Put that hoppy ale down, my friend. Drinks are not a prerequisite for getting to know someone. Dominique Howard is here to sing the praises of sober dating.
I’m thirty-five and I get nervous when I date.
I believe myself to be a confident and self-actualized being, but I use alcohol to feel comfortable in social situations. Whether a post-work pint, or cocktails for a birthday, drinking allows me to shed my self-conscious. Drinking makes me honest. I’m thirty-five and I have been on less than twenty dates.
For all my dating years I’ve been of the mind that a first date should be drinks only.
I no doubt deciphered this advice from a romantic comedy retired from my DVD collection (also retired). Anything longer than a drink seems like a time commitment.
Using the term “date” is usually the beginning of where my nervousness begins. Dating sometimes implies a game—a system that can be manipulated. Finding a partner, friendship, or otherwise is an art that cannot be quantified in “10 Tips to Trick Your 1st Date into Thinking You’re a Cool Person.” As a result of my apprehension I required copious amounts of alcohol to manage these encounters. Looking back, it’s interesting to see how defeatist my attitude was toward finding a potential partner. Somehow dating had become a chore; an activity to be suffered through to be later described in a humorous status update on Facebook.
Sober meet ups put the fun back into finding a potential partner and open me up to mindfully to new experiences.
Alcohol is a powerful substance that I myself don’t fully understand. There are times when I consume alcohol and have a merry time, and other times when alcohol has been the catalyst for me saying and doing things that do not fit within my personality.
Alcohol should be consumed in small amounts or preferably not at all during the dating process. More than alcohol impairing my judgment (although definitely an issue), it can affect my personality in ways it can be hard to foresee. I may say something or react in way that is unusual for me. When this is done amongst friends who know me in my natural state this has little effect. When I become inebriated and sing “Ice, Ice Baby” in a slightly aggressive manner on a first encounter with a potential romantic partner… this can lead to complications and miscommunication.
A first meet up should reflect me, not the six pints organic hops beer I consumed. When sober, I speak eloquently about my past experiences; but when even one alcoholic beverage is added to the mix, I adopt a tone that is foreign to my own ear.
Trying to address my nervousness with libations proved consistently ineffective. I realized that pre-meet up meditation or yoga put me in an open state to enjoy meeting someone. These viable alternatives help me connect with my body, mind and spirit and center me to be the person I am at my most comfortable state.
Meet ups can be organized so the lack of alcohol is less apparent. Meeting at a bar and ordering a Perrier may seem difficult, but reframing my meet up by making plans for lunch or tea break can often change the experience. Meet ups during the day often feel more casual with a wider option of casual places to enjoy conversation. Meet ups are done on what I call “neutral ground”—cafes and restaurants are common choices. These choices reflect my taste in food, but what does it say about me?
As an avid amateur indoor rock climber, I suggest this activity on any first meeting. It’s a casual setting and if my partner is familiar with the activity, we can enjoy it together. If they are new to the sport it gives me the opportunity to help them enjoy something that I enjoy and speaks to who I am as a person.
When asked about myself in a “date” setting, I often describe myself and my life in a similar fashion. Using the same sentences I’ve said on many occasions in similar situations. To my own ears it sounds rote. Breaking away from the usual activities allows me to verbalize my life in a more genuine manner. Activity settings allow my potential suitor to ditch their “best behavior” and adapt a natural voice. If on this fictitious rock climbing encounter my partner yells down to me to “give me some fucking slack” on the belay line, I might recognize our lack of compatibility sooner then if we got sauced up over small bites.
Everyone approaches meeting new people individually. Ditch the hangover for an experience that’s organic and enjoyable for all parties involved.[image: via Bailey Weaver on flickr]