Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and it got me thinking about sobriety and relationships.
Whether it’s date night with your partner or a first date with someone new, the idea of doing that stuff sober can feel a bit intimidating to start with. But please – don’t let nerves put you off.
Over the years, I’ve carried out a fair bit of research in this area (a tough job, but someone had to do it) and I’m happy to share my findings with you: sober dates rock.
Whether you’re navigating the online dating world or sharing a romantic meal with a long term partner, you’ll have a MUCH better time alcohol-free. Here’s why:
1. You’ll have a better sense of connection
The idea that alcohol helps people to bond is a big old myth. Booze numbs the brain’s ability to process information from its senses, making it hard to be truly present and connected to someone else.
Next time you’re out, keep an eye on the couples who’re drinking a lot. Eavesdrop on the drunken conversations. They tend to involve a lot of talk, but very little connection or engagement. Alcohol makes drinkers more likely to withdraw into their own world.
Look out for the fights too. If alcohol was the magic, romantic joy juice it’s marketed as, why would so many couples get into drunken arguments?
2. You’ll have more fun – and more options – sober
If you’re only interested in doing things that involve drinking, it really limits what you can do. You’re pretty much stuck with the age old drinks-in-the-pub routine or a boozy restaurant meal. When you’re not focused on drinking, you can do so much more.
For example: a dancing class, comedy show, walking, tea tasting, a ghost tour, cinema trip, bowling, ice skating, art gallery visit, coffee, crazy golf, a picnic or enjoying a shared hobby.
Whether you’re going out with someone new or someone you’ve been with for years, dates are really just about spending quality time with that person. If you can have fun without alcohol, you know you’re on the right track.
3. You’ll be more interesting (and so will your date)
There is nothing more tedious than someone who’s drunk and repetitive but thinks they’re hot and hilarious. We’ve probably all been that person at some point and it is AWKWARD!
Interesting people tend to be the ones asking questions, listening to the person they’re with and paying attention to what’s being said. They’re engaged, present and connected.
Think of it this way – if you’re with someone you genuinely like, you shouldn’t need to consume a mind-altering drug in order to tolerate their company.
4. You’ll have fewer facepalm moments the morning after
You know that sickly feeling when you wake up and remember what you said or did the night before? That rarely happens when you’re sober.
The chances of you picking a stupid fight – or doing something you hate yourself for the next day – all drop significantly when you’re in full control of yourself.
5. It’ll sky-rocket your confidence
There’s nothing like coming home and knowing that you genuinely had a good time, that you were yourself and you weren’t trying to chemically alter the situation in any way. Experiences like that make you feel really good about yourself.
If you’re dating someone new, there might be awkward moments, but so what? Dating is awkward, whether you’re sober or not.
6. Sober sex is way better
Shakespeare was right when he said that alcohol “increases the desire, but takes away the performance”. If you’re over the limit for driving, you’re probably over the limit for great sex.
Alcohol numbs your feelings, screws up your sexual function and doesn’t exactly help your coordination either!
And seriously – if you’re dating, doing it sober means you’re far less likely to have an encounter you’ll later regret.
7. You can weed out the weirdos faster
When you’re alcohol-free, you can tell if there’s a real spark there. It’s much harder to make judgements about people when you’re both being altered by a powerful drug.
Tips for sober dating:
~ It’s up to you when you mention that you’re not drinking. Some people believe you should ‘warn’ your date but I don’t bother. Since when did we need to warn people that we don’t take certain drugs? The fact that I don’t drink isn’t very important or interesting information.
~ If you’re anxious to avoid the ‘oh you’re not drinking?’ conversation then a daytime coffee date or non-drinking activity is ideal.
~ If your sobriety does come up, BE COOL. Don’t ask me how I know this, but saying stuff like “Don’t worry, I’m still really fun!” is not a good idea. Actions speak louder than words, so just show up and be your amazing, interesting self.
~ If someone has a problem with your sobriety, wave them goodbye and thank your lucky stars there are more open-minded fish in the sea. Obviously, you should never apologise for not drinking, in the same way that you wouldn’t apologise for choosing not to smoke, sniff glue or stick needles in your eyes.
