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September 26

A non-drinking problem

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:27 am

This Is Your Relationship on DrugsA long dry spell around November 9, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

First of all, please allow me pay homage to your site. It rocks, really.

Okay… where to start? Well, I am a 19 year-old male college freshman and I have a problem — I don’t drink. Doesn’t sound like a problem yet? Ah, but read on… I go to a school where it would be the understatement of the year (perhaps of the decade) to say, “lots of people drink.” EVERYBODY here drinks (except me, it seems). There are huge parties every weekend, beer flows in the streets, people sleep on the lawns, etc… Typical college campus.

This isn’t normally a problem for me. I study a lot, I juggle, I play ping-pong, I do lots of stuff that doesn’t require drinking. The problem arises in my relations with the opposite sex. Now, I hope it’s not too weird not to “want” a girl who smells like beer and/or who just threw up on herself from drinking way too much.

This is why it’s been difficult for me to do anything relationship-wise, because I am afraid that anybody I ask out will be a drinker, and everything we do will end up being based on that activity, which I abhor. I also fear that when/if I start dating a girl and I tell her that I don’t drink, she will drop me like yesterday’s Bud and go find herself a brand new Jack Daniels to party with.

I am also pretty shy about talking to women, which WAY doesn’t help the situation. I’ve only ever had one girlfriend before (which is pathetic, but anyway…) so I don’t have a tenth of the experience some of the guys here do, nor do I ever really know what to say.

Please BG, I don’t want to sit in my dorm room every weekend of my college career and wish I was out with someone having fun (which has happened for the last month or so.) Can you help me?

— Stinking Sober

Dear Stinking Sober,

Ah, a Not Drinking problem. Breakup Girl believes you about the grodisimo parties, and she can imagine that Colt No. 45 is not your favorite perfume.

But I would suggest that the situation is not quite as black and white as you describe it — and, in fact, that you’ve gotten some parts of it backwards.

First, the gray area: I’m sure that the street-flowing beer and the lawn-sleeping students are the most ickily visible and off-turning elements of the party scene. And yes, some girls will, pettily enough, find your lifestyle choice square and undatable. I would venture to say, however, that there are plenty of students who have a couple of flat Coors Lites at a kegger one weekend, then maybe catch a movie and a slice the next — each time winding up safe and sound and relatively sober in his/her own bed. AND that there are plenty of students who, like you, are juggling their options alone in their dorm rooms.

Now, the backwards part: You say (a) I’m a dry guy in a sloshed school, and (b) my shyness isn’t helping. Uh-uh. You are (a) a shy guy, and (b) your sloshed school isn’t helping. Then again, maybe it is. Maybe this year-found Oktoberfest “helps” you find an excellent excuse-brewing medium for not taking scary social risks. See, from your letter I get that you have a legit sincere thing against drinking. But I also get that you … think you’re a dork.

The drinking thing adds an extra layer of conflict, yes. But bottom line, you are not afraid of intemperance, you are afraid of rejection. And that, my dear, is where you are not as much of the odd man out as you think you are. Why do you think those guys on your grass got so loaded in the first place? To be like their friends, to get with girls who are drunk, to numb the pain when they strike out (draping an arm masculinely around a friend and drawling “I LOOOVE YOU MAAAAN” also appears to help). You all share the same fears; it’s just that the resulting actions occur with varying degrees of intelligence, safety, attractiveness, etc.

But Sober, your dry policy and your dry spell do not have to be related. You could seek out groups and folks on campus who are explicitly pro-gingerale, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Do what you do, do what you love; meet a babe who does similar things (ideally, one who’s doing them at a time when others are doing upside down Kamikazes) … and get to know her, even ask her out. Yeah, maybe she tosses back a tequila sunrise once in a while, but you met at ping-pong/English 110, not by tripping over her, right? So clearly you have something — if not teetotaling — in common to get you started. I know the “ask her out!” thing sounds easy for me to say. And it may not work the first time, or the next. But practice: flex the muscle, thicken the skin. Trust me, you are so way better off that — eventually, if you work at it — your inhibitions will be lowered naturally, not chemically.

Breakup Girl


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