Sober Date Ideas

There are plenty of reasons to avoid alcohol while you are dating or even in your daily life, whether you abstain for religious reasons, you’re in recovery after a drinking problem or you just don’t like it. But in a country that is very alcohol-centric, it can seem like you’re the odd one out when it comes to drinking. Close to 60 percent of Americans report drinking alcohol at least once a month. Although many Americans drink without developing a problem, 16.6 million adults have an alcohol use disorder.

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Since many people drink during social occasions, planning fun dates without alcohol may seem like a disappointing task. This can be even more difficult if you have a hard time finding potential dates who support your decision not to drink.

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If you are looking for a significant other and you don’t drink, your supportive friends can be a great resource for finding someone with similar interests. Community groups, such as support groups and church meet-ups, are another good way to meet single people with similar interests, although most support groups advise against dating someone else in recovery. But surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family who have similar lifestyles can greatly increase your chances of finding a partner. You should never be put in a position where someone tries to make you feel bad about suggesting sober date night ideas.

If you prefer to look online for love, there are several drinking-free websites that can help you find a match with people who are open to sober first date ideas, including nondrinkersdating.com and soberandsingle.com. If you use more mainstream dating sites like match.com, you should be honest in your personality questionnaire if you are looking for a date who doesn’t drink at all or who only drinks in moderation.

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How to Tell Your Date You Don’t Drink

When you are meeting someone for a first date, it can be difficult to know how to bring up the subject of your alcohol-free life. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll be judged harshly or that your date will try to pressure you to drink, especially if they enjoy drinking themselves. That’s why it’s usually best to plan the first few meet-ups around sober date ideas where there isn’t the possibility of drinking.

There are a few different approaches you can take to telling your date you are alcohol-free. The first is the most direct — simply let them know in your earliest communications that you are a non-drinker and would appreciate if they can work with you to find fun dates without alcohol.

If you are in recovery or have recently stopped drinking for any reason, you might feel less confident about this approach, or maybe you worry about the follow-up questions your date might ask. Remember there’s no need to share more information than you feel comfortable with.

If you mention to them in your earliest communications that you prefer date ideas with no drinking and they react negatively, they probably aren’t right for you. As someone who doesn’t drink, you should expect — and demand — to be with someone who respects your decisions. Your own well-being comes first, so don’t feel bad about cutting off a relationship if it doesn’t support your lifestyle.

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If you haven’t brought up the idea of working together to find fun, sober date ideas, you might be faced with the offer of alcohol while you’re together. If a waitress brings you a drink menu and asks what you’ll have, be confident in saying “just a soda” or whatever your drink of choice may be. If this is new to you, practice saying it ahead of time so you won’t feel tempted to order a glass of wine, even if it’s just for show.

Before you start exploring sober things to do with a date, decide ahead of time what your comfort level is with other people who might drink. If you are okay with your date having a drink or two, you can tell them that you’re not drinking, but they should go ahead and order for themselves. If being around people who do drink alcohol is too much of a temptation or makes you feel unsafe, it’s best to convey this before you go to a place that serves alcohol.

Remember, even though you have made a decision to avoid alcohol, other people have made the opposite decision. Just as you don’t want to feel pressured to drink or made to feel bad about your choices, you shouldn’t judge someone else who makes the decision to drink, assuming they can do so in an adult, responsible manner.

When You Date Someone Who Doesn’t Drink

Dating, in general, can be a nerve-wrecking experience. As a society, we have come to use alcohol as a tool to help us buffer those awkward pauses and lulls in conversation and to lower our inhibitions when in social situations. Starting a new relationship with someone who does not drink alcohol when you are happy to enjoy a libation may seem daunting, but it just might be the perfect way to begin a friendship that blossoms into a love affair.

It’s likely you will not know your date doesn’t drink until the moment when beverage orders are taken, be it at a party or out at a restaurant. When they refuse the offer, keep your cool. This encounter not only tells you something important about them, but it will tell them something equally important about you — are you comfortable enough to let them be themselves? Whether you’re the occasional social drinker or a nightcap-every-evening kind of person, you may find yourself caught off guard that your date has a strict no-alcohol policy.

