5 Actually Helpful Tips For Dating When You Don't Drink

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When you’re dating as a non-drinker, sometimes you have to think outside the box. After all, it can often seem like everyone on dating apps suggests “meeting over drinks” for a first date, or “hitting a happy hour” after work. And while you could totally join and order something non-alcoholic, there are only so many tonic waters with lime you can stomach before you’re totally over it. Need tips for dating when you don’t drink? The good news is, all it takes is a little creativity in how you approach the dating game.

There are a multitude of reasons someone may choose not to drink alcohol. Maybe you’ve had an experience with addiction in the past, or maybe you’re taking medications that don’t interact well with alcohol. Maybe you simply don’t like the taste, or have chosen to cut back for money or health reasons. All of these scenarios are equally valid, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to sacrifice your social life — or your love life — because you’ve chosen to abstain. Instead, you might just have to be assertive in selecting date activities that don’t involve alcohol.

To get some expert insight on this, I spoke to Ruby Warrington, author of Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol. I also interviewed MJ Gottlieb, creator and CEO of Loosid, a dating app and social platform for the sober community. They both provided expert tips to make your alcohol-free dating life just as fun and vibrant as it is for those who choose to drink. Here’s what to do.

Choose the date location yourself.
Stocksy/Lauren Naefe

If you’re able to suggest the meeting location before your date does, this allows you the freedom to offer up ideas other than bars. “Suggest daytime activities, like getting an ice cream, or checking out a cool store or gallery,” Warrington advises. You can go for a walk through the park, attend a comedy show, share a dessert, or see a movie.

Gottlieb echoes this. “Pick a venue where the central focus is something other than simply drinking,” he tells Elite Daily. “There are so many amazing things to do that don’t involve sitting on a bar stool.” Even if there’s alcohol served at the date venue (say, at a restaurant or comedy club), it’ll be easier for you to avoid it if it doesn’t feel like it’s the main attraction.

If they ask to get drinks, suggest coffee.

This might not be exactly what your date had in mind, but technically, coffee isn’t too far off base from a drinks date. “It's also a ‘drink,’ right?!,” Warrington points out. Coffee dates are ideal because they’re equally as chill as drinks dates, and you can sit and chat for as long (or as short) a time as you’d like.

At a bar, arrive early to order.

Did the bar idea win out for the first date? Don’t fret — you can still have a great time. “Arrive early so you can order your drink before your date arrives,” Warrington suggests. “Then you can ask for the ‘same again’ from your server if you don't want to have the ‘I'm not drinking’ conversation.” This is perfect if you’re not ready to talk with your date about your decision not to drink.

When the subject of drinking comes up, be honest.
Stocksy/Alexey Kuzma

“It's best to be up front about the fact you don't (or just don't want to) drink alcohol,” Warrington tells Elite Daily. If your date asks, tell them honestly that you’re a non-drinker, but don’t feel obligated to go into detail unless you feel comfortable doing so. “If somebody tries to make you feel uncomfortable about not drinking, it's a sign they may be controlling or disrespectful in other ways, too,” Warrington says. “But if their questions are more curious than judgmental, it could be a great way to reveal more about yourselves and get to know each other.”

Gottieb says that confidence is key when it comes to talking about your decision not to drink. “It’s not going to affect their lives one bit,” he assures. “It’s just part of your lifestyle.” When the subject does come up, share as much or as little as you want, and then move on. If this person is right for you, they should think your sober lifestyle is no big deal (and hopefully even respect you for it!).

Find a community of like-minded people.

If you want to avoid the drinking conversation entirely when dating, get involved with a social group of people who also choose to abstain. Digital platforms like Loosid can connect you with other sober people in your area, whether you’re dating or just want to make friends. Gottlieb calls Loosid a “sober directory” of events, ranging from yoga and meditation retreats to cooking classes. All the events are focused on something other than drinking, which makes it super easy for you to live your life without stress.

Ultimately, your decision not to drink shouldn’t detract one bit from your dating life. Sure, it will require some extra effort at times to make sure you’re comfortable, but you can live your best life without alcohol if that’s what you choose to do. And remember, anyone who doesn’t support your lifestyle choices probably isn’t worth your time. So, prioritize your needs and do whatever makes you feel most comfortable, confident, and sexy. Who needs liquid courage when you’re already bold AF without it?

If you or someone you know is seeking help for substance use, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357).

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