How To Have A Social Life Without Alcohol
If you're not a fan of drinking and would rather your social life not revolve around it, you're not alone. Whether you just don't like alcohol, or need to avoid it to stay sober, the good news is it's totally possible to have a busy and rewarding social life without getting buzzed or drunk all the time. This article will cover a few quick, simple principles for how to do that.
This piece is about how to structure your social life so drinking doesn't come into the picture. A related article is about how to avoid being pressured to drink if you do find yourself somewhere where the booze is flowing.
Figure out what amount of drinking you are willing to be around
Many people who they say they want to avoid alcohol in their social life aren't opposed to all drinking among their friends. They just don't like events that hinge on hanging out and getting drunk, and they often don't enjoy the loud, rowdy, crowded parties and clubs where that usually happens. They'd have no problem if their friends had a glass of wine or two during a low-key dinner party, or nursed a beer over an afternoon at a board game cafe.
Try to learn where the line is for you. It will let you take part in more potentially fun outings, rather than dismissing all of them with "There's alcohol present. I can't go." Maybe you're fine going to the pub with your co-workers on a Tuesday when they only have a pint, but don't enjoy their company as much when they want to get wasted after work on Friday. Of course, if you decide you do want to avoid any and all drinking, that's fine too.
Make friends who either aren't big drinkers themselves or who are willing to do non-drinking-focused things with you
I know it can seem like there aren't any fellow non-drinkers around, but they are out there. Even in college. They just aren't announcing it to the world as much as the people who party every weekend. Also, your friends don't have to be non-drinkers to the same degree you are. They only need to be willing to hang out with you in a non-drinking context. If you see a good friend twice a week to have dinner or go for a walk, what's it matter if they're also doing their own thing and getting drunk apart from you on Saturday nights? Many social circles have a member or two in them who is on good terms with everyone, and who comes to most events, but takes a pass on the zanier parties.
A good way to meet non-drinking friends is through activities and hobbies where alcohol doesn't come into play...
Center your social life around activities where drinking isn't involved
There are tons of social activities where drinking isn't normally done or is only done in moderation. Combining drinking with some pastimes is even downright dumb and infeasible. If you do them then you'll get to hang out with people and naturally keep alcohol out of the equation. Here are few:
- Going shopping with a friend
- Having coffee
- Meeting people for brunch, lunch, or an early dinner (sometimes there will be drinking, but often not)
- Going for a walk
- Hanging around someone's house during the day
- Mountain biking
- Rock climbing
- Any kind of team sport, especially more competitive non-beer leagues (e.g., soccer, volleyball)
- Most individual sports (e.g., tennis, skiing)
- Any endurance sports (e.g., running, cycling)
- Going to a museum or art gallery
- Seeing a movie or play
- Going to a family-friendly music festival during the day
- Playing games in a gaming store
- Playing in a bridge or chess club
- Any kind of classes (e.g., a figure drawing or cooking class)
- Dance lessons (that take place at a studio, not a bar)
- Acting or improv comedy classes
You'll notice that these activities force you to get out of the house, be active, and be involved in interesting hobbies. I'm not saying for a second that everyone who enjoys alcohol is boring and one-dimensional, but when your go-to way to hang out with your friends to sit around and drink with them, you can get into a rut where that's all you do. As a non-drinker you'll often need to have more going on hobby-wise, which is hardly a bad thing.
Shift your social time toward doing things during non-drinking hours
Aside from focusing your social life more around hobbies and activities, realize you're going to be doing more things during the times when people aren't usually drinking. That means during the day and weekday evenings, and not on Friday and Saturday nights. It's not that you can't do any sober activities during those times if you have the right group of friends, but just accept not as many doors will be open. If you spend all Saturday hiking with some buddies, grab a quick dinner with them on your way back to the city, then head home and relax in the evening, consider that day a success. Don't feel you're lame or missing out because you don't have plans during the weekend evenings, when everyone is "supposed" to have something booked.