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The Psychology Behind Drunk Texting: Why Do We Do It?

We’ve all been there. You’re finally feeling good about your breakup and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. So good, in fact, you decide to head out and have a few drinks with friends. 

As the night continues, you have a few more, and suddenly, the “I miss you” texts (or worse) start flowing. 

Drunk texting is a phenomenon that spares no one. Whether you’ve done it yourself or been victim to it, it leaves us confused and embarrassed in the morning. 

So, what’s the psychology behind drunk texting? Are drunk texts truly sober thoughts? How do you come back from a night of drunk texting? Let’s talk about it. 

Why Do We Drunk Text?

Alcohol primarily affects areas of the brain associated with behavior regulation – big surprise there, right?

This impairment in judgment makes people much more prone to sending that risky text they normally wouldn’t sober.

A sober brain helps weigh the good and bad consequences of any decision. However, add a few vodka cranberries, and suddenly the angel/devil on your shoulder is mute. 

As we add more drinks, we lose our ability to realistically weigh the weight of our decisions.

Drunk you” may think to yourself it’s completely appropriate to tell your boss off when he texts you asking you to cover a shift the next day; however, sober you really wouldn’t want to lose your job. 

There are a few main reasons we reach for our phones when we’re feeling buzzed, including:

  • To entertain themselves or someone else 
  • Because we feel more confident and less accountable for our actions 
  • We feel the intense urge to confess our emotions 
  • To set up a sexual encounter 
An embarrassed woman stars at four pints of beer and a text message. The title reads The Psychology Behind Drunk Texting
The psychology behind drunk texting

Do Drunk Texts Hold Any Meaning?

Drunk words are sober thoughts. We’ve all heard this phrase a million times, but is it true?

The question, “Do drunk texts mean anything?” is by no means easy to conquer. There’s a lot to unpack, especially if you drunk text an ex. 

As people drink, they loosen up their inhibitions, leading them to say whatever pops into their head without thinking twice. While it’s not always the case, drunk words can be sober thoughts that an individual has deeply repressed. 

Whether you’re the one sending love letters to your ex or you’re on the receiving end of it, drunk texting is bound to leave you feeling guilt and shame the next day. 

There are a few meanings behind drunk texts:

  • They’re thinking of you 
  • Something reminded them of you 
  • They feel intimidated by you and can’t talk to you sober
  • It was a mistake 
  • They have a bad habit of drunk texting 

No matter the scenario, drunk texts aren’t a magical way to tell if someone likes you or misses you.

It all depends on the person and your relationship status when they drunk text you (or you drunk text them).

Sending Drunk Texts:

So, what happens when we’re the culprit of a drunk texting episode? 

This may not be what you want to hear, but if you are a chronic drunk texter – especially in the case of an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend it’s likely that you lack adequate emotional regulation skills.

Hear me out. 

If, while sober, you have difficulty communicating the way you’re feeling, or you don’t know how to manage intense feelings without booze, it’s more likely you will act upon this once your inhibition is lowered. 

So, the ex that broke your heart or the new bartender at work that has caught your eye now becomes the ‘victim’ of this newfound confidence. 

Is it truly the way you feel?

It’s impossible to say, as every person’s situation is unique, but many people can argue drunk texts hold some weight. It’s the delivery that remains less than ideal.

Woman sits on couch sending a text message. The title reads What it means when you send drunk texts.
What it means when you send drunk texts

Related Post: Why Do I Get Angry At My Boyfriend When I Drink?

Receiving Drunk Texts:

You wake up in the morning after a peaceful night’s sleep to find your phone riddled with 9 text messages from your ex. Do they mean anything?

Even if they hit you up the next day swearing up and down it was the alcohol talking, it’s unlikely to settle your mind as you reread the 14 paragraphs they sent at bar close. 

So, what does it mean if your ex reaches out to you while drunk? There are a few underlying motives to unpack. Let’s take a look:

  • Ego Boost: If your ex reaches out to you while drunk, they may be looking for validation or a stroke to their confidence if they haven’t found it from anyone else yet. 
  • Unfinished Business: Did you and your ex end on abrupt terms? If your ex is messaging you late at night after a few beers, it’s likely there is unfinished business still bothering them. 
  • Sexual Motives: This one is the clearest to see. If they’re texting you after a night out with the goal of sex in mind, you’ll know fairly quickly. 

While these aren’t always the cases, it’s often common that their drunk text falls into one of these categories.

Whether you desperately want their drunk texts to be their true feelings, or you desperately don’t always take drunk words with a grain of salt. 

More>> 7 Types of Drunks: What You Drunk Personality Reveals About You

How Do I Stop Drunk Texting?

If you’re a serial drunk texter, don’t worry. There are many options to help you, as drunk texting is far more common than you’d think. 

