When Should You React?


Today I’m going to talk about a situation in which I, and others, were tested with the opportunity to react or not react. This experience involved an extremely aggressive, drunk guy who was literally trapping some girls by being overly pushy at a bar.

At the beginning of the night, my friends and I were simply hanging out and drinking at a Mexican restaurant. As expected, after eating some Mexican food, we decided to call it a night. Most of the group left and it was just two of my friends and I on our way back. One of them got hit up by two girls to meet them and their guy friend at this bar. So we head to the bar, grab some drinks, and start dancing with these girls and their “friend.”

From the beginning, it became quickly apparent that this guy friend was being overly aggressive and drunk. He was dancing in a way that would literally trap the girls in a corner while he tried to grind on top of them. The girls would turn to my friends and I multiple times and say things like “help me” in a half-joking half-serious way. Or they would say “here, let me stand in between you and this guy.” But no matter what they did, the guy would move people out of the way in order to get to them.

After about an hour, we called an Uber to take us to another bar. Once arriving there, we almost instantly didn’t like the vibe, and while this guy was in the bathroom, the girls started saying that we should ditch him and leave because of how uncomfortable it was. So, although it wasn’t a good move, and I won’t try to justify it, we ditched him in order to get away.

As we are walking to the next bar, we start hearing loud shouts. This guy starts sprinting down the side walk, yelling at these girls. This dude straight up hops over a fence in order to get to us. Once he catches up, he starts getting in these girls faces and shouting angrily. We all kinda just tell him to calm down and keep walking to the next bar. Keep in mind, it is very difficult to reason with an excessively drunk person.

Once we get there, the creepy guy heads to the bar to grab a drink alone. The rest of us all go to the dance floor for a while and then he finds us. I’m dancing in a circle with my friends and these girls, doing nothing in particular. But I guess, for some reason, this guy started targeting me because he was intimidated or something along those lines. The girls were kind of gravitating towards me and I think that pissed him off so he came up and physically shoved me out of the way so he could get closer to these girls.

So, I had a decision. Am I going to react or not react? There are a couple of things that went through my head. First, I wasn’t personally offended because I don’t care about this guy and he was extremely drunk. Obviously, when people are drunk, they aren’t very rational. Second, even if I had been personally offended, aggression is not a good idea because it would only escalate the situation to something even more harmful, especially when you are drunk and can’t reason adequately. So, I decided not to react. Reacting would have reflected insecurity on my part and inflicted more harm. If we were going to handle the situation and stop this aggression, there are more effective ways that I will mention.

The practice of being nonreactive is beneficial in multiple areas of life, showing your security and confidence as a person by not feeling personally offended by everything thrown at you. Also, it can enhance your ability to handle and deescalate situations that are or aren’t in your control. Take the iconic James Bond for example, he rarely ever freaks out when approached by what many would consider an intimidating situation, but he does react in necessary times that involve life-threatening danger.

So the girls go to the bathroom to get away from this guy, and I start talking to my two friends on the dance floor about how this dude shoved me and it’s getting really uncomfortable for everyone. As I was telling them that reacting is not a good idea, the drunk guy could tell I was talking about him, so walks up to me. By the way, this is perfect to give you a sense of how delusional he was at the time. He said to me “it’s nothing personal dude, it’s just these girls keep complaining that you are a creepy old guy trying to hit on them.” Keep in mind, I’m 22 and a senior in college. Everyone in this group is 22 and a senior in college, except one of my friends is 23 and working. And I hadn’t even made a move on these girls.

After he said this, I simply just smiled cause there was no chance of me being offended or insecure by his actions at this point. However, my more reactive friend was pretty fed up and was looking for an excuse to get this get out of the bar. So, he says, “wait what did you say?” and when the drunk guy repeated himself, my friend said, “that’s not ok” and grabbed this guy by the collar. They have a standoff in the middle of the dance floor but aren’t throwing any punches. They are holding each other aggressively, sort of like a hockey face off trying to throw one another down. I look down and see the drunk guy holding a beer bottle and it looks like he was about to smack my friend in the head with it, so this was the time to react. I became defensive for my friend and grabbed the bottle and pushed the drunk guy, so he was out of range. Finally, security came to grab the drunk guy and throw him out of the bar.

I don’t blame my friend for being reactive, he wanted this annoying, aggressive guy gone because he was ruining the night making everyone, especially the girls, uncomfortable. Also, I’m sure he felt very defensive when seeing that I was being targeted, just as I got defensive when he started fighting. However, it doesn’t always work out this way. Someone could have gotten dangerously hurt. The beer bottle could have smashed into my friend’s head and caused serious damage. Or we all could have gotten thrown out of the bar instead of just the drunk guy. Or someone else could have gotten hurt on the dance floor. So, what would have been the best approach?

Well, the girls got back from the bathroom and we told them what happened. They were very happy he was gone so that we could enjoy the night. However, as the night kept going, I noticed that these girls were making fun of the situation and using it as entertainment. The drunk guy kept texting them and they were responding with lies and laughing because they thought it was funny to mess with him.

Apparently this guy was acting even worse the weekend before, but the girls still invited him out this time. It became clear to me that they were actively enabling the situation for entertainment and attention. So, the best reaction wasn’t for my friends and I to get physically involved, but for these girls to stop enabling the situation so that the night doesn’t happen this way at all. I can understand how girls like to have fun and may get pleasure out of using someone this way, but it’s dangerous and manipulative, especially when directed toward the wrong person. It’s fun until the creepy guy really starts to get creepy and you are in a situation that quickly becomes threatening.

Take from this what you will, I just wanted to share my experience where a group of people were tested with reactivity. I’m really not sure what would have happened if my friend didn’t get the guy thrown out of the bar… just like I’m not sure how badly the situation could have turned out once my friend took it to the physical level. Obviously if the drunk guy’s aggressiveness with these women and others escalated to a serious degree, a physical intervention would be completely necessary. However, that line can be hard to draw and I’m glad I chose to be non-reactive until my friend was in serious danger. Now, the line that isn’t hard to draw is how these girls were knowingly enabling this drunk guy to act this way by leading him on for their own enjoyment. I learned that being aware of when you should react and how you enable others is important.

The next day, I actually felt really down. It was bad. Not because my night was ruined, but because I became so upset and disappointed with the behavior. I can think of many situations in which girls have done the same thing and unfortunately, it was too late before they regretted it. I can think of many situations in which a physical altercation causes a lot of harm to everyone around. And I can think of situations in which people get too drunk or so misplaced in their ways that their degree of aggressiveness or sexually assaulting nature grows.

It’s unfortunate, but instead of simply judging others for their mistakes, we can think of effective measures that guide ourselves and others toward positivity.