are booze-soaked. By all means, adopt it as your own.

Now then, that’s enough about you – what about him? All hail the return of the commitment-phobic. He’s a perfect case study. You want me to tell you that he’s harbouring passionate feelings for you, but is too shy, reclusive or overcome by passion to share his innermost thoughts. I’m sorry to say he’s no latterday Mr Darcy. This man is occupied with pleasing himself and you’ve inconveniently abandoned him, leaving a vacancy in his diary for weekend pleasure. A commitment-phobic can’t stand you walking away just as much as they find expectant proximity unbearable. Asking you when you’re returning while promising nothing is hardly a tantalising offer.

Think hard about what this man has to give and stop wasting time analysing what he’s asking of you. He wants what he wants, and right now you’re it. My answer would be to reject his calls, move on emotionally as well as physically, and put plenty of distance between you.

My friend Helen Fielding coined the term “fuckwittage” for the mental manipulation practised by such specimens when she documented the exploits of singleton Bridget Jones. It’s a word that directly describes the damage they can do to a girl’s brain. There’s much further wisdom for singletons still contained in those pages for those who look between the lines. Maybe you should pick up a copy. You’ll find that scenarios like your recent tryst loom large, so let’s hope you’ll be ready to laugh about it by then.

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