How do you decide when to let your friend leave the party with that guy?

So you’re out partying with your girlfriend, and a cute guy invites her back to his place.  She’s getting ready to take off with him, but she’s had a lot to drink and you’re not so sure this is a good idea.  Do you:

  1. Try to persuade her not to go by telling her she’ll regret it in the morning?
  2. Tell her to have fun and call you tomorrow?
  3. Make sure she gets home safely?

Well the good news is that according to a recent study published in Communication Education, approximately 80% of college students would choose option “3” and not let their intoxicated female friend go home with a male acquaintance.  The goal of the study was to figure out how they made that decision and what they would do to back it up.  Here’s what they found out:

Relationships are more important to you than health risks

All kinds of bad things can happen to people when they get drunk and hook up – sexual abuse, unsafe sex, and decreased self-esteem among others – but those weren’t as big a deal to the students who were polled as the relationships between the people involved.  They were more willing to let their friend go home with the guy if they or their friend knew him. 

You’re not afraid to use shame, deceipt or even confrontation to help out a friend

Some students would tell their friend what going home with the guy could do to her reputation.  Others would simply try to trick her into leaving with them by telling her they were taking her to the guy’s house but take her home instead.  Many would even confront their friend directly to keep her from making a mistake, even if it meant physically dragging her out of there.

So what’s the take home message? 

The good news is that most of you would do whatever it takes to keep your friends safe.  The bad news is that you might let your guard down a little if you feel like you “know” the guy.  Bottom line – if you think your friend is making a dangerous decision when she (or he) isn’t thinking clearly, don’t hesitate to step in no matter who is involved.  That’s what friends are for, right?

Cheryl Czapla, Med IV
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University