To drink or not to drink? It’s always a question — more so when you’re dating. You may be a teetotaler, a wine snob, or even the type who pre-games at your apartment before a night on the town.
Regardless of your relationship with alcohol, introducing drinking to your dating life can add new wrinkles to the situation. Some involve safety, and some are just awkward moments we’d rather not have to negotiate. Before you decide whether you want to drink and date, here are some things to think about.
1. It Can Prevent an Easy Out
Date not going well? If you’re clear-eyed and sober, slip out the restaurant door free and clear. While it’s not great to stiff the waitress or leave your date with a big check to contend with, in some rare situations, a dash to the door is totally understandable.
Whether the person is annoying or you feel you’re in an unsafe situation, having your transportation totally in your own hands — not relying on your date for a ride or for the Uber that will take forever — can be a godsend.
In general, making your own transportation plans is never a bad idea. Whether you drive yourself (safely and soberly!), get a Lyft, or take the subway, it’s always best to be in charge of your own transportation plans.
But if you drink on the date, you may eliminate this from your toolbox.
2. Beer Goggles are Real
“Beer goggles” — the idea that everyone seems more attractive when you’re tipsy — seems like a crass concept, but there’s some truth to it. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, and the person who seemed like a catch the night before could seem a lot less cute once the hangover sets in.
A big part of deciding whether or not to drink on a date goes back to how well you know yourself. Do you know how much you plan to drink in a given night? When you normally go out, do you stick to the plan you set before, or do you find yourself giving in to your whims when you’ve had a couple of glasses of wine?
There’s nothing wrong with (safely) partying with your friends, but when you’re meeting new people, it’s best to play it cool and be aware of what your decision-making skills are like before you drink.
3. Lowered Inhibitions
For many people, the decision to drink is based solely on alcohol’s ability to take the edge off when a person is nervous. In moderation, that’s not a bad thing. But think about what you’re looking for in an evening and decide if drinking fits into those plans.
Let’s take a quick second to note here that your safety always, always comes first. Even if you’re having fun on a date and something changes the vibe and you want to end the date, that’s your right, whether you’ve been drinking or not.
If you’re looking for a long-term relationship and want to take it slow, keeping your willpower in check is a solid choice. While a one-night-stand or fling may feel right in the moment — and no judgement if that’s the case — if you know in your heart you’re looking for the love of your life, snap-judgement decisions won’t serve you well. Maybe go out for coffee instead.
4. The Other Side of Lowered Inhibitions
…However, the reality of the situation is that dating is nerve-wracking, and a beer or cocktail on its own will not cause a problem for most people. Alcohol is known as a social lubricant for a reason, so if you’re able to drink in moderation, go for it.
Meanwhile, it’ll give you a chance to see how your date handles their drinking, too. Do they seem to not know when to stop, or are they suddenly loud and obnoxious? Cheers to you for figuring that out early.
While even the most even-keeled drinker can have an off night, seeing how someone handles their liquor when they’re supposed to be on their best first-date behavior can clue you in to what they may be like when they’re less likely to be minding their p’s and q’s.
5. What If I Don’t Drink at All?
Whether or not you abstain from alcohol at all times, you don’t have to drink in any situation, and no one worthy of a second date would question you about why. A decision not to drink can be a very personal one, and whether or not you’re willing to share, it’s your call to divulge that or not.
Be wary of people who constantly refer back to your drink-free status on a date. If they can’t hear the information and just roll with it, that’s a red flag. And remember — that’s not about you. That’s them working through their own neuroses.
For some more on this topic, check out our guide to dating when you don’t drink. It’s a fantastic primer to help you have success while not giving in to your personal convictions. You can also check out our list of the top sober dating apps if you’re looking to meet someone who shares the same view on alcohol as you!
6. But what if they don’t drink and I do?
What if you’re on the other side of the fence? For example, you’re a wine aficionado and they don’t drink at all. The polite thing to do is to determine an activity that suits you both. In the best case scenario, you’ll have discussed the evening’s plans and have picked a place that suits you both.
If you don’t have a chance to determine that in advance, try to pick a first date location that lends itself to flexibility. In this case, it’s not much different than deciding not to pick a steakhouse for a first date just in case your companion happens to be a vegetarian.
Remember: first dates are about determining compatibility. You should both be out to have a pleasant time, but a lot of the first date is simply about deciding if you two hit it off. A boring date or a date with someone you don’t click with isn’t the end of the world.
Go into the situation with an open mind. While you may assume that a non-drinker will judge you for your choices, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that your date simply chooses not to drink, and is laid-back and fun all on their own.
It’s up to you if sobriety is a deal-breaker, but be sure not to judge a book by its cover. And if you want to try a dry date, you can always check out our guide to the best sober date night ideas.