It is a common first-date choice, but there is evidence to suggest that meeting up for drinks is losing its appeal for at least some daters. In a survey by Hinge in 2022, three out of four Hinge singles said going to get drinks was no longer a preferred first date activity. Another survey, cited by a November 2023 article in VICE, found that roughly half of all women do not drink on first dates.
Why not drink in a new dating situation? Proponents of “dry dating” like the dating coach and consultant Connell Barrett, in an interview with FOX 5, say the advantage is that “You’re catching a buzz on each other, not on that glass of alcohol.”
Other experts would flat-out disagree. The biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, in a June 2016 article in Glamour, argued that getting a drink can make you more social and talkative—so that you’re able to get to know each other better.
Opposing views aside, what is indisputable is that dry dating is an increasingly popular trend. For this reason, it deserves a closer look, including an examination of some of its benefits.
What Is Dry Dating?
Dry dating is dating minus the drinking. It does not necessarily require that the person you’re dating also abstain from alcohol, but choosing not to drink and date at the same time could mean changes in the ways that you decide to meet up for a first or future date. Instead of heading to a bar, you might catch coffee, take a stroll, or play pickleball.
Why Dry Date?
Proponents of dry dating say that it allows you to give your energy to the emotional connection that you’re hopefully forming with a new romantic prospect. They also argue that it allows you to date in closer alignment with your values and relationship goals.
As for other potential benefits of dry dating as a lifestyle choice? Here are some more reasons to consider it:
- You may feel safer and healthier – Those with certain diagnoses need to limit their alcohol use or avoid alcohol altogether. A case in point: people with alcohol use disorders or certain mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder. If you’re prioritizing your mental and physical health, that can have a positive spillover effect on your new relationship.
Safety and sense of safety are worth considering also, especially when you’ve not met someone yet and you don’t know how they act when under the influence. If they have trouble controlling their intake and are prone to getting belligerent or physical, that could jeopardize your sense of safety.
- Better discernment about your chemistry and compatibility – When alcohol is in the picture, that can skew your perception of how attracted you are to your date and whether you’re really gelling. Studies have shown, for example, that just one drink can make the person across from you seem more attractive. Eliminating the alcohol offers a more objective evaluation. The same can be true when gauging how compatible you are as friends.
- Being vulnerable about the fact that you’re nervous can make you more attractive – This suggestion comes from writer Maggie Ryan in her October 2023 article for Pop Sugar. If you’re someone who is used to drinking on a first date because it calms your nerves, dry dating offers an opportunity to be vulnerable about this fact. Social anxiety on first dates is a near-universal experience. Being appropriately open and sharing that you feel more nervous can create more of a bond with your date (if they are of the right material for you). They may even feel more attracted to you because you’ve been vulnerable.
- Being more present and better able to recall what happened the next day – Alcohol, even just a couple of drinks, can interfere with your presence of mind and your capacity to really pay attention to what your date is saying, their tone and body language, and other details of the conversation. These can also be harder to recall the next morning, yet being able to remember the details can help you decide whether it’s worth it to continue to invest in this person.
These are just some of the potential benefits of dry dating. Those who have adopted it as a lifestyle choice could probably share more.