A hand holds a phone to text. There is a liquor bottle with a red X slashed through. The title reads How do I stop  drunk texting? The URL reads soberish.co
How do I stop drunk texting?

1. Take Inventory Of Your Hit List:

Were you stood up on a date earlier in the evening? Did you just get out of a nasty breakup?

Think about all the potential people you may send a thread of embarrassing novels to later in the evening.

Take some time before going out to acknowledge these emotions before you decide to give in after a few tequila shots.

Make a note on your phone to deal with them later when you’re sober. 

2. Try New Places:

If you’re going back to the same bar you and your ex used to spend Sunday NFL games at, of course, you will be triggered after the drinks hit.

You’ll look around and imagine you and him (or her) pounding back a few Busch Lights and feel it’s an appropriate time to remind him that you miss him.

Try new places to avoid those memories coming up in the first place. 

3. Use Accountability:

Sometimes we can just feel the urge to text an ex before we even go out.

There are nights we just have a gut feeling it’s going to happen. Use friends as accountability.

Tell them that you’re feeling this way and you need help.

Oftentimes friends are far more ruthless than you are when it comes to an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and are more than happy to help you stay away from them. 

4. Utilize Drunk Texting Apps:

Ahh, what a time to be alive. Instead of using manual willpower – which, let’s face it – doesn’t always happen when we’re drunk – there are apps specifically created for this situation!

Some apps will lock your phone entirely (besides emergency calls) from set hours of the night, or others will allow you to input a few phone numbers you’ll be unable to call or text while drunk.

Use this technology to your advantage!

5. Stop Getting Drunk

This is probably the most obvious solution to your drunk texting problem, but if you have a habit of drinking a lot and sending regrettable texts, take a break from alcohol.

It doesn’t mean you have some serious drinking problem, but sometimes there are seasons in our life when it’s best to stay away from alcohol.

If you are in a vulnerable, stressed, or otherwise emotionally fraught time in your life, it’s best to keep a clear mind so you can handle your stuff.

Try going sober for thirty days and see how you feel. If you feel like you can’t, you may have deeper issues. That’s okay, too.

There are a ton of support networks out there to help, and I’ve got an extensive library of resources to help you quit drinking if you ever need them.

How Do I Recover From a Night Of Drunk Texting?

What do you do after you just sent your ex a string of “I miss you” texts? How do you come back from it? CAN you come back from it?

Here are a few tips to help you overcome the guilt and shame that comes in the morning after a night of sending (and drinking) a few too many:

An embarrassed woman looks out from behind her hands at the camera. The title reads How do I recover from a night of drunk texting?
How do I recover from a night of drunk texting?

1. Apologize

While you certainly don’t have to, sometimes the only way to face an embarrassing situation is to take it head-on.

Everyone has drunk texted at some point in their life, so as long as the other person is willing to hear it, an apology should make things at least slightly better. 

2. Laugh

Life’s too short to do anything other than laugh about embarrassing situations. So you drunk texted an ex… who hasn’t.

Laugh about the way you spelled their name wrong or the way they didn’t even respond. Laughter is the best medicine, and you’ll be much happier if you can laugh at your mistakes every once in a while. 

3. Own It

Even if you have to fake it, confidence can be the best remedy when shame wants to run the show.

Guilt wants to make you feel bad about yourself, even if you had every intention of not drunk texting your ex.

We all make mistakes at times. Own what you did, even to the other person. At the end of the day, holding yourself accountable is the best avenue for change. 

4. Get Over It

Most drunk texts are nothing to get all up in your head over. (Notice I said, “most.” If text something epically terrible, that’s another story.)

A new day will begin, and life will continue on.

Of course, this all depends on the degree of what you said – however, no good ever comes from stressing and worrying about things you cannot change. It will only make you feel worse in the end. 

You don’t have to figure this out on your own.

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Final Thoughts on the Psychology Behind Drunk Texting:

In the end, drunk texting happens. The only way to curb drunk texting altogether is to cut booze out of your life.

Without alcohol, there will be no embarrassing texts at 2:30 as you suddenly remember you haven’t seen your ex in 6 months.

While it’s easier said than done to simply say get over it, the mental effects of drunk texting are very real. The guilt and shame you feel the next day can easily make you feel down about yourself and damage your self-esteem. 

Next time you go out, take precautions against drunk texting. While drunk texting may feel good at the moment, it’s rarely worth it.


A graphic of a drunk woman holding a glass of wine in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. She has a thought bubble with a text message and heart. The title reads The Psychology Behind Drunk Texting.
the psychology behind drunk texting PIN

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One Comment

  1. I went on a bender and drunk texted my female boss for 5 days whom Im not totally infatuated with. She filed an order of protection and fired me. So drunk texting can lead to many more irritable consequences for both parties concerned. Put the bottle down people! Loved your article!

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