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3 trips for drinking less even if your partner won't cut back on booze, from a therapist

Couple in a bar.
Cutting down on alcohol can be tricky if your partner doesn't want to.Getty Images
  • More and more people are cutting down on alcohol or even going sober.

  • If your partner plans to keep drinking regularly, this could make it tricky to stick to your goals.

  • A psychologist shares three ways to cut down on booze even if your partner doesn't want to.

As we approach the end of Dry January, you might be thinking about cutting down on alcohol long-term. But that can be tricky if your partner doesn't want to, and booze has always been a big part of your social life.

More people are going sober or cutting down on alcohol than ever, with today's young Americans less likely to drink than they would have two decades ago, according to a 2023 Gallup poll. But that means plenty of people aren't changing their drinking habits, potentially making it tricky for those cutting down to stick to their goals.

This is reflected in a 2021 survey by the UK charity Drinkaware, which found that around one in four people reported finding it difficult to resist alcohol if their partner was drinking.

But it is possible to cut down on alcohol when faced with these challenges, Audrey Tang, a chartered psychologist and a member of the British Psychological Society, told Business Insider. She added that if your partner is actively tempting you to drink, despite knowing that you want to cut down, or objects to your decision, that is another issue in itself and might be a sign of a larger underlying problem.

Tang shared three tips for dealing with the obstacles you might face when trying to cut down on booze if your partner's not.

Talk to your partner

If your partner doesn't like the fact you want to stop drinking, it might be because it's making them feel bad about their own drinking habits, Tang said.

It forces them to reflect, she said, and they may be resistant to accept that they could benefit from cutting down, too.

Equally, if drinking has always been a big part of your relationship, it could come as a shock to them and be perceived as a rejection. But this isn't the case, Tang said.

"It's a rejection of alcohol, not a rejection of going out. It's a rejection of the situation, but often, when it's not in your landscape to understand why or to see it, it's really difficult to empathize with it," she said.

Tang said that the solution is to talk to your partner about how you want them to handle the situation while respecting their decision to keep drinking.

Plan ahead

If you're worried about your ability to resist a drink when you're out with your partner, planning ahead is crucial, Tang said.

You could do some research to find a bar or restaurant with a few non-alcoholic drink options that you're excited about, such as mocktails or even non-alcoholic spirits or beer. It's about giving yourself an appealing alternative, she said.

"If you have an option that's actually very palatable and very pleasant, and you're going to be able to have that, then it's a lot easier to make that choice," she said.

You can also lean on your partner and ask them to remind you that you've decided on a particular drink, or if you're simply cutting down, ask them to help you keep to a pre-decided limit, she said.

Organize alcohol-free dates

If you want to do more sober socializing, take responsibility and organize something, Tang said.

If your partner is usually the one who arranges dates, and these have tended to include drinking, come up with some fresh ideas and organize a sober activity to do together.

"They might love the change," she said.

It's important to remember that just because you're cutting out alcohol, it doesn't mean everyone else has to, she said, and you definitely shouldn't be imposing your choice on others.

"It's not about expecting other people to kind of adapt to you all the time," she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider