You’re jolted awake by the sound of your blaring alarm, reverberating straight from your nightstand and into your subconscious. You roll over, shut off the noise, and feel the familiar pain in your head of a throbbing hangover. As you open your phone to check the photos from last night, you realize with horror that you fired off a message to your ex, of all people. “What does this mean?,” you wonder anxiously. “If I drunk text my ex, do I still love them?”
In the midst of an alcohol-fueled night, almost everyone has sent a text that they regret. Your inhibitions were lowered, and at the time, it seemed like a perfectly rational idea to reach out to a person you used to date. In the morning, this no longer seems like such a clever plan — and discovering the text immediately fills you with panic. You thought you had moved on from your ex, but now you’re concerned that maybe you have lingering feelings for them.
Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach and podcast host of Thank You Heartbreak, tells Elite Daily exactly what that drunk text might mean. Spoiler alert: it’s probably not as bad as you think. “Drunk texting your ex could mean you’re still in love with them, but it could also mean a myriad of other things that have more to do with fear than love,” she explains. Consider the scenario you were in last night. Were you out with a bunch of happily coupled-up friends, talking about how close they were to getting engaged? “Drunk texting your ex after this evening now may be motivated by the fear of never finding the one, and not actually the belief that your ex really is the one,” Trescott says.
Similarly, if your family is constantly asking why you’re single, you might get stressed about fulfilling their expectations of you. In that case, it’s easy to understand why contacting your ex would feel safe and familiar. “When our inhibitions are lowered due to alcohol, our resulting behavior is more heavily influenced by the immediate context and circumstance we are in than any careful and conscious revelation about our ex,” Trescott says. Your brain is only focused on the here and now, and something triggered a memory of your ex that made you want to reach out to them.
I know what you’re thinking. “But what about the saying, ‘Drunk words are sober thoughts’?” Trescott says there’s no real truth to this idea. “They’re unprocessed thoughts to be challenged,” she says instead. “When we’re communicating drunk, we’re anxiously attempting to satisfy selfish needs or to extinguish sober fears and lingering wounds.” When you’re drunk, you’re more likely to say things that you wouldn’t say sober, but that doesn’t mean those drunk words are true. “While alcohol may lower our inhibitions [and] cause us to be less guarded, that’s not nearly the same thing as becoming more genuine,” Trescott says. “What might come out [instead] are exaggerated confessions fueled by temporary emotions and momentary urges. That drunk text is more an indication of your hopeless romanticism than your deep-seated love.”
For whatever reason, you were reminded of your past relationship, so you decided on a drunken whim to contact your ex. It doesn’t have to mean anything more. Now, if you’re trying to figure out a way out of this situation, Trescott has a plan for you. “The best way to address a drunk text with your ex the next day is with a follow-up text that takes accountability for your altered state,” she suggests. “That text might sound like, ‘I’m sorry if last night’s text seemed to come out of the blue. It’s obvious to me now that I have some unresolved feelings that have less to do with you and more to do with me. If you can, please take those drunken texts with a grain of salt. In the future, I’ll do better when I’m under the influence. ;)" This text keeps it lighthearted and downplays any potential awkwardness.
Sure, this situation might be a little embarrassing, but it need not be the cause for major stress. Mistakes like this happen to everyone, and if you laugh it off and own up to it, you’ll show off your confidence. The next time you’re out drinking with your squad, maybe have them intercept your phone before you send that 2 a.m. message. That's what good pals are for.