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Stone cold sober, as a matter of fact

Submitted by Liz P. on April 26, 2010 – 4:37 pmComments

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Photo courtesy of Ben Harris-Roxas via Flickr


A few months ago, I stopped drinking. The driving force behind this decision was quite simple: alcohol makes me sick. For years, I denied this fact. In college, I muscled my way through three day hangovers, telling myself to “toughen up.”  But even when I transitioned into adulthood and responsible, moderate drinking, the morning after would still be disastrous.  One glass of wine with dinner left me feeling nauseous and exhausted.  Refusing to admit defeat, I scoured the internet for solutions, but when the remedies I found did not work; I decided to see a doctor.  It turns out that I am missing an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, which basically means that my liver is ill-equipped when it comes to digesting alcohol. Unfortunately, there is only one solution to this problem: lay off the sauce.

Certainly there are much worse diagnoses to receive, but I have found not drinking to be socially challenging, especially when it comes to interacting with the opposite sex. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school, so getting face time with boys often meant sneaking off to one of their kegs.  Since then, it seems almost every flirtation and fling began with some sort of fermented beverage. Alcohol is part of the dating equation, sometimes the first sign that a guy likes you is when he asks if he can buy you a drink.  Going out in general has been difficult. Anyone who has ever attempted going to a bar sober knows the dark of which I speak. I’ve found that saying, “I’m not drinking,” almost always makes friends who are drinking uncomfortable. They’ll often implore me to “just have one” and at this point I’ve gotten really tired of telling and re-telling my medical saga. And to make matters worse, I like to drink. Who among us doesn’t enjoy a nice glass of wine? Also, I have discovered that trying to talk to a guy without anything to take the edge off isn’t easy. It’s become very clear that a little wine can go a long way in terms of boosting a girl’s self-esteem.

And yet, there’s no denying that my life has significantly improved since I stopped drinking. I’ve started working out regularly for the first time in five years.  I’ve started writing for this blog. And most importantly, I’ve stopped losing entire days because of something I consumed the night before. I know I’ve finally come to terms with doing what’s best for me; which I think is a key part of growing up.  I’m just hoping I can find a way to stick with my decision and still be a part of the dating world.

  • Hi, Liz! I'm sorry to hear that you literally can't drink alcohol. I'm not much of a drinker myself- by choice. What I realized years ago about drinking and dating is that the men who ask me out at bars only have the courage to do so after they're drunk and that's actually really pathetic. Why would I want to date someone who won't even remember my name tomorrow? Where did we Choisters get the idea that the only way we can meet someone is in a bar? Oh, yeah, college. The best place to meet someone is to actually go places that you like and do the things that you want to do- a man will pop up eventually and then you'll have the bonus of knowing you at least have something in common.
    As for your drinking friends being uncomfortable, why should they be? They have a guaranteed sober person to make sure that they don't fall down the stairs to the subway or a DD (if you drive). My advice is to just say "I'm not drinking tonight" and change the topic of conversation- no one questions a woman when she's self confident, offers no explanation, and takes control of the conversation.
    Anyway, I really liked this article, which got me thinking and talking (obviously).
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