If they decline alcohol and don’t indicate that it’s fine for you to order a drink, you should always ask them if they mind if you have a drink. If they tell you to go ahead and drink, take them up on the offer. Don’t abstain from drinking out of guilt. Just as they need to be comfortable to be themselves without a drink, you should be comfortable to be yourself with a glass of merlot in hand.

If you don’t have a drink even though you really wish you could, this may lead to resentment down the road and, at a minimum, will not get your dating relationship off to a good start. As with any social situation, you should drink in moderation. This point is even more important when spending time with someone who is not drinking. When everyone at the table is drinking, getting a bit tipsy under safe conditions can be a blast. If it’s just the two of you and only one of you is drinking, it can make for a very long — and uncomfortable — night out if your date has to endure your larger-than-life personality.

Your reaction to your date not having alcohol will tell them volumes about you. Whatever you do, don’t try to pressure them into drinking. This is likely not the first time they’ve decided to decline a drink. They have their reasons, and no matter how the rest of the date goes, you need to be respectful of their choice not to drink alcohol.

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Don’t take it personally — it’s not about you in this case. Over the course of the date or future dates, you will learn why they choose not to drink. Keep in mind, choosing to drink alcohol is a personal choice and the choice not to drink probably has personal reasons behind it. Did they grow up in a family with an alcoholic parent or family member? Does alcohol make them violently ill? Are they an alcoholic themselves? Were they the victim of an alcohol-related sexual assault? Were they involved in an alcohol-related traffic accident? These are all natural questions to ask yourself and, eventually, as your relationship builds, the answers to those questions will reveal themselves. The key is to not pressure them to drink if they don’t want to or make them justify their choice to you.

A positive aspect of dating someone who doesn’t drink alcohol is that you will get to know the real them more quickly. As you spend time with them, the feedback and connections they have with you will be grounded in reality and not blurred snapshots of a date they can hardly remember.

Now that you know your date doesn’t drink alcohol and you’ve learned their comfort level in being around others who are drinking, keep that in mind for future dates. While it might seem like a big deal to you, if you are planning an outing and take the time to consider fun sober date ideas for your time together, it will show your date that you’re both thoughtful and comfortable with who they are socially and privately.

Alcohol-Free Date Ideas

We’ve compiled a list of sober date ideas that are perfect whether you are alcohol-free yourself or if you’re dating someone who is. Each date idea is based on cost, romance level and the amount of planning that goes into it. Although almost any date activity can be enjoyed with or without alcohol, these are some of the best ideas for getting to know someone without the need for drinking.

Romance level guide:
♥ — Quiet and intimate
♥ ♥ — Mellow and relaxing
♥ ♥ ♥ — You’re cooking now
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ — Tons of fun
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ — Hold on to your hats!

Have a Coffee Date

Estimated cost: $15+
Romance level: ♥
Planning level: Easy

Meeting your date for coffee has almost become a cliché, but there are plenty of reasons why this idea is so popular. First, a coffee date is casual. You’ll want to look nice, but there’s no need to fuss over a formal outfit. Second, it can be over quickly or you can linger for a few hours if you hit it off. There are few things more awkward than having to sit through a long dinner with someone you don’t really like or don’t have much in common with. A coffee date can be over in as little as 30 minutes without the guilt of leaving early. On the other hand, if you do feel chemistry with each other, you can sit and keep talking for hours. Just order another round of joe or split a cake or muffin, depending on your coffee shop’s offerings.

Coffee dates are also great when you don’t want alcohol to be an issue since no one will hand you a wine list or rattle off drink specials — except for the caffeinated kind!

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Spend the Day at a Theme Park

Estimated cost: $100+
Romance level: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Planning level: Moderate

This is a pricier date idea, with average theme park ticket prices coming in around $50 each. You’ll also need to consider the cost of food and parking. With this in mind, it’s probably a good idea to plan a theme park date when you are a littler deeper into the relationship, as opposed to a first date.

But still, theme parks make a great date idea. Think of the options at your fingertips — fun rides, high-quality shows and arcade games. Visiting a theme park with a date is also a good way to get to know each other better. Who can avoid sharing stories about their favorite childhood memories at an amusement park? And depending on the time of year you visit, some parks host firework shows and holiday displays, both of which can increase the level of romance on your date.

