Dear Thought Pharmacy,
I have a confession: I send drunk texts.
The combination of me really liking someone, alcohol and my phone seems to trigger real anxiety and highlights how insecure I am. I think this might be due to my previous dating experiences and the fact that I'm 24 years old and I have been single for most of it. It's a vicious cycle and I feel very self destructive when it happens. I wake up full of shame and it doesn't matter if I say sorry, it's too late because I've already been classed as a crazy desperate single woman by this stage. The texts are never that bad nor do I send multiple texts but they're embarrassing.
Recently I haven't sent any messages but then I met a guy who I briefly dated and genuinely liked however I ruined it. Had it not been for the fact that I had drunk text him three nights in a row (yes, really), I think we would still be dating. This is the second time I have ruined things in such a fashion with a guy I genuinely liked.
I act as if I'm okay about what has recently happened but I am still full of shame. A friend recently commented that I'm emotionless and I make it hard for guys to read me which made me feel worse. I know it's too late to rectify the situation with the guy I recently dated but how can I stop doing this again? Why do I seem to feel so insecure about myself and relationships when I've had a drink? Is it highlighting the fact that deep down I genuinely think that I will never meet someone who wants to be with me? On the outside I'm a confident and outgoing person but on the inside I'm full of shame and a genuine fear that I will remain single forever.
Drunk texter, London
Dear Drunk Texter,
I don't think there's a single reader who will not identify with your problem. We've all been there. Senses kicked into action by the horror of "OH GAWD WHAT DID I DO" stinging through the hung-over gloam.
But let's get real. You hit the nail on the head towards the end of your letter when you said " deep down I genuinely think that I will never meet someone who wants to be with me". This is what is triggering this. I don't think this is really about the drunk texting. I think you're just absolutely fatigued by being single and absolutely bored by the men you're meeting. And sweet girl, that's an agony so many can identify with. Bright souls like you don't belong in the fripperies of courtship that now come as standard in the Tinder-standard landscape that is dating in 2015. Can I tell you a hard truth my darling? You are 24 tiny years old. Do not give me this "I'm still single I am destined to be a lonely spinster" act. You're not Anne bloody Hathaway (the first one) or a sister wife (thank god). The hard truth of the matter is that there's an atrocious lack of men out there. Atrociously unprepared for the kind of woman you are (ESPECIALLY in your age bracket- side note, please only go out with men who are 30 plus at this point). You gotta kiss so many frogs, kiddo. So many. Kiss them all, with wild abandon, with abject boredom, with unashamed lack of interest but hot and heavy desire. Throw yourself in to that motley pond, lips at the ready. Carry lip balm.
I want so much for you to stop feeling the heavy curtain that is shame. You're not a "crazy desperate single woman" for sending drunk texts, which, by your own admission, 'are not that bad'. Good grief, the whole world is, if that's the case. Don't torture yourself so much, because, here's the thing, the gloriously simple truth is that if you really properly like someone, and they really properly like you, it doesn't matter how many drunk or sober texts you send, you still like them. And they still like you! By no means do a few merlot-infused messages mean that somehow you have busted a potential romance, via a fistful of emojis, right there and then, poof, whizz, wallop. At best, I think the objects of your desire will be intensely flattered and probably amused. At worst, if they like you and are worthy of you, they might think you like a drink a little too much and be a bit unsure as to where to go next from there, communication wise. And do you know what the solution is then? If you really really like someone? You take control, and you send this: "Hi. It does not take a genius to work out that I had one too many last night, and you were the lucky recipient. Prosecco makes me amorous. I am duly a bit mortified, but I'm hoping I can make it up to you via the wonder that is steak and bearnaise sauce. My place, Wednesday, 8pm. " The best outcome then is for him to turn up at your house, prosecco in hand (because that's a helpful hint any fool could read) at which point you dazzle him with your cooking skills, general sweetness, and then either send him off or in to the night with a true sense of who you are. The worst he can say is no. At which point you know what's up and you move on. And you don't take it personally.It's still kindof a wonder to me that we all walk around talking about the pay gap and how much we think Miley is actually a feminist and Kim K definitely isn't and seriously screw Donald Trump and his henchmen in the patriarchy but yet when we fuck up a bit with men we still act all coy and expect to be scooped up and for things to be made better for us or retreat into a pit of self loathing. You're not a silly little girl, you're a grown ass lady. Don't play by those stupid and outdated rules. That means that when you like someone, you have to tell them. You understand this innately, via your drunk texts, but you're so freaked out and scared and bored and disillusioned by it all in the cold light of day that you can't say it unless you're wasted. Then you feel filled with self hate and sadness once the fog of sobriety sets in. Stop this cycle. Forgive and treasure your romantic and soulful nature, a great gift that men absolutely love, and that the ultimate one-true-love-man-for-you will fall utterly hard for. As soon as you feel actually comfortable with a guy, you and I both know that the drunk texts will stop. Take some responsibility for getting yourself to that comfortable place, bb. You can do it!
