Sober Dating

Modern dating is messy. With alcohol, it gets messier. In a world of happy hours and 2-4-1 cocktails, The Mix unpacks the benefits of booze-free dating…and why more people are doing it than you might think. 

A young person turns down a drink offered by their friend.

“What pub shall we meet at?” 

You’ve swiped right, done the small talk and now you’re met with that age-old question. 

In the UK, we do love a drink when it comes to dating. It hands us a bit of courage and a solid conversation starter when we need it most. 

Before you know it, it’s love at first sight and the rest is history. 

Or not. 

In reality, 20% of young people over 16 now identify as non-drinkers and many more are starting to realise the benefits of dating sober. 

Instead of reaching for the pint, we’re drinking in the satisfaction of having true, authentic and meaningful connections without the added pressure of potentially making a tit of ourselves in front of someone we fancy. 

So what is sober dating all about? And why might it be our best chance at success when it comes to the dating battleground? 


Sober dating can foster better communication and, therefore, better connections. Without the ongoing need to have ‘one more’ or nip to the bathroom every 20 minutes, conversations can become more meaningful and attentive.  

You can move away from the dead-end chats about the drinks menu and get to know the real meaty stuff that keeps the energy flowing and the conversation evolving. With no alcohol impacting your concentration, you have the ability to listen actively and respond thoughtfully. This level of engagement helps build a stronger emotional connection and ensures that both partners feel heard and valued. 

A cheap date 

The average price of a pint in the UK is roughly £3454.62.  

OK, so it’s not quite hit those heights yet but the point is – alcohol is expensive. If alcohol is expensive, so’s dating. 

By going sober, you’ll notice how much you save whilst having a great time saving it. You’ll begin to wonder why you spent so much on alcohol in the first place and relish that healthy bank balance.  

And if the date doesn’t quite go the way you hoped, you’ll feel a lot better for not spending your week’s wages on it. Instead, treat yourself to a post-date Mcd’s or even upgrade to a Five Guys – why not? 

Stronger emotional bonds 

Alcohol is very good at making you feel emotions that aren’t actually there.  

Without it, emotions are experienced more intensely and authentically. This heightened emotional awareness allows for a deeper bond to form, as both of you navigate your feelings together with a crisp, clear head. 

And of course, true emotions can only come from your true self. Dating without the influence of alcohol allows individuals to present who they really are, comfortably and confidently. 

Without the haze of intoxication, both parties can experience genuine emotions and form a deeper understanding of each other. This clarity ensures that decisions and feelings are based on reality, and not distorted by your third prosecco. 

My first sober date experience 

A member of The Mix shares their experiences as a first-time sober dater… 

Until recently, the thought of jumping on the dating wagon again was a farfetched concept. This was made even more far-reaching by the fact that our drinking culture has helped booze be one of our top choices for first dates, etc. 

It’s been two and a half years since my last date with someone new and my first ever date sober (not counting the happy meal I shared with Michelle from primary school when I was 9). 

It was the usual story – dating apps, swiping left/right and the incessant small talk until you find that potential spark with someone. 

Then the dreaded question came: ‘Which pub do you want to meet at?’ 

Strangely, being in a pub doesn’t phase me whatsoever as a sober person. They’re full of life and great memories, with or without alcohol. However, I felt it was only right to tell them that I wouldn’t be drinking. I also told them that it’s completely fine if they don’t want to meet anymore. 

To my surprise, they were very on board with the idea and also stated that they weren’t a heavy drinker. They even joked and called me a cheap date. 

If I’d have drank alcohol before the date, there’s no doubt I would’ve felt nervous. I would’ve drank to combat those nerves but ironically, the drink would’ve exacerbated them. 

Nowadays, Sober Me walked breezily into the pub we were meeting at, leaving all of his anxieties behind. 

What was so refreshing is my energy bounced back and forth between us. As soon as we met we didn’t stop chatting. For FIVE HOURS. No regular trips to the bar or the bathroom. We shared a couple of lemonades, a packet of crisps and endless stories about our lives. 

I was completely engaged in everything she said and I was so confident in everything I said. We talked about the big things, we laughed about the little things, we even had a dance-off competition (she won). 

We didn’t quite make it to a second date (our views on what we wanted from a relationship were a little bit different) but that didn’t take away from the experience.  

I also realised that not drinking helped me deal with the inevitable downsides of dating in a more effective and mature way. My past drunken self would’ve seen this as an outright rejection, affecting my mood and my self-esteem and potentially stopping me from dating again. 

With no alcohol involved, I was able to enjoy the date for what it was and feel like, whatever happens, I’m showing my true self…and that’s all that matters. 

Useful resources 

  • What is teetotal? And why do we go sober? Read our article to find out more. 
  • I’m teetotal – a young person’s experiences of going sober.  

Next Steps


Updated on 08-Jul-2024

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