When I made the decision to become a non-drinker I never anticipated the impact it would have on my friendships. That impact became evident very quickly and led me to realize that it was making my friends uncomfortable. I do have some advice on being a non-drinker with friends.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
The biggest obstacle I encountered around being a non-drinker with friends was their fear that I was judging them for drinking. They were treating me badly because they were convinced I thought less of them for drinking. I needed to establish early on that it’s not you – it’s me. My choice not to drink didn’t have anything to do with anyone but me. I have no issue with someone else choosing to drink, but for me – it’s not the right option.
We Can Still Hang Out
Part of the fear of being a non-drinker with friends is that they think you won’t be able to hang out anymore. I can still do everything I did before, but now the drink in my hand just won’t have alcohol in it. I can still let loose, have fun, dance all night and laugh until my stomach hurts. If the only tie that was binding us was alcohol, we probably weren’t very good friends to begin with. My true friendships have not only continued as a non-drinker – they have improved.
I’m Not Going To Preach
I’ll admit that my first encounters as a non-drinker with friends might have been a bit awkward. I was on such a high from my freedom that I wanted everyone to feel the same. That got old really quick. I learned not to be such a zealot and preach the risks and benefits to everyone. That said, my non-drinker status has made me a safe sounding board for friends who needed to discuss any addiction issues they might be dealing with.
You Do You
Friends tend to react badly when they assume that you’re going to expect them to change their habits too. Let them know – You do you and I’ll do me. You don’t need to order orange juice instead of a mimosa. You can have a Long Island Iced Tea while I stick with Iced Tea. A vegetarian friend wouldn’t expect you to eat tofu if you invite them to Thanksgiving dinner and non-drinkers don’t expect others to stop drinking for them.
Find out more on being a non-drinker with friends. You can start reading This Naked Mind today.
Be Honest and Open
If you sense a situation is uncomfortable or you’re being treated badly, get it out on the table. The worst thing you can do is ignore it and let the issue fester. Bring it up and talk about it. See if you can settle both your mind and your friend’s mind. Often a lack of communication is the biggest stumbling block.