~ Keep things short. Sober or not, I think all first dates should be short. It takes the pressure off.
~ Remember that it’s normal to feel nervous. If things are going well then you’ll start to relax and have fun. That will happen no matter what’s in your glass.
~ Don’t be paranoid. Just because someone says ‘lets go for drinks’ it doesn’t mean they want to get crazy drunk. Even I still suggest ‘meeting for drinks’ because I like bars, I like people and I really like alcohol-free cocktails.
Let this Eleanor Roosevelt quote become your mantra: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
If you’ve read through this and thought ‘I can’t do that!’ then pay attention. It might just be a sign you need to do this… and what’ve you got to lose?
I quit 18 months ago now so I’ve had a sober valentines day and wedding anniversary already. I was worried about them, but they were great! My marriage is a lot better since I quit drinking and I think valentines day etc is really about spending proper time together with your hubby, it dosnt matter what you do. Wine isn’t very romantic for me, it just made me fall asleep quickly and then I was good for nothing, lol!
That’s great Lizzy – sounds as if alcohol-free living really suits you! 🙂
Thanks for this blog Kate. I am doing online dating at the moment and it is scary, but it feels good to be myself and know that I’m not going to do or say something stupid!!! Love love love being able to drive myself home at the end of the night too.
I like that too – so much easier than hanging around, waiting for a taxi in the cold. Good luck with your dating!
This will be my first AF Valentine’s Day with my husband since I met him 10 years ago! I am really excited to be completely present for him and I know he is too. Since I have stopped drinking he tells me he is so happy to come home to the “real me”.
Being the real me is the best present I can give both of us!
Awesome Karen, I agree I only stopped 2 months ago the real me is far better than the drinking me!
Awww, what a lovely post Karen! I hope you both have a great Valentine’s Day 🙂
Another great blog Kate! I’m on my first day of sobriety today, Monday 12th February 2018! Looking back I think a lot of my relationships failed because they all began with a drunken encounter, even though I had some long term loves. They all involved alcohol! Though I have been happily single for a long time, I’m open to meeting new people and maybe finding love as my true self
Congratulations on your Day 1 Siobhan – here’s to many more! Being alcohol free will set you up for great things 🙂
Keep going!! I promise it gets easier. I am 3 months sober, and i promise you this will be the best choice of your life. You are not alone xx
I needed to hear this. I’m AF 2 weeks – but not on this program. I’m looking at doing the 6 week course, not drinking is easy it’s when I do it’s full on. Thank you
Kate I love your blogs…..thank you. You are increasingly getting me towards sobriety as my life would be a whole lot more effective. Maybe Tuesday 13 February is actually the day to start! Thank you for your continued enthusiasm and passion. It’s wonderful.
There’s no time like the present. You won’t regret it! 🙂
Thank you Kate! Working on my first AF Valentines Day!
Go for it!
Hi Ive been drinking since I was 18. I’m now 50. I have cut back but still drink most wknds. My partner drinks n smokes so I wd find it difficult to be in his co when he is drinking (he won’t give up) but I am willing to give it a go next wknd to see if I can do it.
Any tips to give me wd be most welcome.
Hi Rose, I just wanted to check you’d seen my wine o’clock guide, as I know lots of people find it helpful: https://thesoberschool.com/wineoclock
But if you’re thinking of quitting for good or taking a proper break from booze – and you’d like a step by step roadmap to support you – do make sure you check out my online coaching programme. It’s a 6 week course hosted in a private, online classroom and the next one starts in April: https://thesoberschool.com/course
I have been sober for 5 weeks, and then annoyingly went out with my friend and got way too drunk and suffered all day yesterday. I had planned to have a couple of cocktails, I really wish I hadn’t. I feel rubbish and kicking myself for falling off the wagon. I’m straight back on it.
I was 78 days alcohol free this Valentine’s Day, and I made the decision to have a glass of wine. I’m glad that I did, because it reminded me of the reason I stopped in the first place. Instead of feeling like I ruined my sober streak and am off the wagon, I actually think it will be easier now to give it up permanently. All I did was lie around being boring and the next day at the gym I felt sluggish. And this was only with one glass! Sober life is the way to go!