Of course, on a practical note, I wish I could tell you to simply leave your phone at home when you go out, but I know London well enough to understand that being phone-less isn't really possible when you're trying to locate your friends in the club via a dropped pin or readying your 999 emergency call five minutes into the Sodom and Gomorrah that is the night bus. Having said that, I would urge you, if it's just an easy dinner with your mates or whatever, to absolutely leave it safely tucked away in your bed (I encourage leaving your phone, pocket tyrant that it is, at home as much as possible anyway-nothing sadder than blowing out your birthday candles to an audience of 20 glowing screens). Here's also a hard and fast practical piece of advice if you're planning a big night out. Write down your amor's number on a piece of paper. Give it to your best friend. Delete the number from your phone. Go out. Ask her for the number again when you're sober. Then, at the end of your night, dodgy pizza slice in hand, with your bloodstream pumping vodka and your liver crying out for mercy, message the hell out of your friends and family instead, because I'm telling you, they will absolutely lap up the drunk text. I know this from personal experience. My little brother, a giant lacrosse-playing lad not prone to sober outbursts of emotion, is a fantastic drunk texter, and honestly waking up to his beer-soaked messages brings me maximum joy- "I LOV YOU KINGY" "YOU ARE MY FAVRITEE SISTER" (I am his only sister) and so forth. Love it. Bloody love it.
Above all, Drunk Texter, a reminder that in two or five or ten years time, when you're all coupled up with some hotty who is obsessed with your romantic and brooding nature and you've decided on the names of your future babies and are attending ten weddings per summer, you'll actually kindof miss this time. You'll feel a pang of nostalgia for the walk of shame you did along High Holborn with rips in your tights and no knickers on and excellent bed head. The anxiety of "he did three kisses in his message last time but now only one, oh my god what does this MEAN," will feel like a sweet sweet angst and I know you'll laugh like mad about it during long and luxurious and super old-school phone conversations with your girlfriends. You'll also feel profoundly grateful for meeting the one you love. That's when, I hope, in a still moment, you'll get out your paper and your pen, and you'll write him a letter, a proper one. One as slow and sweet as molasses. All those texts, are just micro versions of that, I think, little love letters, snapping at our phones, pulling us together and apart. Which leads me neatly to your prescription.
YOUR SONG: Love Letters by Julie London
Here's the thing, Drunk Texter. I want you to forgive the wonderful romantic creature that is you. You're so tough on yourself in your letter, seeing your texting as something to be deeply ashamed of, the source of your perceived lack of success in relationships. I don't see it that way at all. I think you're a hopeless romantic who's completely and utterly disillusioned by dating in London and the feeling that you're never going to meet anyone that's right for you. You join a cast of literally millions in that sentiment. Though when you send your intoxi-texts you can come across as a saucy little sex pot, it's all just a glimpse of the fact that inside you're as soft and lovely and mercurial as a wondering cloud formation. Your 'friend' (inverted commas, placed for emphasis) who described you as 'emotionless' has got you all wrong, only seeing the surface waters of who you are, not the wild tides beneath. I'd really like you to reframe your idea of these "drunk texts" and instead see them as proper love letters, in their own right. I think if you had been born in the 19th century you'd have been a great love letter writer, Drunk Texter, a whizz with a feathered quill and a melty candle, the Fanny Brawne to a million Keats-a-likes. Tragically, you were born in the wrong era, where most people hardly bother with a postcard and a phone call means that something is desperately wrong (though your beloved is unlikely to die of tuberculosis, so every cloud, etc). You opt to send text message postcards from your heart after one vodka too many because you're frustrated as all hell. It's totally understandable, totally forgivable and (YES!) totally sweet. What I'm trying to say, dearest DT, is that you're cute as all hell with your drunk texts, and I'm rather in love with you myself. Stop with the angst. It's totally okay.
