I recently caught up with people who I hadn’t seen for years and it served as another reminder that the fear I used to have about not being able to socialise without alcohol was less of an issue than I thought it would be.
I have socialised a lot without alcohol so I no longer think about it when going out because those who know me are aware that I don’t drink.
However this was a group I hadn’t seen for years and that old fear – “would I feel weird if I wasn’t drinking?” – raised its ugly head.
But it simply was another reminder that I could not only socialise without alcohol, but I also actually now prefer it.
This was definitely not something I ever thought I’d say!
Here’s the top three things I realised:
Drinking wasn’t consuming my thoughts
In the past I would have had a couple of drinks to ‘take the edge off’ as I was getting ready.
Then, when I got to the venue, I would have headed straight to the bar on arrival to make sure I had a drink before diving into the small talk.
Throughout the night I would have been conscious of how much I was drinking, how much other people were drinking and trying not to appear too tipsy.
Towards the end of the night I did see a few people who had drunk too much and were losing their train of thought during a conversation or becoming overly emotional.
That would have been me a few years ago and I would have woken the next morning with vague memories of what I’d said and hoping that I hadn’t embarrassed myself.
I enjoyed myself more
Because I wasn’t thinking about drinking (“Have I drunk too much?”, “When should I get my next drink?”, “Why isn’t the bar tender serving me yet?”) I could actually relax and be in the moment.
I could pay attention to the conversations I was having and the people I was with, rather than the drink in my hand.
I didn’t feel the need to numb out the social anxiety because, funnily enough, by not drinking I was actually less anxious.
And I also enjoyed all the other positive things about not drinking – I could drive myself and my friends home (no hanging around for ages waiting for an Uber), I woke up fresh the next morning and went out for brunch, and I could look back on the night without any regrets that I had drunk more than I should have.
Nobody knew (or cared) what I was drinking
I used to be worried about what I would say to people who asked me why I wasn’t drinking.
However, I wasn’t asked once what was in my glass.
Two of my friends who were with me knew I wasn’t drinking but no-one else knew that the mocktail that I started the night with and the alcohol-free ciders I had after that contained no alcohol.
We all wanted to know what everyone had been up to in the past few decades and were too busy reminiscing about our school days to be interested in what anyone else was drinking.
I was also really pleased to see that the bar had a really good alcohol-free drinks list – wine, beer, cider and mocktails. I was spoilt for choice.
Could you really socialise without drinking?
If you’re thinking about taking a break from drinking, or simply cutting back, but are worried about how it will impact your social life. you are not alone.
This is one of the most common concerns that my clients have when they’re looking to change their relationship with alcohol and it’s one that I help coach them through.
If you need support in taking back control, please reach out to me.
I provide a free 30-minute discussion call where you can talk about your situation in a completely private and confidential way and I can advise you on the support I can provide.