This is a very smart post on moving on and setting boundaries with an ex from Jenn Vicious at In Our Words:
“There’s this thing that sometimes happens when people break up but still care about each other: they want to continue working on things that were problems in their relationship. Don’t do that. My opinion on it is that if you break up with someone, then you are done working out the problems in your relationship. You are more likely to get to a place where you can genuinely care about each other as friends if you actually stop relying on each other for the same support you provided when you were together. You have to change your patterns of behavior, change the expectations you have of each other when you interact. It isn’t easy, but if you didn’t know that you needed to do it, you probably would have stayed in the relationship.”
(Bolding mine) That’s my opinion, too, which is why I say to not use the moment when you break up with someone to critique everything about them that you don’t like. You don’t have to make a case to someone about why your heart moved on, you just have to tell them your decision and then figure out how to live with it. Also, it’s true that when what someone wants (you!) is fundamentally different from what you want (not them!) there is no magic way to extricate yourself without hurting them.
And now, a letter:
I’m a 22 year old single female student studying library and information science. I’m a gamer, computer – roleplaying and boardgames it’s all the same.
I also don’t drink alcohol. My family thinks it’s a bit weird but prefer it to an extreme in the other direction and don’t bother me about it anymore, strangers and friends however are a different story. Most assume that I’m either religious (in some strange way), on a cleanse (HA!), a recovering alcoholic or even pregnant.
The thing is that I just don’t like the taste and if/when they find this out it’s no longer accepted for me to abstain. It’s always just this one beer or drink or wine that is going to convert me. And I like hanging out with my friends when there’s drinking. I can watch out for everyone and still have an awesome time with just soda. Still someone always asks and I always have to explain and then be pestered.
“It’s to bitter” I will say and they will reply
“Ah but this drink/beer/wine is different, try it”
and no it’s not it maybe sweet compared to other but that doesn’t make it actually sweet or remove the aftertaste of alcohol.
And I never send out the signal that this is something I want solved. I don’t desperately want to get drunk, I’m not in dire need of a drunk Yoda to guide me in the way of the drink. And not to make light of others problems but when I have to compare to trying to convert others to your faith/sexuality just to make them stop trying to enrich your life it’s gone to far- can someone give a way I can try to convince people to leave it alone without referring to these sensitive and more serious issues?
Please help a frustrated absolutist
Dear Frustrated Absolutist:
Person: “Would you like some wine?”
You: “No, thanks. How is (subject change) going with you?”
Don’t elaborate, don’t explain why, don’t justify it. You said in your letter that you feel like you always have to explain when you turn down alcohol, but you don’t actually have to explain. Be very casual and treat them like you expect nothing weird will happen, and most people will accept subject change and not even realize it. Of course, there will be exceptions, so if someone ask again, try this:
Person: “Are you sure you don’t want some? It’s really good.”
You: “No thanks. So, tell me about (subject change).”
Again, do not explain, justify, or elaborate. It is none of their business why you don’t drink, and elaborating on why invites them to try to make the case that it’s not that bad or tastes like angel sweat stirred by a unicorn. If the person still doesn’t get the hint, and if you like absurdity and are snappy with a comeback, try:
Person: “Why, are you pregnant or something?”
You: “Hahaha, yes, ever since I was kidnapped by demons. They warned me that alcohol could really speed up The Summoning of The Dark One, so I’m trying to lay off until the Day of The Blood Harvest is complete. So, about (subject change)…”
Person: “But why?”
You: “It makes my personality implant malfunction, and trust me, you DON’T want to meet (stage whisper) Leviticus, the Hands-y Science Professor.”
Person: “But you should totally drink! It’s fun and refreshing!”
You: “I believe you! I’m starting to run out of subject changes, though, so I would *really* like the next one to take.”
If you are not so snappy with a comeback, or want an all-purpose strategy, here is my actual recommended strategy if someone gets pushy about why you won’t drink:
Be done talking to that person for the time being. You said no TWICE. “No” is a complete sentence. If someone is just not hearing your “no” and steamrollering over it, one possible solution is to just walk away from the conversation. There are lots of people to talk to at parties. You can decide how much of an issue you want to make of it. You can go “gracefully“or ungracefully , i.e., “Hey, good talking to you” and excuse yourself from the conversation, or “I’ve said ‘no thanks’ twice now. Is there a problem?”
Sometimes it’s good to engage with people and explain to them sincerely why what they are doing is out of line, as in, “Hey, do we really have to have this conversation again? Because it’s exhausting and boring. Stop trying to convince me of something I already know and get to decide for myself.” Other times, the most self-caring thing you can do is to get yourself away from people & conversations that stress you out, and save your energy for people who make you feel good. Other times, you can just blink at them incredulously and remain silent until they fill the awkward silence with something less intrusive and terrible. “I’m sorry, what?”
Because: The problem is not you not wanting to drink, or why you don’t want to drink. The problem is people hearing “no thanks” and taking that as the opening stage in a negotiation. And I think it is good for everyone to recognize when that is happening and have strategies for shutting the conversation down.
You’re not weird for not drinking. They are weird for taking “I don’t drink” as an invitation to sell you on drinking. Analogous: Someone is not weird for being a vegetarian, or having celiac disease, or being a vegetarian with celiac disease. The person who hears “I’m a vegetarian and I have celiac” and responds with “But have you tried this sandwich of ground animal parts on a whole wheat bun? I think it’s really going to change your whole outlook on things!” is committing a massive, massive faux pas. And that faux pas is coercion. Which we need less of, both generally and around food/drink specifically. Whenever someone behaves like that, I wonder, are they really THAT insecure about what they like? If the people in your life love drinking so much, they can do it without your validation or participation. Someone making a different choice than you would make is not invalidating your choices.
Now, your friends and family should know that you don’t drink, and they should be respectful about that. Which means, warning you if something has alcohol in it, and not making you explain yourself about it, or, if someone is badgering you about it they should also step in and say “Yeah, she doesn’t drink. So, howabout (subject change)?” as well. If they make fun of you or shame you, shut it down, not because you should drink but because people shaming you about choices that have nothing to do with them is shitty.