Interpreting Friends Who Don’t Drink Alcohol and What They Mean

You’ve probably been out with a friend or had them over with company and have participated in one of the most basic social interactions when alcohol is involved: you’ve offered them a drink, and your friend responds that they don’t drink. It’s a quick and simple fact, “No thanks, I don’t drink.” But you probably just don’t understand it all, especially if maybe this friend used to drink. The next thing you say here will define what kind of person you will be to that friend: a supporter or a shamer.

As one who used to drink and stopped now, I am amazed and disappointed in how easily society has put a negative connotation somehow around the idea of not drinking. It doesn’t concern us non-drinkers so much when strangers or the bartender looks at us funny as we order a water, but a true friend’s reaction is an important one, which is why you should be careful what you say next.

There were a few factors to why I personally decided to stop drinking. For one, I know it only harms my body and health, so I have chosen to cut it out entirely now. I prioritize my health highly, so I can’t fathom consuming the alcoholic sugar calories anymore. I also have gone through health changes that make it much less enjoyable for me to drink altogether. For your friend who has also stopped drinking, I know they have their own reason too. All my friends love drinking, and so I know it equally confuses them that I don’t, so I figured the least I could do is help de-code these behaviors from your friend that won’t drink.

There are really countless reasons a person would choose not to drink, and it’s no different than the choice people make to cut out other things too; lots of people don’t eat gluten, while others do not consume meat. We have vegetarians, vegans, and pescatarians, and there are lots of other things people choose to cut out of their diet often, from lactose in dairy to caffeine in their coffee. Those people, though, are not as harshly judged as the ones who don’t drink liquor, which is why this needs to be said:

Your friend that doesn’t want to drink has already made the decision, and that does not affect you.

If your friend doesn’t want to drink, that is not a “problem” you have to fix. They are not looking for a different alcoholic beverage, they’re not waiting for you to tell them how it tastes or makes you feel safe to drink it, and they aren’t going to have any less “fun” than you because of it.

When anyone turns down a drink, you really just have to say back, “Do you want some water then or a soda?” It’s all that simple.

Choosing not to drink happens for a lot of reasons, but no matter which it is, understanding and kindness is all they’re looking for. To instead offer them a non-alcoholic alternative, you are immediately showing them that you heard them, and you respect their choice. And trust me, water isn’t “boring” or “lame” to offer a guest either; if we aren’t drinking to get intoxicated, you can assume we would love to drink to hydrate instead!

Now, when your lifelong best friend who was wasted by your side throughout college at all the bars, concerts, and frat parties and for years suddenly says they don’t want that lifestyle anymore, I don’t blame you for feeling perhaps a little affected. You may think you’re losing a drinking buddy or wing man, but don’t start making assumptions and drawing conclusions without hearing the whole story.

You may also fear that this says something about your drinking habits, that your drinking partner is no longer a drinker at all. Do you fear they look down on you for it or judge you now? Their decision not to drink isn’t a reflection of you, and it’s especially not their way of saying they don’t want to hang out with you any more.

The important thing is to not cast negative judgement on them and disrespecting their decision, or you risk alienating them and losing the relationship altogether. Mean jokes, begging them to drink, or telling them they’re lame will tear that friendship apart, but you can ask if they’re open to talk about it to better understand why your friend is making this huge lifestyle change. If they are really your friend, they would love to tell you about it in a judgement-free space!

I love my friends dearly, but the moment they start cracking jokes about being the only sober one there, I immediately just wish I was home and hadn’t gone out to see them in the first place. Sometimes people will offer me other things, like a different beer or wine. I know my friends are just trying to be nice when they offer to make me something special or order a new cocktail for me, but I feel unheard and misunderstood when they do.

We are all human and we’re born to grow and change, evolve. If we drank once before, it doesn’t mean we always have to. We can party and go out without alcohol, and we can have fun without it.

To the friends who have always asked me what non-alcoholic drink I’d like instead, thank you 💕 for your understanding and kindness. I’m always down for a coffee or glass of water!

9 Signs of a Toxic Friendship You May Not See Right Away

by: Danielle Ternyila

Are they a good friend or a bad friend? It’s a question that we never want to consider. A friend is someone you have bonded with and share a mutual affection with, so it only makes sense that we want to see the very best in them and struggle with answering this question on our own. How do you know your friend is toxic? Answer the questions below for your own Toxic Friendship Quiz.

There are signs you have a toxic friendship, but it may be hard to recognize these signs in a good friend or especially a romantic partner. One sign of a toxic relationship is feeling like everything is better than it is, which can make it hard for you to see on your own. Friends and family might start pointing it out and questioning things, and you’ll probably feel it all has come out of no where. Unfortunately, people won’t just see signs of abuse and toxic friends for no reason, and that’s a hard pill to swallow when you love someone so much. It’s even harder when the friend is slowly fanning the flames behind your back.

