The 4 Things Your Non-Drinking Friends Want You To Know
I’m 26 years old and I choose not to drink. So why do I feel I need to make excuses for it?
I’ve got an early start tomorrow.
I’m feeling a little under the weather.
I’m trying to save some cash.
I’m on antibiotics.
I’ve started a clean eating diet.
I’ve got a bet going.
“Why aren’t you drinking?” is the question that's plagued my social life since my late teens.
Traditionally, I’ve never been a big drinker. Sure, I enjoy the occasional day session, night out or red wine with dinner, but I’ve never felt the need to seek out a drink at every gathering.
The thing is, I’ve just never really loved drinking, nor have I looked forward to it.
Research shows 23 percent of Australians aged 14 and over don’t drink at all.
So I’m not alone.
But that also means there’s a strong chance more than three-quarters of my friendship group do, and societal norms make non-drinkers feel like we need to justify our decision.
Just one scan of the internet and you’ll find countless articles, research papers and documents offering excuses for non-drinkers to have in the back pocket when asked about their sobriety.
Yet there’s nothing to suggest perhaps we should just tell our friends the truth and accept the fact they may never understand, and that’s okay.
I’d often fall into this trap. I’d draw on non-existent health issues or throw in a mythical early-morning fitness class I’d “already booked and can’t get a refund for” when what I really wanted to tell them is: I don’t really like drinking.
It’s just that simple.
When I was in my teens, not sneaking a six-pack of UDL’s into a 16th birthday party was considered social madness.
At 18 I was the friend who would start sinking pints of water before anyone else.
At 21 I would happily take on designated driver duties.
At 23 I would bring bottles of Kombucha to parties rather than beer.
At 25 I’d order soda in a short glass with lime to mimic spirits or I’d fill an empty beer bottle with water.
Now, pushing 27, nothing has changed. Social situations where alcohol is involved are still a struggle. Almost every time I get asked “why?” I’m met with condescending responses like, “I don’t know how you do it” before I get a chance to respond.
READ MORE: Science Says There Are Four Types Of Drunks
And if I do drink, I’m sometimes still subject to narky observations such as “oh my goodness, you’re drinking!” or “finally, you’re loosening up”. Yes, sometimes I do drink and I’d appreciate if you didn’t make such a big deal about it.
Before I go on, let me make one thing clear. I’m not here to judge the people who choose to drink. You do you people.
But at what age can I finally stop making excuses for my (almost) sober existence? Will it creep into my 30s? Or even my 40s? Or will I keep copping this social scrutiny for the rest of my existence?
Here are some things us non-drinkers want our pro-drinking friends to know:
1. Despite popular belief. We aren’t boring. Nope, not even a little bit.
In fact, we’ve had to learn to be brilliantly interesting rather than rely on alcohol to do it for us. Not only can we attend social gatherings and have a good time (more on this later) without having to booze it up, we can actually hold a decent, interesting conversation totally sober.
2. You might not believe it but we’re actually having a good time.
Yes, we will survive the entire pub crawl sober. And no, we don’t need your haughty comments such as, “you can go home if you want to, I can’t imagine this is much fun for you.”
Despite the fact you might occasionally be spot on with that one, we’re probably having a great time and aren’t afraid to bust out some Elaine-style (Seinfeld anyone?) moves on the dancefloor without having to fill the tank with fermented grapes, yeast and potatoes.
3. And to all our close-talking drunken friends out there, you’re not annoying us.
You’re more annoying when you repeatedly ask if you’re being annoying, or worse, when you apologise for your intoxicated state.
But remember, there’s a fine line between being a manageable drunk and an obnoxious write-off. If you’re resembling the former, there’s a strong chance we’re actually enjoying your jovial mood and uncanny ability to mimic your boss so, please, stop asking if you’re getting on our nerves or risk falling into the latter.
4. And lastly. The reason we’re all here. For the love of Heineken’s non-alcoholic beer, please stop asking us why we’re not drinking.
Who cares that we’re not?
From now on, if you have a friend who doesn’t drink quietly acknowledge their decision and don’t ask for an excuse. Instead, shut up, and politely offer them a non-alcoholic beverage at the bar when it’s your turn to buy a round.
Do this for us and we’ll continue to be your sober, angle-on-the-shoulder (still fun though) friend for life.