Sobriety & Relationships: Communicating Your Alcohol-Free Needs
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
One of the most common concerns I hear from my alcohol-free clients is: “How do I talk to my partner about my sobriety? How do I make them understand?”
We want our partner (or friend or family member) to support us. And it would be GREAT if they could just step-up and figure it out. In an ideal world, they'd know exactly what to do. But unfortunately, some folks aren’t very intuitive. They might not know what you need or how to support you, and they may not know how to ask. So for many of us, communicating about this lifestyle change can feel daunting. We often blow it off, chalking it up to a personal decision that we must tackle alone.
And to some extent, that's true! One of the most heroic things about choosing this lifestyle is walking the path of self-exploration & development. This is a HUGE growth opportunity for sober folks: learning how to communicate effectively and ask for what you need. And if you're in a relationship, it's more important than ever!
I’ve put together a few tips on how to talk with your loved ones about ways to support you. It can be difficult to articulate our needs, and boundaries are usually not our strong suit (yet!) So, if you need some help with talking points or ideas, read below. Use the following tips as a guide, and see how the conversation flows.
Easy Ways to Ask For Support - Communicating Your Alcohol-Free Needs
Tip #1 - Discuss Your Edges
Know what you can and cannot tolerate, and then express it.
Do you need your partner to abstain from drinking in your presence? Would this help in some situations where being alcohol-free could be extra challenging (i.e. dinner parties?)
Do you need to remove all alcohol from your home? Would this help you feel less tempted to drink? Or...would it help you feel more honored & respected?
Do you need to adjust your social calendar? Will you be taking a pass on some invitations so that you can protect your energy? How will you feel if your partner goes without you?
What feels good and what doesn't?
Telling your partner specifically what you need will give them an opportunity to show up for you. Open the dialogue and let them help. It's ok if you don't see eye-to-eye on some of these matters. The important thing is for you to express yourself!
Tip #2 - Engage Them
Challenge their "Inner Mixologist." Have ingredients handy for your favorite non-alcoholic cocktail. Ask them to create a unique drink just for you! Make it fun and engaging!
Share a favorite podcast episode, Instagram post or book you're reading. Knowledge is power and learning more about your alcohol-free world may help them understand what you're going through and the challenges you may be facing.
"Your partner doesn't have to be on the same path to show support for the one you're walking. "
Tip #3 - Daily Check-ins
Consider daily "check-ins." The focus doesn't always have to be about your sobriety. But let's face it: your lifestyle may create shifts in your relational dynamics. Things you used to do together may look different for a while. Or maybe forever. Check-ins will give each of you a safe place to share your thoughts, observations, and cultivate connection.
Tip #4 - Celebrate Wins
Milestones are so important! Tell them when you have your "firsts" (i.e. first 30 days alcohol-free, first dinner party, first concert, etc.) and celebrate together! Throw a booze-free dinner party with friends, or create a scrapbook of all your accomplishments.
What do you consider a "win"? And what does a celebration look like for you?
All it takes is a commitment to show up.
Making the decision to live an alcohol-free lifestyle can (and will!) transform your life for the better. But you must be willing to stay committed to yourself - and to your decision.
If you're in a relationship, your sobriety may create some shifts. It can be a challenge to navigate, but your partner doesn't have to be on the same path to show support for the one you're walking. There's never been a better time to sharpen your communication skills than right now. It may take practice but trust me, you want your partner to be a part of your journey. And since it may not be easy for them to understand or relate, setting boundaries and sharing openly are skills that will benefit your relationship and deepen your connection for the better.