The thought of going on a first date without the help of a little liquid courage is honestly terrifying to most singles—including myself. There is a reason why the majority of dates happen in places that serve alcohol and why “Want to meet up for a drink?” is a go-to when planning that all-important, and sorta scary, first meetup.
But a recent dating term and trend is changing that reality, and you have Gen Z to thank (or curse). It’s been dubbed “Dry Dating” (aka sober dating), and there is no clink of wine glasses or tequila shots that dictate the vibe of getting to know someone. Those days are gone for some singles, taking with it the first date default of meeting in a dimly lit watering hole to break the ice over a cocktail or two. Or three.
No, this trend is reimagining the first date playbook as an increasing number of people are choosing to indulge in dry dating over getting a buzz. Why? Great question! They want to actually get to know the person sitting opposite them without any distractions—and the biggest one for dry daters is alcohol.
We feel that this dating trend won’t be just another fleeting fad; it’s a movement that shows a deeper societal shift. Convos won’t be muddled by the haze of alcohol but will be clearer, especially when it comes to any genuine connection.
Dry dating revolves around connecting with sober clarity, meaning the wine stays corked.
But why are modern daters choosing this seemingly less fun path? Is it in the name of healthier lifestyles, a change in societal norms, or is it simply wanting a more genuine connection?
We are going to find out all about this refreshing approach to dating and uncover not just the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ but also the ‘hows.’
Because the trend isn’t just about abstaining from alcoholic beverages, oh no; it’s about unshackling ourselves from social crutches and redefining what it means to really get to know someone.
So, grab your favorite non-alcoholic beverage (is that a thing), and let’s “clink clink” to Dry Dating, unclouded by the spirits of old traditions and actual spirits.
What the Heck is Dry Dating?
As we said, dry dating is abstaining from alcohol on dates, but Urban Dictionary has a different definition, and you can take an educated guess or look it up yourself if you’re curious—we certainly aren’t going to write it here! We are wholesome (for the most part).
Dry dating, as the term implies, involves engaging in dating activities without the consumption of alcohol or any mind-altering substances—that means no drugs, people! Stone cold sober. It focuses on real connections and common interests, minus the influence of alcohol.
This shift in dating culture has gained huge popularity, especially post-COVID, as GenZs and Millennials became increasingly health-conscious and sought out deeper connections by engaging in sober dating to better understand their potential partners without the distraction of adult beverages.
Why Are Daters Choosing Dry Dating?
The movement towards dry dating is driven by various factors such as health consciousness, changing attitudes towards drinking culture, and a desire for more genuine connections. With movements like “Dry January” and “Sober October” gaining popularity, many are becoming ‘sober curious’ and exploring dating without the influence of alcohol. And dating apps like Bumble and Hinge have reported an increase in users preferring dry dates!
In fact, according to a survey conducted by Bumble, 34 percent of respondents worldwide shared that they are now more likely to consider ‘dating up’ than before the COVID-19 pandemic. This lines up with the current health-conscious younger generations— responsible drinking is in.
The Benefits of Dry Dating
Obviously, dry dating has lots of advantages. It allows individuals to be themselves and helps when it comes to having genuine interactions. Being sober during dates leads to better judgment, no hangovers (yay), and the ability to spot red flags more easily.
This form of dating is particularly beneficial for those in recovery from substance abuse, as it gives the sober crowd an inclusive and safe dating environment. It also eliminates the very real risks associated with being drunk, like impaired judgment, which can and does lead to unsafe situations.
One of the main challenges of dry dating is navigating social situations without the ‘social lubricant’ of alcohol, which can be especially daunting for those with social anxiety. Without alcohol, some people may feel more self-conscious or less confident, particularly in a dating context where they are meeting someone new.
The Psychology Behind Dry Dating
The psychology behind dry dating centers around the desire for authentic connections and genuine experiences. By removing the influence of alcohol, individuals can better assess their compatibility and connection with their date. This approach also resonates with individuals prioritizing their health and well-being, as well as those in recovery from substance abuse.
How to Go on Dry Dates
To have a fun and hopefully not awkward dry date, it’s important to choose the right setting, communicate clearly about your intentions, plan the date, and choose things that promote conversation. You should be focusing on the experience rather than lamenting the lack of alcohol!
Make it Clear That You Don’t Want To Drink
State well in advance that you prefer not to drink. Communication is always important, especially on a first date. This will not only help you stay true to yourself but also offer a little insight into the psyche of your date. If they are considerate and respect your boundaries, yay, it’s a green flag! But if they criticize or whine about it, this is a red flag—maybe you shouldn’t go on the first date with them.
Respect Their Preferences
When doing the whole ‘Dry Dating’ thing, you also have to acknowledge your date’s preferences. Respect it as a two-way street! So, while it’s important to stand by your decision not to drink alcohol, it’s equally important to understand your date’s choices if they do want to have a drink.
Remember that everyone is entitled to their preferences, and it is super unrealistic to expect anyone to change theirs for you—it doesn’t mean to have to go out with them, but you can’t judge them for it either.
Suggestions for Dry Dates
There are lots of creative and fun ideas for dry dates. Think escape rooms, comedy shows, volunteer activities, concerts, city tours, festivals, yoga or meditation classes, and hikes.
Connecting with Other Dry Daters
Finding fellow teetotalers interested in trying out dry dating can be done through dating apps like Hinge and Bumble (which has a “Sober” badge members can post on their dating profiles), classes, family and friends, speed dating events, and by actually going out into the real world.
Many people have no problem getting thoroughly sauced in front of someone they’re meeting for the first time and may not see again. And there’s honestly nothing wrong with this!
But, if the motivation to drink on dates is to dull or hide your feelings, it might be worth reassessing your reliance on alcohol. This could improve not only how you relate to others but also your relationship with yourself.