Dating sober: how to do it

So it’s friday night and you get a text from the guy/girl you’ve recently given your number to. ‘Would u like to go out for a drink’ asks your charming suitor. But you’re not so sure. You’d love to hang out with him/her, but you’re now questioning whether this drinking and dating business is all it’s sought out to be. Maybe you don’t drink at all. Or maybe you are just taking a booze break for the moment.

Where to go from here?

Dating without drinking is hard. How do you quell the pre-date jitters that will inevitably encroach? What if your date is a drinker and feels uncomfortable? We’ve considered these issues and have a few pointers about how you can date sober, and have a great time while you’re at it.

Dating without alcohol

1. How to meet people when you’re dating sober? 

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Short answer: Tinder

Let’s be honest, Tinder has changed the way we date forever. The simple fact that you don’t need to ‘head out’ to meet people, cramped in a musty, boisterous bar, is game changing. And we’re not the only ones interested in the cultural phenomenon that is Tinder. The app is now so firmly embedded in the zeitgeist that there is both a song dedicated to it and a film being written about it.  And if Tinder is not your flavour, there’s, okcupid, Happn and a plethora of other matchmaking technologies to try out. As superficial or awkward it might feel at first, these dating apps provide you a chance to meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise come across, say, at a bar. As this blog describes, Tinder presents a microcosm of what happens in the real offline dating world.

But honestly, almost anywhere else

Have you ever eyed someone that strikes your fancy while in line at the grocery store? Or when you’re on the train or at the gym. The thing is, when you start dating without alcohol you realise that you’re almost always on your A-game. Yes, it takes guts. But you’ve got them! Just go for it.

2. What to do on a date besides go out for drinks?

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While the default date might be drinks, there are actually a ton of other options to consider. The classic alternatives are of course coffee/dinner dates. Good standard date fare, you know more or less what to expect. But if you want to think outside the box, some options could include a visit to the museum, hiking, a peruse at the farmers markets or live music. Another good idea is to check out if there is anything interesting happening in your town like sporting events or film festivals.

Another date activity which seems to be gaining a bit of popularity is the active date. Whether it is rock climbing or dancing that tickles your fancy, active dates bring the goods by helping you get to know each other better. Plus there might be some advantages to getting your heart rate up when you’re courting as per the Misattribution theory of arousal. The idea is that your brain mistakenly attributes your increased heart rate to the physiological responses elicited by the body’s erm…arousal response, and as a result, both of you are more likely to find each other attractive.

3. How to deal with date nerves when you’re not drinking?


Who doesn’t feel jittery before an exciting rendezvous? Not using alcohol to quell these nerves can feel daunting. A couple of things you can give a whirl instead:  


This may seem obvious but it is easier said than done. Figure out what works for you. Write or talk about your anxiety, maybe call a friend. Take a few deep breaths and try to get out of your own head.

Be comfortable

Wear what makes you feel the most comfortable (although maybe cover the basics like wearing shoes and having a shower) and schedule at a time that actually works for you. Some people like heading out straight after work so they don’t have time to dwell on their jitters, whereas others like to have some time to themselves beforehand.

Nerves can be good!

Your nerves could very well be indicating that there is something there. That is, chemistry. Alcohol typically dulls our sensory and emotional experience so without it we’re open to the raucous disarray of emotions that warp us when we’re under the spell of a potential new love. Of course, that doesn’t make the experience any easier, but try to reframe the experience in a way that embraces these jitters!

Go in with an open mind

Your date will probably be just as nervous as you. Plus, remember that you can’t control everything, it’s probable that throughout your lifetime you’ll have to sit through the good the bad and the ugly when it comes to dating. And the best part is that you’ll be learning about yourself all the way through . Of course that’s not to say it will go poorly! So maybe just imagine you’re going to see a mate to have a fun evening and approach the experience with an open mind.

4. How to date drinkers when you’re dating sober?

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First of all, consider why you are dating this person in the first place? If you have similar interests or values, then whether or not you’re drinking likely won’t be a concern. But it can feel uncomfortable at first. Try to consider it from their point of view too. What is it like for them to date someone who isn’t drinking?

At the end of the day, if your date is not comfortable with you declining a drink, you may want to reconsider whether you really want to spend time with them. Because, what dating sober does, is allow you the clarity of mind and sensory sensitivity to more realistically perceive the chemistry between you.

Plus if you’re in the early stages of seeing someone, know that, while it helps to be honest, you don’t owe anyone your life story or the reasons why you’re not having a drink.
And on top of all of that, you may actually open their eyes to a world of non-alcohol related possibilities. They might just love you for that.

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