‘Do you want a drink while you’re getting ready?’
Vodka and lemonade with three ice cubes – my go-to pre-drink before meeting someone new. I would love to tell you I sip a more sophisticated, elegant poison. A glass of wine, prosecco, a French martini. Vodka knows how to calm my nerves and bring out my bolder alter-ego. I, like many of us, rely on drinking to feel at ease. But as the dry dating trend sweeps in, is it time we give up alcohol on dates?
According to Bumble, many of us have changed our relationship with alcohol since the pandemic. 34% of people using the dating app say, ‘they’re more likely to go on a “dry date” now than pre-Covid’. The app also found that ‘62% of the population believe that they are more likely to form deeper and more genuine connections if they date without alcohol’.
Research shows young people are overall drinking less – alcohol has been on the decline since the mid-2000s. Gone are the days on Facebook when you purposely posted your drunk pics. Instagram’s perfect aesthetic caters to a small glass of wine and an interesting cocktail.
Unlike my peers, I haven’t waved goodbye to liquor. If anything, my relationship has reignited my love affair with drink – which makes me sound like an alcoholic. To be clear, I’m not someone who sits at home with a bottle and downs booze in the same way Victoria Beckham gulps green smoothies. I like a glass or two on a sunny evening, when I’m in an unfamiliar social setting, and when I’m in the early dating stages.
How do you date if you don’t drink?
One of my friend’s doesn’t drink – he stopped in his mid-twenties after too many bad experiences. Although I admire his decision, I can’t picture myself doing the same.
Sobriety is as much a social faux pas as telling people you’re vegan. Some will respect your decision – many will deem you ‘boring’ and ‘difficult’ – I know from experience. Since being with my boyfriend, we’ve encountered various situations where booze has been the glue to an evening.
That’s how I’ve spent my dating life. Going on dates where alcohol was front and centre – a necessary in the same way many won’t go on a picnic without sun. Whether a restaurant, pub, bar, comedy night or even playing mini golf, alcohol has appeared during my dates, and I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing.
According to The Guardian, studies show ‘there are social and wellbeing benefits to be derived directly from drinking alcohol.’ We’ve been social drinking for thousands of years – our ancestors knew a good drink is an easy way to let your guard down, relax, and feel more confident.
On a first date or in the early dating stages, we open ourselves up to strangers. Chatting to someone you barely know to see if they’re eligible to become your partner is nerve-wracking (to say the least) – a drink can make a first date feel smoother.
In 2016, biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher, told The Washington Post that drinking helps to show ‘more of who you are’ and makes you ‘more social’ – things we need to break down the awkwardness of what dating is.
I show much more of my ‘true’ persona when I order a vodka or some random white wine that’s mid-price on a menu. My insecurities simmer, my laughter boils out and my confidence stays hot – should I depend on a ‘depressant’ to create such results?
The benefits we could gain if we decide to give up alcohol on dates
Despite my hesitancy, I recognise alcohol can be used as a clutch (to relax and be more ‘socially pleasing’) but in releasing that clutch, perhaps we can find freedom.
I asked my sober friend what the benefits are from not drinking on dates. He said:
‘You’re more likely in control of your own situation
You can show your date you can be fun without drinking
You’re less likely to saying something embarrassing
You don’t smell of alcohol
Not drinking shows you are confident in yourself
You’re more likely to keep on track of conversation
You can talk about your love of wine (if you do usually drink) without coming across as an alcoholic.’
It’s healthier, potentially safer, and less expensive, plus you won’t wake up with a hangover and you’re less likely to have and regret sex. Crucially, not drinking encourages you to rely completely on yourself. An article on Hypebae says relying on alcohol ‘to make dates flow smoother… is actually a sign of anxiety’.
Without drink, you’re forced to sit through the awkwardness – your shyness, self-doubts. It arguably helps real intimacy form.
Part of me believes it’s sometimes the simple act of having a drink that makes you feel better. On mine and my boyfriend’s first date, we sat outside drinking Pinot Grigio. But it was several hours before I felt tipsy – most of our date was had while sober.
Overall, I like an experiment. If you’re someone who can’t imagine a date without a drink, why not give it a try? You may start experiencing more meaningful dates. As a general belief however, providing you don’t respond badly to drink or have a history of dates going bad whilst drunk, it’s not the worst thing in the world to have some alcohol to help you unwind.
How to give up alcohol on dates
If you would like to try dry dating, here are some tips to consider:
Before a date, let them know you’re not drinking – you don’t have to make a long speech or try to justify yourself, just let them know in advance. Otherwise, you may nervously blurt it out or in the lead up to the date, worry about how they’ll respond.
Take drinking out of the mix – Of course you can go to a pub or a bar without drinking alcohol, but it may help in the beginning to go somewhere that’s non-alcohol related. Rather than a 7pm date, you may want to try a 12pm coffee date or a 1pm cake shop with a walk in the park. Or, you could try an evening class such as a Tea Mixology Workshop.
Make sure you’re in a positive mindset – alcohol often makes us happier. Without this substance, we must focus more on creating good energy by ourselves. Leave plenty of time so you’re not stressed about travel, wear an outfit that makes you feel amazing, put together some conservational topics to bring up.
Get comfortable not drinking with friends – If you usually have a drink with friends on a night out, try to enjoy mocktails – see what it’s like. This may make you feel more comfortable.
What are your views? Should we embrace dry dating or continue to pour our glasses? Could you give up alcohol on dates?
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