Should You Try Sober Dating?

Bad dating habits are sparked by one too many shots at the bar. One minute you are calm and collected then at the end of the night you are holding onto your heels and calling an Uber. Your dates might feel like a broken record of men shoving you into a casual dating box. If this is happening, it might be a good time to try sober dating. Unfortunately, there are some cons to doing so and some sacrifices. I had a sober period for a seven-year stretch or so and had many first dates in brightly lit coffee shops. (A huge con of sober dating is the atmosphere, usually is not romantic enough to set the mood and tone. I would encourage you to at least meet in the evening to create a cozy environment). But regardless of all that, here are some signs you should give yourself a sober dating challenge….

All your first dates end in a hook up….

Liquid courage can take it a little too far and dissolve your boundaries. You are not giving yourself a chance to let him get to know you.

Men only view you as the “fun girl”…..

“The fun girl” is not exactly a compliment coming from men. It is hurtful since you probably have an education you worked hard at and managed to make a decent life for yourself. Yet all he sees is how many shots you can take.

You launch into therapy mode….

Trauma-dumping and spilling the beans is your go-to. It’s hard to recover from what has been said and you can’t unsay it. It’s tempting to go into intense sharing mode and it ruins your greatest power in early dating which is intrigue and mystery.

Your memory is not at its best….

If you happen to get a second date, you probably don’t remember the initial “getting to know you” conversation. He might accuse you of not listening to him and therefore not caring. 

The good vibes shift into bad….

There are different types of drunks. The worst kind will completely shift the vibe and get angry or defensive. You could start fights or get confrontational out of nowhere.

Safety is not your #1 concern….

Staying safe in any regard needs to be a priority on a first date. You don’t know this guy and also you need to consider a safe way to get yourself home. He might take advantage of your helplessness in a dramatic way or mild way, or you put yourself and others in danger by being careless.

Bottom Line…..

At worst, you are becoming reckless with drinking, but even just giving off the wrong impression can be bad. Listen….. not saying you should never have a classy wine date, etc. My point is if you are relating to any of the signs, then it might be a great opportunity to rein it in a little. We all have different stages of casual dating whether we want total abundance or want to be intentional. Personally, for me, the pendulum has swung to taking a hiatus and regrouping after a year of saying yes to anything. January is the perfect time to reflect and decide what is working and what isn’t. I use the whole month to get focused on goals and to set the tone for the rest of the year. Understand what you are dating for. What are your dating goals? Don’t go by society standards and really figure out what type of dating will work best for you. Or maybe it’s a great time to be truly single and not have all the noise of dating to distract you.

Sober Dating

In recent years, I think it’s been popular to choose a mocktail over a boozy drink. Some people choose to be sober for short periods of time such as in “Dry January.” I have experience with being sober and going on Tinder dates. If you have decided to embrace the life of sobriety temporarily or for the long haul, here are some tips to get you by for a date…..

Don’t just meet for coffee- Atmosphere plays a huge role in setting the tone for a date. Bright light is not always your friend in making a first impression.

You can still go to a bar- Unless this is too traumatic then skip it, but if you feel up for it then go. Again it’s all about atmosphere.

Tell a white lie- It’s totally fine to say you have an early meeting the next day so you won’t be drinking. Use this white lie sparingly.

Act alert, stay engaged, be present- This is a tip I would give to any date. You can’t be pouty and zone out. Be an active participant on the date. A boring story will be more boring because there will be no tipsy filter.

Is honesty the best policy with a Tinder date?……

Most people who haven’t tried a sober date will tell you to be honest, but….they have not experienced it firsthand. In a casual Tinder-type date, I would advise you NOT tell your date that you are sober. On the first few dates, it’s none of his business and telling it may open up too personal a story of why you quit drinking. I have tried to be honest and upfront with men in the past and have had bad results. The whole date centered around why I didn’t drink. It felt like an intense interrogation. On top of that, we never got to the “getting to know you” stage of the date because all the focus went to why I wasn’t drinking. Some men need you to be drunk because it takes pressure off them to entertain and impress you. Another reason to not spill the beans is that some men will peer pressure you. Besides all that, most Tinder dates are “one and done” situations and there is no need to go so personal and deep. Obviously, do what it comfortable. Be honest if you feel it’s the right situation. When you go on multiple dates you will get tired of telling people you are sober.

How to fake it….

Again, if this is a casual Tinder date, you can bypass all the questioning by faking it. If you are looking for your next boyfriend and plan on being sober long term, then go for a guy who does not drink or rarely drinks……

Get to the bar before him- Ask the bartender for a seltzer water with a slice of lime. If he puts it in a plastic glass, tell him to put it in a real glass. (Have a chat with him if he is friendly. Let him know you are doing a Dry challenge). Sit down and act natural. If your date asks if you want a refill, say not yet. Wait until he goes to the bathroom and get another one. You can also bring a small can of ginger ale in a large purse. Order yourself a (cheap) bottle of beer before your date arrives. Go to the bathroom and dump the beer down the sink. Replace it with ginger ale, sit back down.

Can you casually date while sober?…..

Honestly, it’s more difficult. Awkward situations will be more awkward and you won’t have any motivation to go out and meet guys at bars. Drinking and first moves go hand in hand. You will realize you only hooked up with guys while you were drunk. It will make you feel like you are back in high school going on your first date ever.

Can a sober person and a drinker work?…..

It’s all about being flexible. He doesn’t have to fully adapt to your lifestyle, although in the same vein, he can’t expect you to close down the bar at 2 a.m. If the situation is temporary, like a Dry January, he needs to make an effort to not drink around you.

What if he says he is sober and you drink?…..

See if he suggests an actual date…..Some men lie and say they are sober to avoid paying for you. Lunch or dinner is acceptable, or taking you to an outdoor art exhibit. He has to work a little harder than meeting for tea. I had a guy one time almost buy my tea (which is $2), but then decided to just share his hot water instead….what a gentleman.

Sober men won’t tolerate a woman who drinks…..

Speaking from experience, he isn’t going to be adaptable. Even if you offer that the bar has coffee or mocktails, he will break the date. This could be for cultural reasons, or he is in early recovery and can’t be tempted.

On the plus side, it might be refreshing to go on a sober date….

Getting drunk on dates over and over leads to bad decisions. When you are sober, you can slow down and really listen to him, while not being tempted to take things further. Yet, it can be nerve-wrecking. I say whatever happens before the date is your business. If you need a glass of wine to chill, your secret is safe with me. Just don’t drink on the actual date. Or… take the plunge and go full sober. You might be surprised how you feel and be proud how brave you were.

Bottom Line……

Even if he is sober, he needs to set up the date. If money is not spent on you, it’s a red flag. Going on different type of date, such as going to play miniature golf, might be out of your comfort zone. There is no harm in pre-gaming, if needed. Obviously, don’t show up slurring your words or stumbling. If you are a regular drinker and he is sober, it’s rare that he will want take things further than a first date.

Drinking can lose it’s appeal when it results in hangovers and calling out of work. As we get older, alcohol takes a toll on our body. It’s pretty normal for people to leave the party scene behind and only go out sparingly. Sometimes, people need to take a break from it. In casual dating this can cause conflict and judgment. It will bring out his insecurity that he has to work harder and put in more effort to impress you. You might want to settle in and get into a stable relationship. Either way, do not let other people derail you from your sobriety. This is a journey that needs supportive friends that will keep you on your path.