Drinking and Dating: Basic 'Dos and Don'ts' For When You Meet Offline
Whether you're heading out for St Patrick's Day or not, it's important not to overdo it on the Dutch courage.
We've all been there. We meet our date for the first time and the first thing they say? 'Let's grab a drink...' Why? Because frankly, regardless of how disastrous (or surprisingly wonderful) your date turns out to be, the enjoyment of a cold alcoholic beverage is something you'll initially agree on.
But the truth is this: when you mix first dates with alcohol, it can result in a dangerous cocktail - especially if you don't follow some very basic rules.
To guide you, here are the key 'Dos and Don'ts' for drinking on a first date to ensure your safety, and ensure that the all-important first impression is a good one.
...ask the question beforehand
It's important not to assume that your prospective date drinks. Indeed, 'dry dating' has become a trend for good reason, and drinking alcohol is not a habit that everyone likes to embrace.
Suggesting meeting up in a bar can appear to be a little forward - but it's a great opportunity to discover more about your date and establish their preferences.
They may respond with "Actually, I don't drink," which is completely acceptable and something which shouldn't be pushed or challenged.
...consider the venue - and your drink choices
Where you go, and what you choose to drink can reveal a lot about you on a first date.
If you suggest meeting in the local boozer, that's absolutely fine - but think about how comfortable and special that might make your date feel. Equally, booking a Michelin star restaurant - especially if you might be splitting the bill - may be somewhat presumptuous if you don't yet know the other person very well.
What you order can also be telling. Sure, ordering half a shandy at a craft brewery suggests that you might be unadventurous; taking shots at dinner might give the indication that you're prioritising getting drunk ahead of getting to know the person you're with; and if your first drink is a double neat spirit, this may be seen as a red flag.
...pair your booze with food
We've all been told that 'eating's cheating' when it comes to a night out. You might also not want to take your date for full dinner on the first meeting. Indeed, if you don't end up clicking, it could be a lot of money to spend on someone you don't want to see ever again.
However, if can be advisable to order some light food or snacks to coat your stomach and stop you from getting drunk too quickly.
...order a second round – but only if there’s chemistry
Date one is like car shopping: You might see it and initially and think ‘Yes – this is it!’ But then, the test drive doesn't go as smoothly as planned, and you just don’t feel it. Similarly, there are times during first dates when the chemistry simply isn’t there.
This can feel like somewhat of a let-down, but it’s absolutely fine to acknowledge that you're not that into him or her. Contrary to popular belief, you don't owe this person anything -- you promised a first date, and that's it. It’s actually kinder to politely finish the night off instead of ordering additional rounds, sending mixed messages, and using people as company – or for free drinks.
As a rule of thumb: Drink One is customary; Drink Two can be used to feel your date out a bit more; but Drink Three and beyond is reserved for someone you're definitely into.
...be tempted to drink before your date
It’s natural to have First Date jitters. But don't try to placate your nerves with a martini or three at home before even heading out to meet your date.
Showing up with wine or beer breath is not going to make the best first impression - it might also suggest that you're not taking the date seriously. Remember that it’d far easier to create a reputation than it is to erase one: don’t risk forever being that guy/girl who babbled incessantly about absolutely nothing before staggering home at 9pm.
...go for BYOB or Bottomless anything
For a start, it can make you look cheap. Remember – this is Date One: don’t you want to actually remember whether you liked them or not? For now, you’re better to take your time over a well-considered drink or two; sure – you may not get as much booze for your buck – but that’s not what matters here.
Once you’ve got to know one another and you're in a stable relationship, you can then enjoy as many bottomless mimosas as you can drink in 90 minutes: just now now.
...be tempted to ‘match’ your date drink-for-drink
If you're a 115lb person on a first date with someone built like Rob Gronkowski, don't even think about going drink-for-drink with them. You're not going to come across as ‘a lightweight’ if you slow down and stop ordering cosmos when you know you’ve had enough.
But you won’t look so good if you collapse in a heap or start crying because you miss your ex.
Yes – alcohol can provide us with Dutch courage. But once we’ve had too much, there’s no going back.
And most importantly...
First dates can be pretty stressful. Whether you’re being set up by a friend or have met someone on a dating app such as REDDI, that initial encounter is always nerve-wracking - so it's no surprise that we may opt for a little Dutch courage.
Aside from drinking responsibly, please don't forget these essential safety tips:
Tell someone where you're going
Give a friend or family member all the specific information about where you are meeting, who you’re going with (ideally including your date’s name and phone number) and when you expect to be home.
If anything changes during the course of the evening, let them know right away.
Meet in a public place
Make sure you set your date for a public place where you know for sure there’ll be lots of other people around.
Don’t arrange to meet at their apartment whatever you do! Arrange to meet at a familiar café or restaurant, or somewhere you tend to hang out anyway (this has the added bonus of relaxing you further too).
Make sure your phone is charged
Having plenty of battery will ensure that you can call someone if you need to. You can use it to text that the date is going well, but also for more serious reasons if something feels a bit off.
Don't leave your drink unattended
No one wants to think of their date slipping something into their drink (such as gamma hydroxybutyrate or Rohypnol which are odourless and colourless date rape drugs) but sadly it does happen.
If you need to go to the bathroom, finish your drink first. And remember to take your handbag, phone or wallet with you for extra security.
Trust your gut if something doesn't feel right
If you feel uncomfortable at any point, get out of there! No hesitation needed; ONE red flag is enough. Watch out for anything they say, do or imply that makes you think twice (think dodgy comments, acting overly familiar too quickly, or anything that sets off your instincts) and respond accordingly.
If you feel comfortable hot-footing it out of there and can hop straight in a Uber, go for it. Or text a friend to come and meet you. Uber even has a brilliant function where you can share your trip as well, so if on your way home you can alert your friend.
If you feel more comfortable having an 'out' in case the date goes awry, tell your date that you to leave to meet your friends afterwards.
There’s no need to feel guilty or rude, just make your excuses and leave. Your safety is most important.
Always stay in control when drinking alcohol. Know your limits and never push them. A few more drinks may seem like fun at the time, but it's rarely a good idea.
If drinking on a date, with friends, at family events, or on your own is beginning to feel like a necessity rather than an option, it might be time to seek help.
You can find out more, including some statistics regarding alcohol and dating - including 'The Tipping Point' - you can read this guide from alchohol.org.
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