One of the greatest challenges people face when they change their relationship with alcohol is when it comes to dating.
“My dating history consisted of a string of consecutive long term relationships from the age of 15. I met each partner organically and that was it. I never had to dig up the courage to go on cycles of dates in search of a match. Until I turned 30. I was fresh out of my long term relationship in the middle of a pandemic, learning that the only way people were meeting was through dating apps. Without the organic discovery of chemistry, compatibility and connection (an online profile doesn't do that for you –– shocking) I, naturally, found myself going on multiple dates before I met someone I connected with. Of course, I’m not the first person to do this, but during this time, I was also changing my relationship with alcohol and that introduced a lot of nuance to the most socially acceptable dating activity “going for a drink.” Today, I’m sharing my thoughts and ideas from what I experienced as an alcohol-free newcomer to the dating scene. I hope it helps you as you navigate this new social territory.” — Fiona Hepher, CEO at Sansorium
When we date, we are looking to connect. Biologically, alcohol actually disconnects us from ourselves and others. Thats why it’s used to "relax" (read: feel less), otherwise known medically as a "depressant". With that in mind, I saw it as counterintuitive to drink when dating, especially in those early days when I was trying to establish *connection*. Yes, it lowers inhibitions and therefore allows people to “open up”, but lowering one’s inhibitions also lowers one’s control — or better yet, their power. When we give our power away we sometimes operate from a mindset of do they like me?” Rather that the real question which is “do I like them?”For decades we’ve apologized for how we act when we're drunk, and let people off the hook for their behaviour because they were drinking. Here’s the truth, alcohol doesn’t create what’s not already there. So if you witness toxic behaviours when they’re drinking, consider that those are traits they've been good at masking to be: liked, accepted and approved. Many of which will be revealed down the road when they’re more comfortable and the guard comes down.
And if you do want to go for a drink, be open that you’re alcohol-free and choose a place that has a good AF menu for the date or if they’re booking ask them to find a spot. That’s good foundation setting. It gives you both a chance at making the date more comfortable because you won’t have to regrettably order a sparkling water all night, which could potentially lead you both feeling unsatisfied.
We all get nervous at some point about meeting someone new. It’s a normal human feeling and there is nothing wrong with you. Certainly, if you desire to meet someone and you’re too anxious, there are ways that you can help your anxiety naturally. From a biological perspective, it's my opinion that alcohol just isn’t the best method if your intention is to *connect* and get to know the person in front of you and reveal who you authentically are to them.
If you do still drink alcohol, don’t centre it in all your interactions with that person. Don’t hinge your *good times* on alcohol being present. Find out if you can have genuine fun together without booze, because there will be many times when one or both of you will need to stop for a period, or decide to no longer drink alcohol, and you don’t want alcohol to be the thing you needed to like the other person and enjoy their company.
Lastly, when going on a date, it is safer to be sober. We’ve all heard a story or two by now. It’s far too common to write off. Remember, trust isn’t given until it’s earned. So until you've established mutual care and comfort with them, keep your personal safety top of mind with dating.
If you’re in BC and want a list of places to go to with great alcohol-free menus check out our quick list:
Chateau Hotel Victoria
Capo & the Spritz
Fanny Bay Oyster Bar
Guilt & Co
Lunitas Mexican Eatery
Point Grey Golf & Country Club
Zarak by Afghan Kitchen