I get asked a lot about one-liners.

No, not those one-liners.

I’ve never been one of those master pick-up artists who knows exactly what to say to hook that mysterious stranger from across the bar.

I’m talking about the one-liners that you can use to detract invasive and at times belligerent  questions about why you aren’t drinking.

When I first stopped drinking and decided to venture back into my social scene sans-alcohol, it was intimidating. I stumbled over my words. I felt like I needed to justify my actions. I over-explained myself at times. Basically, I opened the door for a dialogue I didn’t necessarily feel like having in the middle of a noisy bar or party.

What I also found was that the people who were drinking would very quickly make the issue about themselves.They’d take it personally that I didn’t want to drink with/like them. Seeing someone choose differently is sometimes like having a mirror held up, and I’ve found that most people aren’t ready to look at what they see.

Over the years though, I’ve learned several strategies that have really worked for me in situations like this (and these are the ones that I share with my clients, as well).

But before we dive into the one-liners, it’s important to remind yourself that it is no one’s business if you’re drinking alcohol or not, and more importantly, it’s no one’s business why you aren’t drinking alcohol. Period. You do not owe anyone an explanation, so release yourself from feeling like you do, right now.

The thing is, if someone offers you a drink or asks why you aren’t drinking, and your response is, “I don’t drink,” the follow up question will almost always be, “Why?” That’s why it is good to have a few of these one-liners ready for delivery.

Second, drunk people or people who may have an issue/problem with alcohol will often try to make whatever you are saying about them – so choose your words carefully. Make it about you, not them. Even if they start personalizing whatever you’re saying, you can go so far as to say, “This really isn’t about you, enjoy your drink! There’s no judgement over here.”

Before we dive in, I must say that I’m not a huge fan of lying. There’s a lot of advice out there on how to avoid prying questions about your non-drinking, and many advocate lying. Sure, there’s a time and a place, like maybe when talking to an intrusively creepy stranger (“I’m pregnant!” often works like a charm in this scenario). There’s also a lot of excuses you can use, such as “I’m driving!” or “I have an important meeting tomorrow” or “I’m allergic” or “I’m on antibiotics” … but I find these set you up for some internalized shame. Because by not being at least somewhat honest, you are telling yourself there is something to be ashamed about. You should never feel ashamed about your decision not to drink alcohol.

I’m a bit advocate of being as aligned as possible with your truth.

So whatever your reasons are for not drinking or wanting to drink less, give yourself some credit and an energetic boost that affirms the path you are on.

Okay, so what are some of my favourite one-liners? Drumroll please – here they are (in order of most vague to more specific):

  1. I’m just taking a break for a while.
    Why it works: You are clearly making this statement about yourself. You aren’t making absolute statements, you aren’t saying alcohol is bad (which often triggers people) and you aren’t saying this is forever. You don’t need to go into details, but if pressed for more, you can respond with the following one-liner.

  2. It started affecting me differently, so I decided to cut it out for a while.
    Why it works: Again, you are making a statement that no one can argue with. You aren’t saying that alcohol is good or bad, only that you started feeling it differently, and are making different choices.

  3. For health reasons.
    Why it works: It’s vague, and again, difficult for someone to challenge your personal quest for better health. They may retort that, “Wine is good for you,” or “There’s nothing wrong with one drink” at which point you could follow up with the next one-liner.

  4. I’m doing a cleanse. (or insert other health-related initiative)
    Why it works: With so many different kinds of cleanses and “detox” programs out there – most people are familiar with the concept of cutting out certain foods or substances for a while. And it’s the truth! If you are pressed with further questions or feel like elaborating, you can talk about all of the health-related reasons you are giving your body a break from alcohol.

  5. I’m doing my own personal social experiment, I want learn what it feels like to be in XX situation without alcohol.
    Why it works: This sometimes confuses drunk people, because they start thinking about what it might be like looking in from the more sober side of things. This is where you make your escape. Okay, but seriously, I’ve actually had good results with this one – again, it’s a personal statement grounded in curiosity and investigation.

  6. I’m in the process of getting to know myself better, so I decided to cut out alcohol for a while.
    Why it works: Similarly to number 5, this is a “pause and think about it” kind of answer.
    If the asker challenges you with something along the lines of, “And you really think you need to stop drinking to do that?” Your answer can be a simple, “Yes, I’ll let you know what I find out.”

Of course, there are a million other ways to turn down a drink, and quite often a simple, “I’m good for now, thanks!” delivered with a smile will suffice.

But being able to share the whole truth, if you feel comfortable, is always fantastic.

The more we can support each other to open up about the reasons why we’re deciding to drink less alcohol (or none at all!), the more we are creating awareness that there are alternatives to alcohol-fuelled fun.

If you’d like more strategies on how to drink less, and what to drink instead of alcohol, make sure to download my guide “How to have a great night without getting wasted” from my website.

And always, if you feel in need of extra support, feel free to set up a time to talk.


Additional sources:

http://summertomato.com/8-tips-for-drinking-less-without- your-friends-knowing/