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Why you’re better off going on sober dates: ‘You get to really know somebody’

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Grabbing a drink on a first date has somewhat become the norm, but some experts say you may be better off doing things sober.

In a recent piece in Psychology Today, clinical social worker Lisa Ferentz said she realized the importance of encouraging clients to go on sober dates, after some of them talked about how hard it was to find connections with people.

“It’s important to normalize their anxiety about meeting someone new, and to trust that if it’s the right person that anxiety will begin to dissipate,” she writes. “In truth, the only way to get an accurate take on the other person, to truly assess if there is a real connection, and to be in touch with one’s own instincts about how it feels to be in their company is to pursue this endeavor in a sober state.”

Knowing limits

Claire AH, a matchmaker based in Toronto, said that while there is nothing wrong with drinking on the fist date, it’s about setting up boundaries to make yourself and others around you feel comfortable.

Many people may rely on alcohol to loosen up or get comfortable, and Ferentz added some daters were even drinking before the date or pre-gaming to feel less anxious.

Claire said that if you’re the type of person who feels more comfortable drinking before going on a date, you may want to experiment dating sober.

“It’s a nice idea to try not [drinking] and see what it’s like, especially if you find you always have to be drinking on dates,” she told Global News.

She added that for people who tend to make bad decisions when they drink or do things they wouldn’t do sober, it may not be the best idea to excessively drink on dates. “This can also include gravitating towards topics or other behaviour they don’t talk about.”

For some, alcohol also makes people confessional.

“They bring up personal things that create a false sense of intimacy very early,” she continues. “It [seems] like a natural flow and makes us think we have more in common or there’s more significance to the relationship than there actually is.”

Excessive drinking on a date can also be triggering for someone who had substance abuse problems in the past, or knows friends and family members currently going through it.

“Doing something that doesn’t require alcohol gives it more time before discussing [personal stories] like that.”

Bad habits

Therapist and relationship expert Natasha Sharma said that when people are nervous and they drink, they often end up over-drinking.

“You can quickly slip down a chain of drinks to an impression you rather not make,” she said. “[Dating sober] is not only so that doesn’t happen [but] you have clarity of mind when you get to really know somebody.”

Of course, further down the line there is no reason why you can’t indulge, she said, adding over-drinking at any time is not healthy.

“If you have someone who is drinking more, the person drinking less is trying to keep pace.”

And if anyone feels pressured or “uncool” because they don’t want to drink on a first date, this isn’t the right person for you.

“If anybody is putting pressure it’s a good sign it’s not a good date,” Sharma said. “Ane should never feel pressure to do anything. It’s a good time to end it”

Claire added that as a dating culture, we need to move away from this idea that not drinking on the first date is not the norm. People don’t drink for all kinds of reasons, and if you’re on a date, you shouldn’t have to explain yourself.

“That should be considered poor form on a date,” she said. “If someone asks, ‘what’s wrong with you?’ because you don’t act like how their bubble act, it’s not a way to make someone feel comfortable.”

“That says more about the person asking.”

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