YOUR ACTIVITY: Go on a date with you and your boy, London
Forgive me for speaking the blinding bloody obvious here, darling, but don't you think you might need some days and nights in for a while? Just so you can rest and figure this one out. I'm not saying enforce a full and drastic year-long or life-long sobriety, but when you're in your early 20s like you are, and probably drinking pretty much every weekend, it's just a good idea now and again. There's also, in your letter, just the smallest, teeniest whiff of you drowning your sorrows in booze a little, and I do not like that one bit. It's meant to be fun, not a band aid, and the minute it changes to the latter you need to reassess why you're doing it and take stock of that a little (only you can know where you are there). Either way, I'm prescribing you a totally sober weekend, where you wake up at 8am blissfully awake and ready to go, feeling free and alive, with no one to text and nothing to do but fall head over heels for the beautiful and brutal and breathtaking ancient wonder that is the city of London. Sip coffee at your local greasy spoon with the old ladies up at that hour. Feel the wind on your face as you pound familiar pavement. Buy yourself a bunch of flowers (there comes a point in a girl's life when she has to buy her own- start as you mean to go on). Stockpile stamps while the post office is empty. Take a bus to Soho and walk through Liberty stroking expensive and beautiful things. Splurge a fiver on some fancy soap that makes you smell like an aged Italian Contessa. Walk over Tower Bridge, wink at those sexy Brazilian dudes doing capoeira and and throw a coin into the water for luck. Feel dwarfed by the Cy Twomblys at the Tate Modern. Walk the long way home and think of all the girls like you who, in turn, corseted and mini skirted and spiky-haired, have wandered and wondered on that same bridge through the decades, thinking those same thoughts of who they'll meet and when they'll feel at home in themselves. Go home. Scrub yourself shiny in the bath with your new soap. Stick your blooms in a jam jar. Drink some top-notch tea. Order in. Listen to music. Read an engrossing book. Watch classic movies. In short. LOVE ON YOURSELF. You deserve it and your city deserves the cute flaneuse that is you for the day.
YOUR MOVIE: An American In Paris
Speaking of falling in love with cities, behold, the most romantic film ever made. What better antidote for you when those nights out feel like nothing but a colossal waste of good make up, and you need pulling back swiftly into the romantic world that you belong in. I mean, lines like this:
"What gets me is, I don't know anything about her. We manage to be together for a few moments and then off she goes. Sometimes we have a wonderful time together and other times it's no fun at all. But I got to be with her."
Need I say more. Turn off the phone. Sit on the sofa. Save your pennies and get drunk offa Gene Kelly's perfect turn out instead.
YOUR BOOK: The Wrong Knickers, Bryony Gordon
Dearest girl, if ever there was a book for you at this moment in your life, it is this one, which I happened to be fortuitously reading (super late, as it took me forever to get a copy in America) when you sent me your letter. Bryony, who is just a stunningly good and honest and hilarious writer, truly tells it like it is. I underlined the following passage, which I have dutifully typed out here, for you.
"I know women who stick to the rules and tell blokes they are busy so they seem more alluring, when in actual fact they are staying in to watch Made In Chelsea. But I am not one of them. It seems so phoney, so archaic. The Rules seem unjust and unfair, and abiding by them strikes me as a betrayal of the sisterhood. 'I'm not going to play games', I tell my mother, because I am a woman with my own mind and any man who goes off me because I have texted twice in an hour can go fuck himself."
Can I get a hell yeah? And where is Bryony now? Career thriving, married to a great man, cute baby in tow. It just works out.
YOUR POEM: Bloody Men, Wendy Cope
To make you laugh. And make you sigh. And know that you're not alone.
Wendy nails it, here, doesn't she? The minutes, the hours, the days. I remember it. Being in your 20s can feel so incredibly long and uncertain, especially when it comes to the more romantically inclined. As women we're still given, in various ways, our whole lives, the narrative that someday our prince will come, if only we play hard to get, or text a certain amount of times or play things a certain way or go to a certain type of place. All of these are variations of the same theme, Drunk Texter. That's the girl, shut in the castle, waiting far too long for some dimwit in chain mail to rescue her. You don't need to be rescued because you can do this your way. To thine own self be true. Get the hell out of the turret and strike out on your own. Trust your instincts. Forgive yourself heartily and know that you have so much love to give. Proclaim it out loud, sober as the day you were born or as drunk as Keith Richards was by the end of 1975. It doesn't matter. Have faith. Marvel, when, one apparently normal day, you fall head over heels crazy in love and your entire world changes in both a wonderful and terrifying and still not easy but ultimately what you needed way. Send me a note five years from now. It can be a drunk text, but, and this is an absolute condition, only if induced via very good champagne. I know it will say, "YOU WERE RIGHT! xoxoxoxox".
Would you like a prescription from the Thought Pharmacy? Simply email your problem to firstname.lastname@example.org