Is Being Drunk an Excuse for Cheating?

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By Nicole Martin > Sophomore > Journalism and Sociology > Penn State University; Photo by AR > Sophomore > Graphic Design > UMBC
I’ll be first to admit it: we all perform regrettable actions when we’re drunk. With inhibition at a low, do students in relationships take advantage of that trend? College Magazine asked students and experts to weigh in on the age-old question, seeking insight on whether intoxication an excuse for unfaithful behavior.



The dictionary defines flirting as “behave[ing] amorously without serious intent.” In most cases, your flirtation is sending out signals to see how the other person reacts to you. It may just be to boost your ego, to make you laugh, or to stimulate interests. While all good and fun, flirting can stir up enough jealously and resentment issues in relationships as is. Add alcohol to the mix, and we’re approaching the line not to be crossed.
 “The challenges begin when agreements are violated and/or the flirting becomes unwelcome attention,” said Susie and Otto Collins, life success coaches and authors of Creating Relationship Trust.
When you’re drinking, flirting may become a natural instinct, causing you to be completely unaware you’re even doing it. Set boundaries with your partner and try to be conscious of your actions – buying or accepting drinks from others or giving out your phone number are often fight-starting occurrences in college couples.
“In my opinion, I think you should be loyal to your significant other and don’t accept drinks from someone who is trying to butter you up and get you drunk,” said Brett Magid, a student at Pennsylvania State University. “I don’t think it is a big deal to give out or accept a phone number, it is what you do with that number that makes it an issue.”

Becoming a Dancing Queen

Dancing and alcohol seem to go hand in hand, but is it acceptable to dance with someone else when you’re in a relationship?
“Drunk dancing means nothing as long as you stick to the rules and don’t cheat. There is nothing wrong with it,” said Magid.

Duquesne University student Alison Rutter said there are limits: “I don’t mind … to a certain degree. If by chance my boyfriend is practically bending a girl over on the dance floor, they might as well take it to the bedroom.”

…and the big one: Cheating
Does being intoxicated – supposedly not knowing what you’re doing – legitimize cheating?
Rutter doesn’t think so. “If you have the sense to cheat when you’re drunk, then it must be in the back of your mind,” she said. “Alcohol is liquid confidence … to do something you’re too afraid to sober.”
Founder of Stephany Alexander said it depends on the amount of alcohol one has had, as excessive amounts can blur personal ethics and values. Enough intoxication, she said, pushes the body to respond only to personal pleasures and desires.
“It's true; alcohol makes people selfish,” she said. “After a heavy night of drinking, the drinker becomes sober and has to deal with the consequences of their addiction. It is hard to face yourself or your partner after a night of sexual promiscuity.”

Magid said that if someone drunkenly cheated on him, he’d want to hear their side of the story before jumping to conclusions. “Some people are aware of what they are doing and some people aren't … but inevitably you can’t be with someone who does that to you, he said.
The consensus seems to be that cheating while under the influence is situational – it depends on the setting, the relationship, and blood alcohol content. So is intoxication an acceptable excuse? Perhaps that’s exactly what it is – an excuse – not a real reason.

“If they can't handle their alcohol and be respectful to you, then they’re not someone you should want to be with,” Magid asserted.



College Magazine Staff

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