Why You Shouldn’t Drink On A First Date — If You Are Looking For Love
I was recently speaking with a friend of mine — lets call her Danielle — who is a professional dating coach. Danielle works for an incredibly successful Matchmaking company, with offices all over the country, and helps men and women move away from the weird world of online dating to find better, more compatible matches in real-life. As a rather, umm, spirited opponent of dating apps, I found myself fascinated by Danielle’s real-life matchmaking work, including her suggested best practices for successful long-term dating.
Some of these best practices were pretty obvious (though you’d be shocked at the rate of non-adherence): respond to a text/call within 24 hours of a date, don’t have sex on the first date, don’t talk poorly about your exes, et cetera. OK, makes sense.
But there was one guideline that caught my eye especially: “You should not consume more than two alcoholic drinks while on the date.”
Call me old-fashioned, but I immediately thought to myself, “WTF? Who has MORE than two drinks on a first date? People do that?”
And then I thought to myself, “Wait a minute…is there a benefit to drinking on the first date at all?” We all know that alcohol is (over)used as a way to break the ice and loosen things up, especially with a stranger. But is that actually an effective practice, or is it doing more harm than good?
Now, before we dive in, a word about the important caveat in the title: don’t drink on the first date IF you are looking for love — that is, a serious relationship. If you know that you are are dating just to date, having fun, hooking up with rando’s, not ready for anything serious, emotionally unavailable, et cetera, this article is a non-starter for you; drink to your heart’s content on dates. In fact, if a one-night stand is your goal, alcohol probably should be involved.
But if you are looking for love and ready for a serious commitment, the mentality that first dates are only survivable with the aid of a martini or three has got to go. I’m sure you feel frustrated that you’ve gone on a zillion first dates and they’ve lead nowhere — I feel the same way. But our feelings only change when our habits do. So, implement this change and skip the booze on the first date or two; I believe it will benefit you now and in the long term. Here’s why.
1. It shows you are confident — and different.
We all use alcohol as a crutch. Step one: stop doing that. When you choose not to drink on the first date, you are showing your date that you don’t need a drink in order to be comfortable in front of him/her — which is really saying, “I am fully comfortable with myself.” Whether you’re naturally charismatic and sociable or painfully awkward and shy, the ability to be yourself in a social setting and not rely on a substance to “loosen you up” reveals a level of confidence that is extremely attractive. This confidence is also extremely rare. Show your date that you do things differently and that you’re confident about it.
Those of us looking for love are always saying we want someone different, someone special, someone interesting. Start with yourself; it will make you eminently desirable.
2. You will get a clearer picture of the person sitting across from you — and of yourself
When you decide not to drink on the first date or two, you will undoubtedly observe important characteristics about your date, however subtle, that you might have missed if you were also partaking in drink. Let me elucidate using the example of Alexa and Brock.
Well, Alexa’s first blunder was agreeing to go on a date with a guy named Brock. That aside, let’s say they sit down to dinner on a Friday night. Brock opens with, “So, should we start with something to drink?” Alexa replies, “I’m actually good tonight, I’m just gonna have an iced tea. But you go for it!” Brock says OK and proceeds to order an Old Fashioned. Every 20–30 minutes, Brock orders another cocktail. By the end of the their date, he’s about 4 drinks deep. What has Alexa learned about Brock? She has learned that even though they had a nice time, the dude drinks like he is still in a fraternity. No Bueno.Now, if Alexa sank 2 glasses of wine herself, she probably wouldn’t even have noticed Brock’s drinking; she’d miss the problematic behavior that is right before her eyes.
And what has Alexa learned about herself? Perhaps she noticed that it was surprisingly easy for her to turn down a drink, even though drinking is customary for a Friday night and a date; in this case, maybe she finds that she actually wants to be with a man who doesn’t really drink. Perhaps she learned that it was very difficult for her to turn down a drink and she felt awkward without one; in this case, she may realize that her drinking has been mindless and she should reexamine her relationship with alcohol. Whatever it may be, she now has valuable insight about herself and her date that she would not have gleaned had she opted to drink as usual.
