With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it got us thinking about how navigating the sober dating seas can be a bit of a rough ride. Do you announce your sobriety before you’ve ever met? Or do you leave it to be revealed on the night? And how do you handle those nerves? Dating and sex are a huge part of life. And they can be really vulnerable places! But we want to show that you can go out there sober(er) with confidence.
The benefits of sober dating
The idea of going out on a date without the comforting blanket of alcohol to boost your confidence can seem intimidating. In fact, in a survey by Match.com, 73% of respondents said that alcohol made it easier for them to date. A few glasses of wine may feel like it’s getting the conversation going, and make most dates seem more interesting and attractive than they actually are. However, when you’re going out with someone for the first time, it’s a good idea to keep a clear head. Sure, you want to make the best possible impression, but you also want to make accurate judgments about your date as well. Drinking too much alcohol does affect that.
Likewise, you may think that the drunk you is confident and charming but really, the drunk you is just… drunk. And guess what? It is ok to be a little nervous on a first date.
You can actually rely on your judgment, and you’re less likely to make a complete arse of yourself. If you know you’re going to have to stick it out sober, you’re also more likely to hold out for dates with people you feel an actual connection with. And if it does not go to plan, and you’re stuck making sober small talk about woodworking (not an innuendo) for the next two hours? You’ve trusted your gut and your sober self, and chosen to go home with the best date ever – yourself.
Being honest and upfront about your (non-) drinking means that you’ll also weed out all the people who just cannot deal with an alcohol-free evening. Ultimately, it’s going to be more helpful for you to date someone who understands and supports your drinking goals.
What about the sex?
In any scenario, having sex with someone new can be scary – sober or not. And sure, it can seem a lot easier to skip the awkwardness when you’re a little drunk, but on the other hand, it can make sex worse. On a purely physical level, alcohol screws with your sexual function. It also doesn’t do wonders for your coordination, which can be a problem for the notably clumsy and absent-minded.
Alcohol is also increasing your chances of hooking up with someone you aren’t actually that interested in. Or ending up with an STD. You can still hook up sober, but you’re less likely to forget to practice safe sex.
On the whole, it might be worth dealing with a little awkwardness. You’ll end up with a better sense of whether or not you’re actually sexually compatible, and some of our members have said they actually prefer sober sex because they feel more ‘present’. And, believe me, no one is going to scream at the sight of your naked body. If they are getting into bed with you they are already attracted to you. So don’t freak out more than necessary.
I’m not saying not drinking guarantees good sex, but then neither does drinking so much that you pass out. Part of being sober is learning to deal with a little discomfort – and what better practice than sober dating?
Tips on sober dating and how it’s done
Sober dating is a great chance to skip the boring ‘let’s meet for a drink’ routine, and try something a bit more interesting. I have a friend who takes first dates climbing because he thinks it’s a good test of character.
If you really do just want to sit and chat for a couple of hours, meet for coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Club Soda expert Harriet recently went on a coffee date on a Thursday morning! So you see, nothing says that you have to stick to the post-work scenario. If you’re worried about what you will chat about for two hours, then do something first and then get a coffee. Go to a museum or an art gallery, watch a movie. Something to get the conversation rolling. It also means that if you already know that your date is going nowhere, you can bail out after the interesting activity.
If you do need an evening date, explore bars that have a great range of mocktails. This article from the Independent lists bars in London that have some mouthwatering looking mocktails that would turn a drinker green with envy.
We’ve even compiled a list of quirky dates we’ve tried and tested, or are on our wishlist:
- Tea tasting – You could try visiting Club Soda favourites Tea Studio
- Harry Potter tour – or any other weird walking tour you can find
- Theme park
- Ghost tour – this will get your heart racing one way or another
- Pick a class you are interested in – cooking, pottery, that weird chess boxing thing I keep hearing about
- Kew gardens or any pretty garden or country house near you
- Country walks, blackberrying, a “pick your own” strawberry farm, or raspberries, or whatever. If it goes badly at least you get jam out of it
- Picnic in a park.
- Afternoon tea – they are available without the champagne too
- Stargazing observatory – pick the night of a meteor shower or book a trip to the Royal Observatory
- Salsa – or line dancing or ceilidh, or your choice of dance venue. Having to concentrate on the steps will make you glad you’re not drinking
- Ballet, opera, theatre, musical, there’s always something going on
- And the classic cinema date!
- Boats – hire a rowing boat and set to the water. This might be a second or third date thing, just in case you really have nothing to say to each other…
If you don’t feel sure about dating someone who might be drinking, you can find platforms like Tea Total Dating which specialise in sober dating.
Coming out as sober(er)
A thing that often comes up in the Club Soda community is how forthcoming you have to be about your choice not to drink alcohol or to drink less than most? On the one hand, do you announce it as part of your online dating profile in order to weed out those who would just not be accepting of that? Or do you want until you meet on your first date? There’s no one answer, and ultimately your dating profile should be true to your identity, and only you know where drinking fits into that.
If you’re really nervous before the date, have a bath or a massage, chat with a friend or go for a run. All of these activities should get you in a positive frame of mind for the date ahead. When you get home at the end of the night, try and think of three positive things you learned from the date. Even if it was terrible, you might have learned to never go to that restaurant again, that you can get through 4 hours sober, or that you have a fantastic funny sober dating story to share with your friends. A bad date is not the end of the world, but a learning experience to help you with the next (better) date.