Most people don’t seem to realize that it’s rude to ask someone you don’t know very well why they don’t drink. What if I don’t drink because I’m pregnant but not ready to tell people about it? What if I don’t drink because there’s a history of alcoholism in my family or I myself am a recovering alcoholic?
My biggest problem with this situation is one of hypocrisy. Many people who drink assume that those of us who don’t are judging them. Most of my friends drink. If I don’t care that my friends drink when we go out, why should they care that I don’t? Well, my friends don’t care. That’s why they’re my friends. We can have dinner or play trivia or whatever while they order beer after beer and I order Diet Coke after Diet Coke. But I’ve had more than my share of encounters with people who do care, and they are the ones who come across as judgmental, because they have a preconceived idea of me based on my sobriety.
I’m currently trying the online dating thing and some of the questions on one of the sites have to do with drinking. You can mark which responses you’ll accept from a potential match. I’ve seen lots of guys on there who won’t accept “I don’t drink” or “I’ve never been drunk” as answers from matches. Requiring a match to drink seems shady to me. You honestly couldn’t have a great relationship with someone who doesn’t drink? Are you afraid she’s uptight and won’t do anything fun without a couple drinks in her first? Trust me, I’m crazy enough sober. I don’t need alcohol to be willing to get up and do karaoke in front of a bunch of strangers or to dance on tables or ask someone out. If you do, I’m sorry that you haven’t reached a level of confidence that lets you do those things sober, but don’t project yourself onto me. Even more discouraging is the thought that these individuals literally can’t have a good a time without alcohol being involved; that suggests a serious problem. Even more sinister is the thought that a few of these guys probably want girls who drink because then they can take advantage of them. If a guy takes me out and shows disappointment when I don’t order an alcoholic beverage, the first thing I’m going to think is “he was hoping to get me drunk.” And what other reason would a man have for wanting to get a woman drunk? If he doesn’t care what I drink, it means he’s actually interested in getting to know me.
It never occurs to me to ask someone “why do you drink?” Mostly because I couldn’t care less. I never understood why people get so obsessed about what other people eat and drink. As long as they’re not cannibals, who cares? But our society has adopted this hobby of judging what other people consume. Meat eaters scoff at vegetarians, vegetarians look down their noses at meat eaters, vegans adopt an air of spiritual superiority, and everyone else thinks vegans have lost their minds. Eat what you want, just don’t try to foist your eating habits onto me. The same goes for drinking. You see me at the party or the bar conversing and having a good time with people who are drinking. Why are you so alarmed over what’s in my glass? There are good reasons for avoiding alcohol. There is no good reason for harassing someone who makes that choice.