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Why we should socialize without alcohol more often

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Spending a night out without the alcohol is a gesture of respect.

On Friday night we had a Camp Gladiator social at a local dive bar. It was tons of fun and all kinds of campers and trainers showed up, but as the night got later and the drinks got stronger, I noticed a phenomenon I had kind of forgotten about.

It’s been years since I went out to bars or restaurants with any kind of regularity — life with many kids makes that kind of thing unsustainable. But when I was newly married and pregnant with our first child, we still met friends for nights out. I was always eager to go because I’m a true extrovert and thrive on social connection, and I usually really enjoyed the evening.

For about three hours.

Inevitably, the night would grow old and I would get tired while all my friends got another round. They’d get loud and silly and I’d get increasingly irritated, waiting for my husband to be ready to leave so I could crawl into bed.

Usually I got teased about being a “stick in the mud” or someone would blame my exhaustion and grumpiness on my pregnancy — which, okay, fair. But it wasn’t entirely the pregnancy. A lot of it was the fact that they were drinking and I wasn’t, and the more rounds in they were, the more the conversation tended to deteriorate. To tell the truth, I was mostly bored.

Apparently this is a common phenomenon that non-drinkers experience, according to the Huffington Post.

“It can be hard to watch people make decisions, or say things that they wouldn’t ever say/do sober. It’s one thing when they have a glass of wine or two, but when they get drunk, it’s somewhat embarrassing to watch,” said Almog, who chose to stop drinking after years of working as a paramedic and seeing too many drunken driving accidents.

Tonnie Katz noticed that when people have had a lot to drink, “they think their conversation makes total sense, when … [it] is often just the opposite.”

Micah Smith said a surprising number of his friends get “very sentimental” and will start telling “anyone who will listen how proud they are of our friendship, or what they love about me.” While the chatter starts off as sweet and flattering, the friends often ignore their filters and “divulge too much information,” he added.

This is all very similar to what I experienced during that first pregnancy. I was viscerally reminded of that on Friday night, when the conversation started getting a little wilder and the people who weren’t drinking (or who were sticking to one or two) began to get painfully familiar frozen smiles on their faces.

One by one, they slowly made their exits. I watched them go and felt a little bit sad, thinking that the whole social drinking scene — while not inherently sinful — certainly can make life hard for people who don’t drink. So I resolved to spend the next social without a drink in my hand, both out of respect for friends who have made the hard choice to give up alcohol and to show some solidarity to those who just don’t like to drink. Socializing is still a lot of fun without alcohol — and the best part is, no one wakes up with a headache in the morning.

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