The Toxic Friendship Quiz: Answer These Questions

Take the time to think for yourself about your life and the friendship in question. Reflect carefully over these different questions that will help you understand if you are in a toxic relationship, and be honest as you quiz yourself here.

How much time do you dedicate to this friend and vice versa?

Think about it in hours or days, whatever is easier for you to calculate. How much time do you spend texting them, listening to them, or doing them favors? Do you more often do things they want to, eat at their favorite restaurants, or do things on their schedule instead of yours? Do you move events and plans around to accommodate your friend?

Consider the reverse now, and how much time and effort do they put into your life? Is it the same, and would they do the same for you if they were in your shoes? Without any excuses or reasons they couldn’t go as above and beyond for you as you do for them!

Do they provide you positive or negative support and energy?

Have you ever gone to your friend complaining about your brother or someone close to you? Positive support is pushing you to fix things, find the good, and move forward in a way that can better you. Negative support makes you think the situation is impossible and pulls you further away from others.

Another way to look at this is to consider your life now and then; before this friend, did you have as much drama or conflict in your life? Has there been more negative or positive with the addition of this friend to your life? If you’re still not sure, keep reading. Some of these other questions may help you realize the answers you’re unsure of right now.

Do you feel like you need their permission to make a decision?

You are your own person, so you make your own decisions. However, a toxic person will want to have a say in these decisions, no matter what the matter is. They will make you feel like their opinion is important or the most correct; you are the one person you will always have to live with, so you have to make your own decisions. When someone else doesn’t let you do that and tries to cloud your judgement or control you, you need to cut ties. Don’t just consider it, just do it.

No one has the right to make you feel guilty about a decision you want to make or should be able to run your life. We aren’t puppets; we are people, and you’re one of the best!

Do they create a divide between yourself and your loved ones?

It may not look deliberate, but overtime, have they pulled you away from people who used to be very close to you? They might pick fights between you and your family or point out things for you to get mad at them for? Do your old friends still want to be around you, or have they burned those bridges too?

If you have come to a point where you have to choose one person over another, especially someone like your family or a parent, the answer to this question is yes; they are feeding the fires and encouraging you to exclude yourself from these people.

Do you feel appreciated by them?

You can appreciate the friendship, but a bad friend will not have that same gratitude in return for you. Think about what you do and have done to show them you care about them, and think about what they have done for you in return. Does it sound fair? Does it sound like they would do the same for you that you have done for them? If they were in your shoes, would they do the same for you?

It’s a hard question to answer because we want to believe they truly care about us, but if you’re unsure if they appreciate you, that is an answer; keep reading.

Are you as important to them as they are to you?

Consider the things you have done for them, the ways you may have catered to them, and the favors you have done. How have you helped them on the day to day, and how have they shown their gratitude in return?

A good friend borrows your car and fills the tank back up when they’re done. A really good friend fills it up, apologizes for the inconvenience, and offers the same hand to you when you need it. A bad friend takes advantage of this kindness and might make you feel guilty for it somehow, whether it’s because you have a car and they don’t, your life is easier, or you’re more lucky according to them.

Do they support your decisions and goals?

It’s easier to see back in your school days than it might be as an adult, but a truly good friend will support your decisions and dreams no matter what; the toxic friend is focused on themselves, so if you taking 8am classes in college will take away from their evenings partying late, they won’t want you doing that, even if it means you could graduate earlier or get the internship you have been dreaming of. He or she might tell you that you need a different dream, you aren’t good enough, you couldn’t handle it, or it’s bad for you now even though you had been dreaming of it for years.

Do they make you feel guilty for your life?

There are certain things in your life or day-to-day that your friend makes you feel guilty for; perhaps it is something you are just lucky enough to have or they’re just so unlucky they don’t have the same, but nothing in this life comes down to luck. Imagine owning a car while your friend doesn’t; they might make you feel bad for having more and make you feel like you owe them something for not living “fairly”. In reality, you do not have a car because you’re luckier than them; you have a car because you saved up your money and made a big investment one day and pay car payments and insurance premiums every month. You deserve your car and the life you live.

You should not feel ashamed or guilty for living your life and who you are. You should be appreciated for who you are and not compared to others.

Are you searching for some sort of toxic friend quiz to prove the accusers wrong?

You may be looking for this just to prove something to the non-believers, but deep down, you are likely trying to convince yourself of something. This quiz is your sign that you really are having doubts of your own that you don’t want to see. It may feel embarrassing to admit you were wrong to trust someone like this, but it will be more embarrassing to stick around anyway; you deserve better, I promise.

A toxic friend or relationship quiz from the internet won’t tell you anything more than you should already know by now. If this is something that is already on your mind, that’s the biggest sign that you shouldn’t ignore. It’s a gut instinct, and you have it for a reason.

I have been there, and I promise it will get better; choose you, choose hope. Don’t waste your time with anyone that is not going to lift you higher; you don’t need to be pulled down by their problems that have nothing to do with you.