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Dry Dating Lovewell

How to Dry Date and What It Means for Your First Date


As a mindful dating coach, I am a big fan of the new trend toward hip sobriety and dry dating. Dry dating is defined simply as dating without alcohol. Even without a formal name for this trend toward drinking less, I have often encouraged my clients to stay sober on their first few dates. Not only is dating without alcohol a more mindful way to date, but it’s also a more efficient and effective way to get to know your potential partner. Alcohol changes our brain chemicals and lowers our inhibitions and judgment, so we cannot accurately evaluate how much we like a person, how comfortable we feel around them, and whether we have fun together. Alcohol instead lowers our inhibitions artificially, encourages us to override our boundaries, and creates a sense of intimacy that doesn’t necessarily exist when sober. These effects can make us dependent on alcohol for a sense of connection, and make it difficult to discern between different types of connections. 

At Lovewell, we help people learn the skills and tools to build that connection and sense of intimacy naturally so they can experience connection without alcohol. This has numerous benefits, including finding partners that are a better fit you emotionally, psychologically, and materially, developing a greater sense of intimacy and trust with yourself and others, and overall better health (less hangovers, more stable blood sugar, better brain health, less fatigue and brain fog, better MENTAL health, less depression and anxiety, and no hangovers!.) Research shows that even tiny amounts of alcohol cause the hippocampus (responsible for learning and memory) to atrophy and reduce blood supply to the brain! As these facts become more well-known, it makes sense that people are consuming less. giving up alcohol. and joining the dry dating movement. 

As we leave the social isolation phase of the pandemic, more and more people are aware of how important health is and how easy it is to lose our good health - mentally and physically. This emphasis on health has only increased the trend towards dry dating. In this post, I'll answer some of the most common questions about dry dating and share some tips and resources. Please post other tips and resources in the comments below for the community. Specific events are welcome!

How to date without drinking? 

Start with a walktail.

In addition to being a nerdy dad joke and conversation starter, the walktail is the best transition tip I've found to create a new dry dating default. Many of my clients report defaulting to bars and drinking activities like mimosa brunches, parties, etc., for their dates. At Lovewell, we encourage clients instead to start with either a short coffee or a walking or hiking date. Walking can be done at a museum, park, or Botanical Garden to stimulate conversation.  In San Francisco, finding an area of Golden Gate park to walk through and explore, like the tea garden, the De Young, the California Academy of Sciences, the Botanical Gardens, or the Conservatory of Flowers, can be a great way to do something healthy and exploratory together that does not involve drinking. Walking together or doing an activity together stimulates conversation healthily and is more accessible than sitting across from someone face-to-face and coming up with conversation topics. Studies show that side-by-side talking is easier than face-to-face.  You can also add a non-alcoholic beverage to your walktail. Anything from coffee or tea to sparkling water to an actual mocktail (like this one) will do.  

Benefits of a walktail: 

  • Act like yourself from the beginning, minus your liquid confidence
  • Mental clarity
  • Stable energy
  • No hangover
  • Natural vulnerability
  • Better identification of red flags 
  • Less oversharing, leading to no vulnerability hangover the next day!

What are some no-alcohol date ideas? 

As cuffing season and the holidays approach, we move our dates inside, and alcohol becomes a more accessible option to turn towards; it’s great to map out some no-alcohol date ideas. Here are a few to get started, and again, please add ideas to the comments below!

  • Walktails or walking dates 
  • Daytime Farmer’s Market Dates - do your grocery shopping together or plan to cook together and do the grocery shopping before and after
  • Go to yoga or meditation classes together
  • Take a walk through the botanical gardens
  • Have a picnic in a park
  • Go to a mocktail bar!
  • Go to a bar together and sketch together on a pad of paper while ordering soda water with bitters (and tipping your bartender generously)
  • Play tennis, pickle ball, or another sport together
  • Do the 36 questions together over a park picnic.
  • Do something adventurous together - ziplining, Stand-Up Paddling, surfing, etc. 
  • Take a cooking class together
  • Go to an art gallery together
  • Volunteer together (beach clean-up, anyone?)
  • Garden together
  • Try a spiritual event like a moon circle or sound healing together. Especially good if this is out of your comfort zone. I linked to one of my favorites in San Francisco led by married couple Arula and Nick

Is there a dating site for non-drinkers?

The following are some apps for non-drinkers. The last two, Meet Mindful and Hinge, are not technically sober sites, but as a conscious dating app, Meet Mindful has a higher concentration of sobriety. The hinge allows you to specify your drinking habits and see those of others. 

  • Loosid
  • Clean And Sober Love
  • Single And Sober
  • 12 Step Match
  • Love In Recovery
  • SoberGrid
  • MeetMindful
  • Hinge
  • Nudge - an honorary inclusion. This text opt-in is specific to San Francisco and offers date and general planning ideas that usually do not include alcohol. 

 If you've been thinking about a more sober life in general, here are some resources in addition to Hip Sobriety to help support you on that journey. There are traditional models like AA that encourage you to go cold turkey, but there are also models geared towards what is called "harm reduction" and just using less alcohol in general.

I also encourage getting really creative with your mocktail game as there are now tons of products available that allow you to unwind with a beverage that doesn't involve altering your mindstate too extensively. 


Online Support Groups: 


Alcoholics Anonymous

Refuge Recovery (Buddhist influence)



Quit Like A Woman

This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol

Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction

Recovery Coaches: 

Christy Duggan Osborne



Seedlip: The trendsetter of spirit alternatives


Ritual Tequila Alternative

Optimist Botanicals (have a mezcal option!)

Kin Euphorics

The Zero Proof: aka Non-alcoholic beverage heaven

Again, add favorites, mocktail recipes, dry date ideas, and more in the comments! 


Lastly, please reach out if you need dating support! 

Work with one of our virtual certified dating coachesc or online relationship counselors to further support your dating mindfully, consciously, and without alcohol! Read our bios in the About (link to About page) section. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Q1. What does dry dating mean?
A. Dry dating is essentially sober dating. The term refers to spending time with your dates alcohol-free. Dry dating makes it more likely that you will be yourself on the date rather than compensating with alcohol. It also makes it more likely that you will have better discernment and make better choices about who to date. Added bonus is that you'll feel healthier and have less hangover remorse the next day.


Q2. What do you do on a first date if you don't drink?
A. It's great to do an activity together if you are on a dry date. Activities can range from a simple walk to a specific class, show, or museum exhibit.  If you're both into adventures, an activity that gets your adrenaline going could be a great date idea, i.e. sailing, ziplining, or river rafting. Get creative! 


Q3. Why do you not drink on the first date?
A. It's often a good idea not to drink on the first date to accurately assess whether you want to see the person again. When you are drunk, you may overlook faults, or inaccurately assess compatibility. Drinking less on dates helps develop confidence and connection in a slow and iterative way. If you are just starting to experiment with dry dating, not every date needs to be sober, but at least two of your first five dates with a person should be so you know that you like the person.



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