Why I Don't Drink

My beverages of choice. May 2013.

My beverages of choice. May 2013.

When people notice that someone doesn’t drink alcohol, they become extremely awkward.

Some try to convince the nondrinker that she should have “just one.” Some say that alcohol has health benefits. If they don’t say anything, they seem uncomfortable. Likely, the silent ones don’t know what to say.

I don’t drink alcohol—and never really have.

When people discover this fun fact, they react as though I’ve judged them. They appear to think I care that they drink. They act slightly threatened and defensive.

Yes, food and drink are communal. Even some members of the animal kingdom use food to make friends. A study of bonobos found that they will share delicacies with unknown monkeys to build social networks. (And for a wild animal, sharing sustenance is no small sacrifice.)

However, humans find community in many endeavors. And we regularly dine together without eating and drinking exactly the same things.

And I don’t like alcohol.


  • It tastes nasty.

  • I don’t find it relaxing.

  • Fuzzy-headed-ness sours my mood.

  • Acting out of control or idiotic does not appeal to me.

  • Alcohol is highly expensive (which mattered a great deal in college and graduate school).

  • The calories in most drinks could make a meal. Worth it if I liked the stuff—not worth it when I find it foul-tasting.

  • I have enough of an obsessive personality and enough alcoholics in my family to see what happens when a person combines intensity and addictive substances. I’ll pass on tempting their fate.

I’m happy to go to bars with friends and drink something else. I don’t mind if someone chooses wine at dinner and I order sparkling water. Yet I don’t see a reason to do something I don’t like that has few benefits.

With almost anything else, people wouldn’t care. I don’t like oysters. I’m not a fan of horror movies. No one seems freaked out by either preference.

So why do people care so much about nondrinkers in their midst?

What’s your take?