7 First Date Tips for Non-Drinkers

A couple who listened to these first date tips for non-drinkers sipping on some hot chocolate and smiling.

According to Zoosk’s recent Drinking & Dating Data Study, 72% of online daters drink alcohol. That’s a huge majority of singles in the online dating world. The same study also found that 32% of non-drinkers found dating to be difficult. Many assume that dating is more fun when they’re a drink in your hand, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Dating can be easy and enjoyable for non-drinkers or drinkers choosing to opt out.

This list of first date tips for non-drinkers will help everybody who’s abstaining from alcohol have a great time on a night out.

1. Let your date know in advance.
In both the online dating world and the real world, most people spend a lot of time going back and forth getting to know each other before the first date. Let them know that you don’t drink. This will give them time to process that fact. Dating is about compatibility. If this is a dealbreaker for them, heading out to the date and letting them know later probably wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors. You’ll find that most people respect your decision not to drink and will find it to be an interesting part of who you are. No need to be shy.

2. Share why you don’t drink, but don’t let it define you.
Feel free to share as much or as little as you want about your reasons for not drinking. Whether you’re in recovery, or it’s for health or family reasons, it’s up to you to decide how much you want to share about your choice to abstain. Remember that no matter what your reason is for not drinking, not drinking is only one part of your much larger story. This single choice does not define your life story as a whole, and you can own that even on a first date. If you choose not to share, there’s no harm in waiting to open up either.

3. Set the boundaries of the first date.
If they’re open-minded and accepting of your choice not to drink, you should be open and accepting of their choice to drink responsibly. As a non-drinker, decide for yourself if you’re okay with your date drinking on the first date or not, then share your decision with them. As long as they behave within the agreed upon rules for drinking on the first date, there’s no need to pass judgement on their drinking. If you’d prefer that they didn’t drink, tell them that concern as well. Extra communication never hurts.

4. Pick three, choose one.
Start by picking three different date ideas like mini golf, bowling, or hiking, then let them choose one. The choices you offer up will give your date a better feel for your personality and incorporates them into the process of planning the date. Be creative and consider interests your date has mentioned in passing conversation. There’s no reason to conflate not drinking on a date with a flat date, so show them that.

5. Suggest a physical activity.
Suggest a date idea such as surfing or kayaking that will get those muscles working. Most people don’t drink during physical activities and sports already, so that makes these great ideas for a non-drinking first date. Physical dates also get bonus points, because they’re a great way for two people to share an experience and explore the connection. Nothing wrong with a little huffing and puffing.

6. Poll your friends.
Do you have family or friends who are non-drinkers? Ask them if they have any tips for non-drinking dates. If you thought you were the first to date without drinking, you’re not. Friends and family who have been doing it longer will usually have wisdom to spare on the subject.

7. Calm your nerves or amp yourself up.
Many people like drinks on a first date to calm their nerves. As a non-drinker, find the best way for you to soothe those anxious first date jitters. Meditation is great, because it allows your mind to calm and let go of chattering stray thoughts. Other people like herbal tea. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Others drink on a first date to get amped up, so they can be high energy when they meet someone new. If you find you want to get pepped up, try a caffeinated beverage like loose leaf tea or coffee. These will give you the extra zing that you need to wake up.

No matter, which of these tips you choose to follow on your first date and which you choose to leave at home, it’s important to get out there and keep dating. It may seem like a whopping majority of singles do drink on first dates, and that’s because it’s true. But that doesn’t mean that abstaining from drinking has to make it impossible. Keep an open mind about it and communicate honestly with your dates about your feelings about the subject. Don’t put yourself unduly outside your comfort zone. Dating can be tough with or without drinks, so allow yourself to take the time you need and take the good times as they come.

Alex Bocknek

Alex Bocknek is the senior editor of The Date Mix and works at Zoosk, the online dating service. He’s also a recovering music critic and an aspiring fiction writer (probably lost) on the way to an independent bookstore near you. He can be found occasionally musing about politics, philosophy, and love in the modern world.

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