Visit a Museum

Estimated cost: Free-$30
Romance level: ♥ ♥ ♥
Planning level: Moderate

If you have a museum in your town or there’s one close enough for a quick afternoon drive, this casual date idea is a good way to get to know more about each other’s interests. Viewing art together — or dinosaurs, historical exhibits or science displays — offers a natural conversation-starter as you share your thoughts with one another. It can also help you find some common interests.

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Check the museum’s website ahead of time to see if they have a café or restaurant so you can combine your visit with a meal break. Even better, if your museum has a planetarium, schedule your trip around the show times. You and your date can spend part of the day gazing up at the stars together, without the worry of bad weather.

Take a Unique Shopping Trip

Estimated cost: No limit
Romance level: ♥ ♥ ♥
Planning level: Easy

Everybody has a store they’d like to visit if they had enough time, so here’s your chance. Take your date on a unique shopping trip, either to make actual purchases or just to window shop. Browsing a hat store, flea market or used bookstore can be a relaxing, silly way to spend an afternoon. If your town has a shopping district, you can probably spend an entire day wandering from one unique shop to another. The best part is, you can spend a lot of money or nothing at all, so it’s well within your budget.

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Get Crafty

Estimated cost: $30-$60
Romance level: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Planning level: Easy

Making pottery or painting a picture side by side is a creative outlet that keeps you focused on your artwork rather than on any awkward silences that might pop up during your date. And even if the relationship doesn’t work out, you’ll get a cool souvenir from it and you’ll be able to expand your artistic ability. Some events require pre-registration, so check on your local availability before you show up.

Go Bowling

Estimated cost: $30
Romance level: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Planning level: Easy

As long as both you and your date are good sports who aren’t overly competitive, bowling is a fun way to spend an evening or afternoon. Seeing how your date handles winning or losing gives you a peek into their personality and temperament. Plus, it’s difficult to take yourself too seriously in those ridiculous-looking shoes. What’s not to love?

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Host a Game Night

Estimated cost: Free
Romance level: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Planning level: Moderate

If you have friends in common or you’re looking for a fun way to introduce your date to your own friends, getting a group together for board games can be a lot of fun. Scrabble, Yahtzee and Heads Up are easy to play and let you and your date work as a team or go head-to-head. Just make sure your guests understand the goal of the evening — you don’t want someone showing up with a bottle of wine if this is supposed to be a non-alcoholic date night.

Have a Netflix Marathon

Estimated cost: Free
Romance level: ♥
Planning level: Easy

As long as you and your date have common viewing interests or are willing to be exposed to something new, kicking back on the couch and binge-watching television is a great way to bond. Stock up on fun snacks, pile up some pillows and put up your feet. Think about watching your favorite movie with your date and sharing memories of the first time you saw it, or have a marathon of the latest crime drama and try to figure out who did it as a team.

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Hunt for Treasure

Estimated cost: Free
Romance level: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Planning level: Moderate

Join a modern day treasure hunt by geocaching with your date. Using a hand-held global positioning system (GPS) or a GPS-enabled phone — basically any smartphone with Internet access — you can search for hidden treasures called “caches.” Most caches are hidden in parks or forests, making this a good way to get out of the house and into nature. There’s also a certain amount of hiking and adventure, like traversing small streams, that will keep you on your toes as you and your date work together to decipher clues and find the cache.

You can also choose to find a cache in an urban area that might take you to a new part of town you can explore together. Geocaching can take as long as you like — you can find a multi-stage cache that takes several hours or just grab a quick one near your favorite coffee shop.

Tour Your City — or One Nearby

Estimated cost: $30-$80
Romance level: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Planning level: Moderate

You know those silly tour buses and boats that sightseers pack themselves into? The ones you laugh at? They’re actually a lot of fun and can show you a side of your city you never knew about. Spend an afternoon acting as a tourist in your own town and visit some of the hot spots. Just be sure to check on your tour’s availability and try to plan your date around the busy season so you can enjoy the scenery together comfortably instead of being smashed between a vacationing family taking photos of every street corner.

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If you are in need of support for an alcohol addiction, the staff at 12 Keys Rehab is available to help you address your needs. As one of the most successful drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs in the nation, we are available around the clock to assist you with decision-making that will help you recover. Contact 12 Keys and start your journey to recovery today.

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