A guide to drink-free dating
Millie Gooch, founder of Sober Girl Society, tells us “why going on a date without drinking is the best decision you can make as a singleton” and shares her six tips on how to navigate one without alcohol.
If you ask any human being what their most terrifying dating scenario would be, I could almost guarantee that ‘one without alcohol’ would crop up.
See – like dancing – dating seems to be another area where we’ve weaved in this peculiar narrative that you couldn’t possibly do either without a few drinks in your system first.
But what if I told you that you could. And, not just that, what if I told you that dating someone without a drink in hand, is the best decision that you’ll ever make?
Dating without drinking is guaranteed to save you both time and money.
Alcohol can quite literally create a spark where there really shouldn’t be one. You’ll know this if you have ever been on a date with someone and assumed that they are your soul mate, only to meet them sober a few days later when you realise that you have absolutely nothing in common.
Not drinking means that you will know straight away whether you actually have a connection with someone and therefore you won’t waste your time dating people who aren’t right for you.
Plus, whether you’re going Dutch or forking out for the whole thing, cocktails still come with a price tag. So, if you’re up for flirting but feeling the pinch in your finances, then not drinking can really help your cause.
You might already know these benefits – what a lot of people struggle with is how to actually go on a date and not drink. So, from personal experience, here are my top five tips for sober dating.
- Make use of the apps
If you’re single, swiping and sober curious, a lot of the apps have tools that you can utilise. Some apps let you display on your profile whether you drink or not, meaning you don’t even have to bring it into conversation and some apps will let you filter to see if anyone else is also a non-drinker.
- Choose an activity
Even if you you’re drinking, the thought of sitting opposite someone, trying to rack your brain for questions that straddle interesting-but-not-too-personal can feel a little daunting. Doing something a bit more interactive can ease the pressure. Mini golf, bowling or (if you’re both adventurous and trusting) axe-throwing all make fun dates where the expectation to drink isn’t high or isn’t the main focus of the date. If you’re not into sporty activities then why not try a board game café or going to an art gallery – there’s so many other things to do.
- Take the lead on venue
Don’t be afraid to be the one to suggest the setting. There is nothing is more disappointing than ending up at bar or restaurant where your only drink options are coke or water. If you know somewhere that does great mocktails or stocks your favourite alcohol-free wine, suggest it.
- Tell them ahead of time
Most people will be more chill about you not drinking than you think, but in the rare instance that someone doesn’t ‘get it’, it’s best to tell them in advance to save both of you some time. Plus, it means you can go into the date without worrying about how you’re going to bring it up or how you should react when they offer to buy you a drink. You can put that you’re not drinking on your profile or you can tell them directly. You don’t need to tell them whether not drinking is a long term choice or not, you can always just say “I’m taking a break at the moment”, whatever you feel comfortable with.
- Don’t make associations
If the date is a disaster, don’t assume it’s because you didn’t drink – it’s because it was a bad date! Natural and effortless connections are made whether you’re drinking or not so if it feels forced, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that it’s got nothing do with how much alcohol you’ve had.
- Put yourself out there
You’ve got to be in it to win it! Although it might seem scary, dating sober does get easier the more you do it so don’t let it hold you back. Set clear boundaries with your dates, let them know you’re not drinking and once that first one is done, the next one will seem much less daunting.
Millie is a writer, public speaker and founder of Sober Girl Society.