Research suggests that millennials are cutting down their alcohol consumption. Instead, they’re opting to participate in wellness events. They recognize that alcohol ages the body and decreases longevity.
Clearly, sobriety is not just a lifestyle choice for those in recovery. Some people choose to be teetotalers or reduce their intake for health reasons. Others opt not to drink in accordance with religious beliefs. These individuals go on alcohol-free dates and usually have a grand old time.
Drinking is definitely not a requirement for a successful romantic outing. It can be an ice-breaker, yes. But there are plenty of other ways to lighten the mood and keep it that way – no hangovers here! Read on for our take on sober dating and our favorite date ideas that don’t involve alcohol.
RETHINK THE WORD DRINK
Most alcohol and drug treatment programs recommend taking a year off from dating. This is to ensure that the focus remains on recovery; and that using a substance to feel better isn’t replaced with using people. If you’re ready to start dating again, you might be concerned about ‘safe’ spaces and date night ideas.
When sober dating, ‘let’s go out for drinks’ can become ‘let’s go out for coffee’. Many cafes are open at night. You just need to compile a list of relevant places with different vibes and have it on standby. That way, when the opportunity arises, you can pick one your date might like and you’re good to go.
Coffee has caffeine so you can get a nice, totally safe buzz from this shared ritual. Day-time dates increase your options too. Juice bars are all the rage and for good reason. Smoothies are packed with nutrients and they’re yummy to boot.
If, however, you’ve been in the sober game for a while, you might be fine with places that serve alcohol. This opens up more potential watering holes. It also accommodates your date if they happen to enjoy the occasional sundowner.
Restaurants have figured out that replacing the word mocktail with spirit-free lends these drinks a certain grown-up sophistication. This change in mindset is why sober bars, dry raves and booze-free happy hours exist.
But if you don’t know any near you, look for pubs and clubs that serve non-alcoholic drinks you actually like the taste of. Go crazy for temperance cocktails – virgin mojitos, daiquiris and Shirley Temples. Or better yet, give the sodas a pass and develop a taste for water with lemon. The latter will go as easy on your pocket as it will on your liver.
CLAP FOR THE APPS
Tinder and alcohol might seem like a natural fit. But dating apps are what you make of them. When you include your preferences in your profile, mention your avoidance of drinking. You don’t need to give strangers your whole background if you’re not yet comfortable doing so. A simple ‘I prefer not to drink’ will often work just fine.
Of course, there are also sober dating apps. We can assume at least some proportion of these app-users are in recovery. Those who are at an advanced stage of recovery can help your cause. But there’s also a risk of relapse associated with dating former alcoholics. It’s up to you, and possibly a trusted counselor, to decide whether this is something you’re mentally and physically ready to navigate.
Your date’s personality shines through clearly when you’re not perceiving them through beer goggles and sensors. Even if you’re casually dating, personality and connection can be the difference between an okay night and a great one. Without alcohol-fueled haziness, you are more able to bring your present, authentic self to dates. Trust us, that’s a good thing!
You have a lot to offer and when you’re sober you can have a safe fun time. In addition to eliminating the shame around drunk sex, sober dates enable participants to be aware enough to give consent.
FUN SOBER DATE IDEAS
Now that we’ve highlighted the benefits of sober dating and covered the conventional sit-down places you could take a date, here’s a list of sober adventures you can go on. With good company, you’re sure to have a blast.
Museums are some of the most budget-friendly places to go to. Many are free so you could realistically fill a whole evening with stuff to do without feeling ripped off. If you’re the curious type and your date is always asking questions like, ‘what is below earth in space?’, then museums and art galleries are the places to go.
All this education could set you up nicely for a second date at a trivia night. And the best part? If you’re both bored to death with the exhibits, you can just leave guilt-free. Be sure to check opening hours before you finalize your plans.
Sweat it Out
If being active is a part of your lifestyle and something you could have in common with a date, then take the flirting outside. From sunset beach runs to rock climbs and leisurely hikes, picnic your way from one easy workout to the next. A bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone.
Up the ante and really get the adrenaline flowing with a bungee jump or skydive. Free-falling together has to be one of the most nail-biting ways to bond with someone. But you can’t deny, there’s a certain charm to hugging your way out of a plane. And with all this excitement, alcohol will be the last thing on your mind.
For those not keen on jumping out of a moving aircraft, there’s always the trusty rollercoaster. Indulge your inner child at a carnival or theme park. Eat snow-cones, play innocent arcade games and wield sparklers while holding hands. There’s nothing like old-fashioned, wholesome fun to put a smile on the most jaded of faces. Sweeten the deal with a candy-floss kiss.
Being passionate about food can provide so many avenues for exploration. There are weekend markets with heaps of delicious fresh produce just waiting to be tasted. If you and your date are going steady and you live in a big city, there might be a Michelin restaurant experience in a few months’ time.
You could also go fruit-picking and make jams with your haul, or go for an olive or cheese tasting and learn all about farming, farm-to-table eateries and the slow movement. Sign up for cooking classes and take your culinary knowledge to the next level together.
Shows and Concerts
Humor is sexy and belly-laughs are one of life’s great pleasures. If you’re struggling with sober date ideas, look no further than a stand-up comedy arena show. Stand-up gigs in dive bars might deliver on the funny, but they’re usually filled with drunk people. If you’re in recovery, you might prefer the cleaner, dryer setting of a theatre and a stage big enough for the likes of Amy Schumer and Trevor Noah.
Stand-up is not for everybody though. If the idea of a play or music concert appeals to you more, then find shows with good reviews. Look for tour dates for artists you and your significant other both love. Grab a pair of tickets and prepare for a care-free night of entertainment.
A shared love of animals can bring couples closer together. As above-board as an aquarium or zoo may seem, the ethics of keeping animals in captivity might put you off. Luckily, almost every town has shelters and SPCAs. Puppy cuddles release dopamine. A morning of tumbling around with cute abandoned cats and dogs will certainly spread the love around. The only question is when you and your date will be ready to adopt a bundle of fur…
Volunteering with humans has its moments too. Recovering addicts know a thing or two about struggling. That places them in a unique position to empathize with others who are having a tough time. Helping to brighten the day of vulnerable members of your community is priceless. Doing it with someone you have feelings for makes it that much more meaningful.
We know, we know. Karaoke bars are a favorite haunt of the tipsy. But if you’re in a good space, there’s nothing quite so stress-relieving as a super loud sing-along session. Sure, your eardrums will wish they could go back in time. But the rest of you will thoroughly enjoy the present. Belting pop songs at the top of your voice should be on every couple’s to-do list. After all, this is the stuff inside jokes are made of.
Ping Pong, Mini Golf, Bowling and Ice Skating
Four activities that demand coordination. Four activities you can only do if you’ve abstained from drinking and drugs. Go on a weeknight and avoid the dozens of scampering children that frequent putt-putt courses, bowling alleys and neon rinks on the weekends. You and your date can cheer each other on and unveil hidden talents. Most importantly, you can have harmless fun and make awesome memories.