Sure-Bet Sober Date Ideas

Ready to get back out there? Sober dating isn't so hard. But here are a few pointers anyway, to help you find your groove

April 27, 2024
Sober couple riding a motorcycle on the beach

Logically, of course, you can see why dating in active addiction generally doesn’t work out. But does that make dating sober — meeting a stranger, hoping to impress them, opening up about yourself to someone new, feeling the flush of self-consciousness and trying to get around “getting a drink” — any easier? Not really!

Or not at first, anyway. But as your recovery progresses, you’ll gain confidence, clarity and maybe even a bit more charisma too. You’ll feel a potential connection more intuitively and shrug off a failure to launch more easily. You’ll come to recognize, quickly or slowly, what you really value in a partner.

And, armed with a few sure-bet sober date ideas, you’ll stand out from the crowd of ho-hum let’s-get-a-drink proposals. You might even have a little fun with it.

Getting Back in the Mix: Starting To Date Sober

As with much of recovery, the hardest part of dating sober happens in the beginning. It is yet another life adjustment, yet another unfamiliar scenario to navigate.

As you know, many people use alcohol or other substances to manage the nerves that often come with dating someone new. And of course, the typical go-to first date spot is a bar or restaurant. Intimacy (of any kind) opens you up to vulnerability; so does rejection; and gosh, another helping of vulnerability is just what you ordered in early sobriety!

But dating sober can be highly rewarding too, and not always in obvious ways. Without alcohol or substances, a couple can really get to know each other right off the bat. You can feel more assured in what you want, or don’t, from a date.

Sober couple sledding

When you’re sober and sitting down for a date, it’s helpful to address your sobriety pretty quickly. (You don’t have to divulge anything beyond that you abstain.) This generally heads off any questions about drinking or using that might have come up later. If your date has a problem with this, great — you already know the outcome of this outing.

It is also important to know where your sobriety’s at when it comes to dating. If you feel triggered by alcohol or by people who are drinking, it’s worth taking some care to find someone who’s willing to go sober for the night or day, to an alcohol-free place. Sobriety must always come first. A date is never worth a return to use (aka relapse). And a return to use is not gonna advance your love life.

Sobriety With Benefits: The Advantages of Sober Dating

There are benefits to being sober in all areas of your life, and your dating life is no exception. Those benefits range from small to significant. A “smaller” benefit is that you save some money whenever you go out by eliminating pricey alcohol from the bill. A more significant one is that you may be more cognizant of a situation that feels dangerous.

But wait, there’s more!

  • You can be more present in situations and engaged in conversations; your jokes will land
  • You will be, perhaps out of necessity, more creative about date ideas. Counts for a lot!
  • You don’t have to worry about being too intoxicated to drive, on a date or otherwise
  • Without the artifice and performance that come with substance use, you’ll get to genuinely know and connect with the other person more quickly
  • You’ll feel more confident and certain in letting someone know what you are — and aren’t — looking for in a partner
  • When you’re sober, you’ll exude a greater sense of maturity and self-care. That’s because you have it

Sure-Bet Sober Date Ideas!

Broke: Going out for drinks. This idea is so common, it fairly screams unoriginal and boring, not to mention low-effort.

Woke: Getting creative with sober date ideas.

Bespoke:

  • Go to a play or a movie and break it down with an insightful (and coherent) conversation
  • Avoid major chains, support local businesses! Find a boutique coffee shop or patisserie to settle down in and get to know one another
  • Attend a sporting event and choose opposing sides to root for. It’s all fun and games, mostly
  • Stay home and try cooking a new recipe! Or go try a cooking class and learn to make sushi, gumbo or pasta together
  • Take a yoga class together; discuss what you liked and didn’t after
  • Go out for dinner and treat yourselves to an extra appetizer or dessert with the money you saved not buying alcohol. Or try some nonalcoholic cocktails

Navigating ‘Non-Sober’ Dating Environments

As with most things in life, not all dating environments and X factors can be controlled. You may find, or even choose, a place where alcohol is served and present. Your date may choose not to be sober (but not have an addiction problem).

Here’s where it comes in handy to be open and upfront about your sobriety, and to know your triggers and tolerance for the presence of substances. This goes for both your date and others that are around. If you prefer that your date not drink, that would be something to bring up in advance, but letting a server know about your sobriety will ensure they don’t accidentally bring an alcoholic dessert or the wrong drink.

And remember: If you feel uncomfortable, it is OK to say so. It’s also OK to politely leave. There’s a lot more at stake in protecting your sobriety than in keeping up appearances for a date.

After all, the end goal of dating is making a lasting connection. Why let a short-lived drink get in the way of that?

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