I Don’t Drink & It Weirds Out My Friends And My Dates

I don’t drink. There, I said it. It’s not a big deal—many people don’t drink, like those in recovery, for instance. I’m not a recovering alcoholic but I’ve just never really been big on booze. So no, I never get tipsy or drunk, and quite frankly, I’m really tired of being shamed for it.

  1. The sober-shaming starts innocently enough. “What? You don’t drink?” someone will ask when I express that I don’t want beer or rum because I don’t really like alcohol.
  2. Then the looks start. I can see the person’s face changing – their eyes tend to widen – as they probably entertain thoughts like, “OMG, she’s crazy.”
  3. It would be great to stop here, but sadly no… The looks are bad enough, but often the person doesn’t leave the conversation there. They feel an urge to continue. They usually say something like, “You mean you don’t drink ever?”
  4. Is this so damn hard to believe? Does every single person on this earth need to be drunk AF at a party? Does everyone want to go for first-date drinks instead of coffee? Ugh. It’s like I’m some sort of strange and silly creature because I’d rather just order a hot chocolate.
  5. I’ve been called names. Sometimes people let it go when I tell them I don’t want a drink. Other times, some malicious people will continue being nasty to me about my lifestyle choice. Once, a guy I was out with said I had to order something from the drinks menu and when I said I didn’t want to he said I was such a boring person. What a jerk.
  6. I feel like I’m back in high school. Often, people will try to get me to drink. “No, really, this is so delicious, you have to try it! Just have a little sip! Why not? Okay, how about something else then, like tequila? Oh! You like strawberries, so how about a strawberry liquor shot? Hmm? Come on!” I thought peer pressure was supposed to die out after high school.
  7. I don’t like the taste of alcohol. Since I’m not avoiding booze because I’m in the AA or due to religious concerns, I need to be honest and say that I just don’t like the taste of alcohol. Big mistake. This makes people even more surprised, annoyed, or pushes them to try to be more persuasive so that I can have a damn drink. “You don’t get drunk for the taste, ha ha ha!” they might say. Oh man! Just leave me alone!
  8. I’m tired of getting drunk on rejection. I hate the feeling of rejection that happens during these situations. I feel like there must be something wrong with me, even though I know there isn’t and I’m going to stick to my guns. But still, no one wants to feel like the butt of a joke or like they belong in a freaking circus to be gawped at by passersby.
  9. Whatever happened to damn respect? I mean, I love chocolate but I don’t go around telling people who don’t have a sweet tooth that there’s something seriously wrong with them for not eating chocolate or that they should live a little and have some.
  10. This is even worse than telling people I’m a vegetarian. I honestly get more flack for not drinking than I do for being vegetarian—and we all know how severely vegetarians can be the target of criticism. Now, imagine me standing awkwardly at a BBQ, where I have to say I don’t eat meat or drink booze. Yikes! I always feel like I should start running out of fear that someone will pick up a rock and set off my public stoning event.
  11. It bumps up my anxiety. The second someone offers me a drink and I politely refuse it, I feel my face start to warm and my heart rate increase. I start dreading the upcoming conversation and fear that I’m going to have to explain myself to complete strangers. Ugh, it’s horrible! I shouldn’t have to go through this every single time.
  12. Sobriety isn’t a reflection of my personality. There’s a misconception that someone who doesn’t drink is going to be the one to call the cops when the music’s too loud or tell everyone to go home before midnight. I don’t drink but that doesn’t make me boring. I can be really fun even if I’m not holding an ice-cold beer in my hand (it’s actually lemon ice tea, sorry for disappointing you.) Drinking alcohol isn’t going to make me more entertaining/fun to be around. If booze could do that all the time, there wouldn’t be lots of angry, miserable drunks out there, right?
  13. I’m not standing on a soapbox. I really don’t go around judging people for drinking, such as by saying, “You know, that third glass of wine is really bad for your liver.” In the same way, I don’t tell people that they shouldn’t eat meat because it’s bad for the planet. I wish people wouldn’t immediately assume that I’m going to be preaching to them about their lifestyle choices because I think this makes them defensive. I really couldn’t GAF and would appreciate it if they would offer me the same courtesy by not giving me grief for saying no to booze. I’ll drink to that!
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.