The Sober Curious Guide to Setting Healthy Boundaries

When it comes to incorporating new changes to your lifestyle, there are a lot of questions and emotions involved. 

Suddenly, your social circle, family, and co-workers might interrogate you. Curiosity is a fundamental human trait, so those around you naturally will want to know why you've stopped drinking. 

Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries to support your sober-curious journey will help you stay confident in your decision. 

Boundaries are essential for our health.

Boundaries help us establish a sense of self-respect, self-worth, and personal identity. They define the limits of what we will and will not tolerate in our lives and relationships.

Without boundaries, we may find ourselves constantly giving in to the demands of others, neglecting our own needs and priorities, and feeling overwhelmed.

If your co-workers are used to you grabbing happy hour with them every Thursday, and one night, you're ordering sparkling water instead of your go-to glass of white wine, your choice of drink might raise a few eyebrows. 

Even though you've chosen not to consume alcohol with your co-workers, that doesn't mean you are less likely to want to participate in winding down together after a long workday. 

If someone notices that you're not ordering a drink, they might blatantly ask you why you're no longer drinking. 

How you choose to explain your new lifestyle decision is ultimately up to you, but we wanted to give you some tools based on our experience to help you navigate your sober-curious journey. 

With a little preparation before engaging in social settings, learning how to say no to a drink, and respectfully responding when questioned, you'll feel more empowered and at ease with sticking to your sobriety. 

Three ways to explain why you're not drinking

Use these explanations to avoid getting too specific if you're not ready to disclose the why behind your alcohol-free night. By setting boundaries with the people in your life, you will strengthen the right relationships. 

There will be people who choose to respect your lifestyle choices and others who will not. Those who stick around and support you are the people you want to keep in your life! 

When someone offers you a drink, be clear and direct. Say, "No, thank you, I'm not drinking tonight." You don't need to go into detail or provide an explanation if you don't want to.

Be confident in yourself and your decision. Don't feel like you need to apologize or justify your decision not to drink. 

However, here are some pointers if someone wants to know why and won't take no for an answer.

"I'm no longer drinking because of personal reasons." 

We've all experienced chatting with a nosy nancy once in our lifetime before. If you haven't, consider yourself lucky! They're the type of person who just won't take no for an answer. 

When this happens, you can tell them you're trying something new for personal reasons. You still want to socialize and engage with others, but at this moment in your life, you're choosing not to consume alcohol. 

One of the best ways to change the subject is to pivot and ask them about themselves. It's a natural human instinct to seek attention and recognition. By shifting the focus back on them, they're more likely to forget why your glass is filled with water instead of a gin and tonic. 

You can politely excuse yourself if they are not receptive to your response. Remember, people's extreme reactions often reflect their relationship with alcohol consumption, not yours.

"I'm focusing on my health."

There's nothing wrong with wanting to feel healthier and more energized each day. 

You can tell them how you started to notice how alcohol was affecting your health and sleep. It's not new news that alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to poor-quality sleep. 

You are prioritizing feeling better each morning, and alcohol no longer contributes positively to your life. 

"I'm trying something new."

You might have a goal you're working towards, and drinking alcohol no longer aligns with your new values. Perhaps, you want to cut back on spending and have noticed that you can save a significant amount of money each week by not drinking. 

Maybe, you signed up for a race and are looking forward to waking up refreshed each morning to train. Or you are starting a new hobby and are trying to find a balance between going out and exploring a new interest. 

Also, significant life changes, such as becoming a parent or starting a new job, can shift priorities and decrease alcohol consumption.

Try to always stay confident and calm.

People will often try to get you to drink "just one beer," even after you've already said no. Stay confident in your decision and firmly repeat, "No, thank you." 

No matter how frustrating it is when people are disrespectful and try to push alcohol on you, remaining calm, kind, and confident will help you keep your inner peace. 

The right people will stick around. 

Depending on your relationship with whoever wants to know why you're no longer drinking alcohol, you can choose to disclose as little or as much as you want. 

Your decision not to drink is a personal choice. Be proud of your decision, and don't be afraid to share it with others. 

Those who listen to you and are encouraging are the people who will be supportive of your growth and stay by your side. 

Starting a sober curious journey is a beautiful opportunity to see which friendships are deeply rooted in compassion, acceptance, and love. 

The friendships that no longer align will naturally fade away and give you the space to make new friends ready to join you in your alcohol-free life.

Written by: Elena Rogers

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