Whether you’re in a long term relationship, have just met someone new, or are looking for that special someone, being alcohol-free could make you a better partner.

Relationships can be complicated, right? Two independent people meeting, blending their lives as a team, and bringing their own thoughts, feelings and needs into the mix. Navigating any relationship (romantic or otherwise) has its challenges, but when you choose to spend the rest of your life with someone, there’s even more time and emotional investment. It needs patience, understanding, compassion, and attention. And that’s difficult if your focus is elsewhere.

Is alcohol the third party in your relationship?

Considering how much alcohol is woven into our social lives, it’s not surprising that so many first dates involve drinking. In fact, a survey of 1,000 people in the USA revealed that 86% of respondents drank on their first date, with a further 37% starting before the date, with a drink to steady their nerves.

This continues in the early days of a relationship, too. Whether it’s a candlelit dinner, ten-pin bowling, cinema trip, or a romantic picnic, alcohol is a feature for lots of couples as they get to know each other (never mind the straightforward meet-at-a-bar date). And for many there’s no problem with this—but for some, cracks can begin to show when one half of the relationship gets uncomfortable with how they or their other half drinks.

Howard Forman MD, addiction psychiatrist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has suggested that alcohol can often become the third party in a relationship. It can take up a lot of time, energy and emotional bandwidth that should be going into the relationship, and if couples aren’t openly communicating how they feel about alcohol’s role, then distance can easily develop between them.

Time for a change?

It might be time to think about reducing your alcohol intake or taking a break from drinking, if one or more of the following issues crop up: 

More conflict

Any cause of repeated conflict in a relationship can create strain and pressure on both sides. If alcohol is the problem, you might find…

  • More arguments while under the influence
  • Clashing views on the subject
  • Frustration over hangovers
  • Disagreements on other negative side effects of drinking

No other hobbies

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink with your partner; let’s get that straight. But if all your free time together is spent drinking, you’re probably not connecting in an authentic way. Do you have any other hobbies you like to do together, which don’t involve drinking? After all, life is about balance!

Health concerns

Of course, one of the biggest reasons for taking a break from alcohol is to improve your health. Since presumably you and your partner want the other around for as long as possible, it’s in your best interests as a couple to look after yourselves and each other. If alcohol has started to cause problems with your health, or you’re worried about your SO’s health, then looking at ways to reduce your alcohol intake together could be a great place to start. 

Be the best version of yourself

There are so many benefits that come from a break from drinking; not only would it help with any of the issues we’ve talked about here, but our members have also reported significantly less anxiety, improved sleep, and increased productivity—generally they feel they’re happier people. 

There’s a saying that ‘you can’t fill a cup from an empty jug,’ and it applies here perfectly. If you remove drinking from the equation—something that takes up a lot of time, energy, and focus, with hangovers leaving you exhausted and inattentive—and instead invest in your wellbeing, and the wellbeing of your relationship, then naturally the relationship will flourish. Not to say that going alcohol-free solves all relationship problems, but it does leave your mind clear to be able to focus on your partner’s needs and wants, and what’s right for the relationship.

Don’t take our word for it!

Countless members have reported improvements in their relationships after taking a break from drinking. Chanelle took the 90-day challenge:

“My relationship has improved because we don’t bicker about silly things any more, and are much more mindful about everything. We spend more time with the kids and doing the little things in the evening now, like going out and getting ice-cream after dinner. I truly believe that without the tools and resources from OYNB, this journey would have been very difficult and I probably would have caved in. My life has completely changed!”

Live your life better

If you’re ready to explore taking a break from drinking, or you’d like to change your habits around alcohol, download our free video series outlining four of the best mindset hacks to improve your relationship with alcohol. 


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