3. You’ll (really) know whether or not there is any chemistry there
This one is self-explanatory. As long as you are semi-intoxicated and in the company of a relatively attractive person, you think there is chemistry between you. Now, remove the alcohol; is there any chemistry? Are sparks flying? Or have you realized that this person is a total bore and you two are completely incompatible?
Perhaps you drank on the first couple of dates. The next time you go out with that person, run an experiment and skip the alcohol. Is your dynamic exactly the same, or did alcohol play a role in facilitating a connection? Can you have a great time with this person when you’re both sober as a peach? The only way to know for real is to embrace the concept of the sober first date, relinquish any expectations you may have, and let the chemistry (or lack thereof) speak for itself.
4. You’ll make wiser decisions that night.
Oh boy. Alcohol and regrettable decisions… we’ve all been there.
Let’s say a woman named Leah has gone out to dinner and split a bottle of wine with her date, Ben. She’s feeling nice and toasty, they’ve had a nice time together, and she thinks there is some chemistry there. Slightly intoxicated, Leah decides to make out with Ben at the end of the date. Things get heated, they get carried away and end up sleeping together. (Needless to say, if you are serious about finding a committed partner, hooking up right away is never a good idea. But anyway).
The next day Leah wakes up, stone-cold sober, and realizes that Ben was actually a tool and she does not even like him. “Ugh. What was I thinking? Now what?” Now she feels disappointed in herself and has to find a way to tell Ben that she is not interested. Or, let’s say Leah wakes up and realizes that she actually really likes Ben. Now she’s worried that they moved too quickly and he’s going to ghost her because he was only in it for the sex. Either way, this is an emotional headache that could have been avoided by ordering a Diet Coke rather than a bottle of wine.
(And you know what else can be avoided? DUI’s. Don’t drink and drive).
We always make wiser decisions in the absence of alcohol, regardless of the amount.
5. You’ll save yourself from wasting time
You are single. You are ready to find your person, lock him/her down, and get shacked up. You are not messing around — you are working on yourself, and you need a person who has their shit together.
Well, a decisively indicative test for whether or not someone has their shit together is their relationship with substances. Forgive me if this is my biased opinion, but I have always said that if you are looking for love, someone who drinks a pretty substantial amount is not someone you want to date seriously. I don’t mean this in a mean or judgmental way; however, practically speaking, moderate-to-heavy drinking can engender issues in a relationship, especially if/when one person drinks considerably more than the other.
To be sure, am I advocating that you never drink on dates? Of course not! You and your person will want to enjoy wine with your dinner, celebrate special occasions with champagne, et cetera, and that’s all wonderful. But that’s a different situation from these very first dates where, for better or worse, first impressions matter. You tell me which is a more interesting and memorable first impression: 1) the women I go on dates with who, like everyone else, start with a cocktail and then move to a glass of wine, or 2) the woman I recently took out who told me she’s not drinking right now because she wakes up at 6:30am every morning to train for her upcoming marathon.
When you make a commitment not to drink on first dates — and when you feel good about that commitment — you are attracting like-minded people. You will probably go on fewer second dates, but then you know you’re not wasting your time. More importantly, those second dates will be with people who are probably doing more impressive things; people who are more mature, more confident, more responsible, and more self-aware.
Now, this is an entire topic unto itself (that I’m sure will be the subject of one of my future articles), but I would feel remiss if I don’t at least mention it: if you’re looking for love, you must first find it within yourself. You won’t find love in the bottom of a wine glass, nor in temporary sexual attention. If you’re not enough without these things, you’ll never be enough with them.
Yes, there are several steps you can take to maximize your chances of finding love and a lasting relationship — don’t drink on first dates, get yourself in therapy, write out a list of the specific characteristics you want in a partner, spend time around people who share your hobbies… But remember that, first and foremost, your relationship with others will always be dictated by your relationship with yourself. Find ways to fall in love with yourself, and the world will fall in love with you.