First dates can conjure up all kinds of feelings. From being unbelievable excited to feeling nervous and uncertain, these dating anxieties are only compounded by a dater’s decision to stay sober. However, this needn’t be the case; you can have a great time on your first while being totally alcohol-free.
Dating When Alcohol-Free
We live in a culture that normalizes drinking to the point that most daters dread the idea of a first date without alcohol. While pairing alcohol and romance may be the norm in the dating world, you can create a new normal for yourself and your dates by using the following strategies:
Figure out What You’re Looking For
Avoid going into a date unprepared. Decide what characteristics your ideal date will have beforehand. Do you want to steer clear of anyone that drinks alcohol and only date other sober people? Could you care less if your date drinks? Whatever your choice, make sure you decide before actually going on the date.
Depending on where you are in your sobriety, you may find yourself more comfortable with someone that understands your abstinence. This is why many people in recovery find it less challenging to date someone that is completely sober or drinks rather infrequently.
Only Share What You are Comfortable Revealing
When dating, the goal is to find someone that will respect your sobriety. However, only reveal as much as you feel comfortable sharing. While honesty is definitely the best policy, since it is a first date, you may want to keep your cards close to the chest.
Even if you are usually very open about being sober, you may fear your first date will be judgmental. In a perfect world, potential dates would always be understanding of your decision to not drink. However, telling others that you’re abstaining from alcohol can put them on edge.
Since alcohol is almost an expectation in the dating world, finding out that a date isn’t drinking can be off-putting to the person that is drinking. For this reason, you may find that you want to avoid drawing attention to your sobriety at all. If that means ordering a virgin drink and letting your date assume it’s just another cocktail, then that’s fine as well.
Have Your Go-To Drinks in Mind
With all the butterflies and nervousness that typically surrounds first dates, it’s best to have a clear idea of what you will be drinking on the date. Even though you are abstaining from alcohol, it is handy to have something other than water to sip on throughout the night. Whether you ask for an Arnold Palmer or order a sparkling water, making the decision beforehand will take a lot of the pressure off.
Get Creative When Suggesting the Date
While the most common idea for a date is “drinks and dinner”, it is one of the most unimaginative. When suggesting an idea for a date, take the initiative to choose something that is completely alcohol free. Opt for coffee, dog walking, hiking, bowling, etc. The key is to find an activity that allows you to get to know the other person without cornering you into a situation where there is nothing else to do but drink.
If You Feel Pressured, Call it a Night
Being alcohol-free is your choice, no one else’s. While some people may react differently to your choice to stay sober, you should never feel pressured. If your date makes you feel uncomfortable for abstaining, it’s best to call it a night.
Dating comes with its own set of expectations. Drinking alcohol shouldn’t be one of them. Use these five strategies to help you on your next first date.