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Coworker is pushing me to go drinking with her, but I generally abstain from alcohol. She's higher up than me in the "food chain", so to speak, and is great friends with my boss.

I'm not sure how to go about this. I generally stay away from alcohol since alcohol has some bad memories of some relatives. In any case, what is the most polite way of turning down a drink? I've tried just saying "No" or "I'll think about it" but almost every day she is asking me to have a drink.

What is the best way to approach this? I want to give a firm answer that won't have her leaving follow-ups a few days later.

marked as duplicate by gnat, scaaahu, yochannah, jcmeloni, IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 23 '15 at 19:01

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    Do you want to avoid consuming alcohol in a social setting, or do you simply don't want to go out socially with her? The answer depends on that IMHO – TCSGrad Jun 20 '15 at 1:11
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    Is this a group event? This may be more about you and her than about the drink. I'm getting a weird vibe from this post. – Wesley Long Jun 20 '15 at 4:20
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    I have a coworker that doesn't drink alcohol, but he still comes out drinking with us but drinks non-alcoholic drinks. He even trades rounds of drinks despite the fact that his drinks cost a fraction the cost of an alcoholic drink -- he's there for the socializing, not the alcohol, and no one questions or even cares that he's not drinking alcohol. – Johnny Jun 20 '15 at 4:50
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    Suppose the problem isn't the drinking per se, but the "going out"? I know that after working inside all day, hanging out in a bar after work is way down the list of things I want to do. – jamesqf Jun 20 '15 at 19:40
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    @WesleyLong So then it's not just me: in the first sentence it seems as if Coworker is hitting on OP, yet OP only seems to want answers regarding refraining from settings where alcohol is consumed, and the answers only describe you can also go out but order a soft-drink instead... – Edwin Lambregts Jun 22 '15 at 10:13
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You can go with her without having an alcoholic drink.

If she offers you alcohol, simply say "sorry, I won't touch alcohol if I'm driving" (assuming you're driving) or you can go with a very simple "I appreciate the offer, but I don't drink" and order something non-alcoholic.

If the issue is that you don't want to go out in a social situation with her, just keep saying no, or tell her you have plans immediately after work which can't change - have to give someone a ride, or do some shopping, take care of a friend/family member, tend to pets, etc.

almost every day she is asking me to have a drink

This borders on harassing behavior. "No, thank you" should be a sufficient response. Do not tell her "I'll think about it" because that leaves the door open to a near-future "yes" answer.

Is it possible that she has a drinking problem herself, if she's going out for drinks nearly daily?

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"Thanks, I'll have an orange juice. " Or soda if you drink soda, or coffee, or... Social drinking does not require that you consume alcohol. I just don't like the taste of most alcoholic drinks, but "not in the mood for it" or "I prefer caffeine/sugar rush to alcohol" .. or indeed no explanation at all, are fully legitimate responses. Very few over the age of 20 will care what you're drinking, except for noticing that your drink costs them a lot less than they had expected.

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I state that I do a terrible job holding alcohol and that, given that I lose all inhibitions when I start drinking, it's best for me that I don't drink. I have yet to hear anyone challenging me on my refusal on take a drink, and I have been on this Earth for a few more decades than I am willing to admit. On the other hand, I drink tea, coffee and soda like a fish :)

  • That probably depends on local customes. I always have to explain that I don't drink alcohol, and why. And after that I have the feeling that half the people believe that I had a drinking problem in the past. (I haven't) – Diego Sánchez Jun 21 '15 at 8:44
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    @DiegoSanchez The only reason that I don't have a drinking problem is that I didn't create one for myself. My health comes first, and I am totally unembarrassed and unapologetic about that. I hope that someone that I don't know was inspired to follow my example, put their foot down and said "No" :) Nobody's loved ones need one more alcoholic in the family. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jun 21 '15 at 9:48

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