There’s a common misconception that drinking makes dating easier. We’re told that alcohol offers us that little bit of liquid courage we need to loosen up, to be ourselves. We learn through media exposure that alcohol makes us sexy, sophisticated, and carefree. We live in a world where the most common first date includes a drink to lighten the nervous energy.
If there’s anyone who fell victim to this myth, it was me. I was an awkward, gawky girl in adolescence. I was taller than most of the boys, unconfident, and shy. I was never asked on a single date in high school. I didn’t really learn how to flirt with boys until college where my flirtation was fuelled by alcohol.
Will we go for a drink?
I navigated the dating scene through my 20s with a cocktail as my security blanket. I had relationships where serious and vulnerable conversations were only had with the assistance of alcohol. I had fights and emotional outbursts that were the product of drinking too much. I settled for substandard behaviour from romantic partners because I settled for substandard behaviour in myself.
Yet, none of this behaviour was at all concerning. As a “normal” drinker, I was assured that going out drinking was a great way to meet men and that “meeting for drinks” was a more-than-acceptable date.
By the time I hit 30, I was exhausted with the entire party girl vibe. I was tired of the way alcohol made me feel and sensed that it was a major factor keeping me from living the life I truly wanted to live.
A new approach
I started to feel an intense rumble that it was time to break up with booze. But, as a single woman in a lively city (I live in Austin, Texas, USA), I was absolutely terrified at what being alcohol-free would mean for my dating and social life. Would I be a social outcast? Would men see me as a prude? Would they assume I was an alcoholic and avoid me for fear of taking on a “project”? Would I be passed over for dates for the fear that I wouldn’t be fun?
And what if I did get asked on a date? How would I have the courage to flirt with a man without a little help from alcohol? Would I be able to hold a conversation void of a drink as my social lubricant? What would we even do on a date where you didn’t grab a drink?
These are the thoughts that passed through my mind. If you’re single and alcohol-free or sober-curious, I’m betting they’ve been on your mind too. As someone who has been navigating the alcohol-free dating scene for over two years, let me relieve your stress: none of these have to be true. Here’s a glimpse of what the booze-free dating scene really looks like.
A smaller (but targeted) dating pool.
When you shift your life values, what you want in a date will begin to shift as well. When I first started dating as an alcohol-free woman, I tried to be open to dating anyone and realised quickly that I’d need to narrow my scope. The type of men I used to be attracted to as a drinker no longer looked so great. After I’d experienced the benefits of being sober, I wasn’t interested in partner who saw booze as a non-negotiable. While I also didn’t feel passionate about dating someone who was also alcohol-free, I realised quickly that I needed my potential match to be comfortable without alcohol. In short, I didn’t need someone to be at the exact same place on their own path of personal growth, I just needed them to be willing to make the journey.
I realised this simple criterion significantly narrowed the dating pool. While I at first saw this a negative, I realised quickly that finding my “target audience” was a benefit. I didn’t have to waste my time on dates with guys whose values didn’t match mine. I could, instead, focus on dating men who were open to personal growth, lived a healthy lifestyle and were ready to be emotionally available for a relationship. To that end, I realised I started attracting a different type of person.
Eliminate alcohol, raise your vibrational frequency.
Point blank, when you vibrate at a higher frequency, you start attracting partners who are an energetic match and repelling those who are not. While I thought for years that alcohol was helping me to present a more bubbly, open, sassy, fun-loving, sophisticated version of myself to male suitors, I was wrong.
What I was actually offering was a dulled-down, emotionally bankrupt, and insecure version of who I really was. I can’t sugar-coat it, it was scary as hell going into the dating world without the security blanket that alcohol provided. I had to personally address decades of protective patterns I’d put in place. I found that underneath it all, there was still a gawky, awkward, shy girl that I had tried so hard to cover up.
But, as I began to become more comfortable in my own skin, my ability to conquer situations without the aid of alcohol made me feel powerful and confident. And you know what? The type of romantic partner I attracted eventually started to match my new standard. Whether it was on dating apps or in real life, high-value men who actually had their priorities straight started appearing in my life. Because I was attracting higher-vibe men, I started to see that being alcohol-free was my superpower when it came to dating (and, of course, every other aspect of life).
Alcohol-Free is attractive.
While you’ll surely run into several Peter Pan types who think being alcohol-free is a drag (let me assure you, these people are not for you), you’ll meet amazing, self-aware, emotionally available, emotionally intelligent partners who are impressed-as-hell with your alcohol-free lifestyle. They will see this as a value-add and something that sets you far ahead of the competition. When someone sees you as attractive for who you really are, you’ll reach a whole new level of self-confidence.
Let me be clear, my first sober date was intimidating and an overall flop. I’ll be the first to admit that it took me many tries before I figured out the best way to share my new alcohol-free lifestyle with dates. Once I got the hang of it, I realised that the quality of the dates I went on was so much higher than those I’d experienced as a drinker. I proposed walks or coffee meet-ups over happy hours and dinners. I found that a cozy coffee shop or the serenity of nature allowed my dates and I to actually enjoy conversation and pay attention to one another.
While many of these dates weren’t romantic matches, I found them to be enjoyable experiences where I was able to get to know another person on a deeper, more intimate level. This allowed me to determine more quickly – and with more certainty – if I wanted to continue pursuing a romantic relationship with this person. As a drinker, I approached situations with clouded judgment and would often compromise. Now, I don’t have to.
If you’ve been hesitating to navigate the dating world alcohol-free (or perhaps you’ve even been hesitating giving up alcohol because you’re terrified of what it might mean for your romantic life), let me promise you this: there is hope. Being alcohol-free is not a death sentence to your dating life. What’s more, there is a powerful, brave, vulnerable version of you who deserves a high-value partner that both admires you for your personal growth and aspires to the same in their own life. I am confident that you will find all the happiness and joy that being alcohol-free provides and the perfect partner to share it with.