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How Do I Tell My Date I Don't Drink?!
4 options for sober swiping
Happy Hump Day, y’all! Welcome to the inaugural issue of Beyond Liquid Courage. This weekly column answers subscriber questions about booze-free dating, relating, and hooking up. I’m Tawny, AKA The Sober Sexpert and author of the forthcoming book Dry Humping: A Guide to Dating, Relating, and Hooking Up Without the Booze, and I’m here to help you move beyond liquid courage.
This week, I answer a subscriber question that I receive quite often: How the hell do I tell my date that I don’t drink?!
I’m ready to put myself out there to find a partner. I’m on all the dating apps, but I don’t know when to tell my date that I don’t drink alcohol. Sometimes people are supportive of my sobriety, while others seem bothered by it. When is the right time to tell a date I don’t drink? And when do I tell them why I don’t drink?
-Ready But Overwhelmed
Let me start by saying you are not alone. For real, this is probably the most popular question I receive as The Sober Sexpert. We live in a world where we’re often seen as weirdos for not drinking or trying to drink less. Couple feeling like an outsider because you don't drink with the oh-so-awkwardness of dating, and then we really have no idea what to do. But sit tight while I share some tips with you. You’ve got this!
Since you mentioned you’re on the apps, here’s an easy-to-read guide on navigating sober swiping:
Declare Sobriety on Your Profile
Whether you state sober or booze-free or in recovery, some folks will see your up-front honesty as a deal-breaker and swipe left. This may seem unfortunate at first, but it's actually a good thing because you won't waste your time (or theirs!). Plus, you just might match with someone who also doesn’t drink. You can also take a more low-key approach by saying something like “I love making mocktails” or “Let’s grab coffee” under your hobbies section. A red herring like “one day at a time” can offer a more covert approach to online sober dating.
2. Let Your Match Know Through DM
If you’d rather be chill about your booze-free life on your profile, but still want to discuss it before meeting IRL, you can tell your date at the DM or FaceTime stage. Once you’ve bonded over shared interests and some trust is established, it may be more comfortable sharing that you don’t drink alcohol. Bonus Perk: Letting the cat out of the bag before committing to an in-person date helps you suss out if they’re bothered by your sobriety.
3. Tell Them IRL
It can be nice to let a date just be a date. You can simply order a non-alcoholic drink, and the other person may not even notice. Lisa Smith, author of Girl Walks Out of Bar and my co-host on Recovery Rocks podcast, waited until the fifth date to tell her now-husband that she didn’t drink. Like many of us, she had anxiety about sharing something so personal with someone she liked. “I’m sure you’ve noticed I don’t drink alcohol,” she told him. His response was the perfect, most comforting, and comical answer: “You don’t? So you’ll be a cheap date,” he joked with a shrug as they laughed. She appreciated how casual the conversation was, and as I said, now they’re married!
4. Try a Sober Dating App
To address the second part of your question: You never need to share *why* you don’t drink—unless you want to! Since the subject of why you don’t drink can be overwhelming/exhausting/terrifying/confusing, I’ll discuss this in a future column so I can give this question the airtime it deserves.
Next week’s issue explores how alcohol can hinder communication in our relationships. Subscribe here so you don’t miss it!
If this week's newsletter interests you, there’s a full chapter in my book, Dry Humping: A Guide to Dating, Relating and Hooking Up Without The Booze, on this very topic.
Until next week,
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