Relationship Advice

Under the Influence

woman with man on couch

I'm hoping you can help me discover the moral answer to a dilemma I recently encountered. I know I am not the only woman who has and will face this question, so I do hope you will print an answer.

I recently met a very nice man (I thought) who lives about 40 miles away. We had a very nice date and he was a perfect gentleman. I eagerly accepted a second date with him in my locale. We had drinks, and he drank more than he should have, which is where my question comes in.

As we drew the evening to a close he asked if he could hang at my house for awhile so he wouldn't drive 40 miles under the influence. I did not like this because I'm used to guys using this ploy to try to become intimate, and because people should be responsible and not drink too much when they need to drive.

If I said no, that meant I could be putting him on the road to, at best, get a DWI and, at worst, kill someone. (I don't know how intoxicated he was; he seemed fine to me.) Against my better judgment, I allowed him to come into my home, where he almost immediately set on the path to become intimate with me.

When I tried to send him home, he said he still was in no position to drive. I allowed him to stay and kicked him out in the early a.m. I'm still angry because I had laid out my boundaries very clearly. I didn't want him in my house, and I did not want to be intimate. But he obviously cared little about my feelings.

In the future, what are my moral obligations in this situation? Do I tell him to drive home, make him sleep in his car (which means he'll drive home), or allow him to sleep on my couch (which puts my safety in danger and simply isn't what I want)?


Jill, Gavin de Becker once remarked, "The best cons make the victim want to participate," and that explains this situation. This man tried to use your own niceness and sense of responsibility against you.

de Becker calls the strategy "forced teaming." In forced teaming one party tries to create a predicament which requires both parties to solve. The goal is to make the innocent party feel "we are in this together." But that is never the case. Moral responsibility is not assignable.

Someone who says, "Stop me or I'll do something bad" produces no moral obligation in you. It is simply the strategy of a person running a con. If there is a moral lesson here which applies to you, it is this. It is not right to allow a person to trick you and get away with it.

Instead of getting you drunk so he could take advantage of you, he got himself drunk, or so he said, so he could take advantage of you. That may be a reversal of an old ploy, but the intent is identical. In relationships, people with bad intentions often pull good people off their path.

If this man had achieved intimacy with you, you might be tempted to think of this as a relationship and him as a possible husband. That would have you living in his world.

But even if we assume he didn't scheme this out and simply has a problem with alcohol, it doesn't put him in a better light. Dating a budding alcoholic is of no advantage to you. It still makes him a man you don't want. We don't have the right to change others and seldom do we have the power.

Wayne & Tamara