Dry dating is the trend that has singles meeting up for the first time without involving alcohol in the date.
There’s a new trend in the world of dating, and it’s a surprising holdover from the COVID-19 pandemic. When lockdowns closed bars and pubs, singles looking to mingle had to find other ways of making new connections, such as going on walks, playing board games, or engaging in other alcohol-free activities. Now dry dating is gaining popularity as people find that they enjoy the deeper and more genuine connections they can make while sober.
Many people who used to always go to pubs or bars for first dates are now deliberately choosing to meet without access to alcohol. Some say that they got used to drinking less during the height of the pandemic; others point toward a post-pandemic perspective shift that has them seeking more mindful and intentional relationships. A 2022 Bumble trends survey said that 34% of UK users were more likely to try dry dating now than they were before COVID-19.
While beer, cocktails, and wine used to be seen as necessary ingredients for getting to know someone, sobriety seems to be pushing tipsiness out of the picture. Pop culture is full of references to people partaking in a little “liquid courage” before and during a first date, and it’s doubtful that the practice will ever vanish entirely. But the concept of dry dating has been trending for the past few years and it, too, seems here to stay.
Laura Silverman writes about the “booze-free lifestyle” on Booze Free in DC, a sobriety-centric website based in the Washington, DC area. “My vision is to combine my love of traveling to new places with my passion for sobriety and wellness. I got sober 15 years ago and things…looked a lot different then,” she said. “When I pick up a city guidebook and see all things booze — craft breweries, wineries, cocktail bars, distilleries, etc. — that can often feel alienating. I know if I feel that way, others do too.”
As the heading on Booze Free in DC says, they are “For the mindful drinker. For the sober curious. For the sober serious. For the parents-to-be. For the wellness wanderer.” Dry dating DC residents and visitors can log on to find creative ideas for alcohol-free entertainment in the nation’s capital.
Zero Proof Nation is Silverman’s other website and connects people who choose not to drink. One of the most interesting pages on her site is devoted to booze-free bars in the United States. While it seems like an oxymoron, these alcohol-free venues provide the same warm atmosphere that draws people to classic bars and pubs while providing creative alternatives to alcoholic beverages.
Folks wanting to bypass the buzz have more beverage options than ever. According to Business Insider, non-alcoholic beverage sales increased 31% in the United States between November 2020 and November 2021, with forecasters predicting global sales to reach into the billions soon. Many of the new drinks, such as Mockingbird Tequila, also have lower sugar and are made from healthier ingredients than their spirited counterparts.
In an interview with Stylist, 30-year-old Naomi Bridgman shared about her metamorphosis into the world of dry dating. She kicked her drinking habit by participating in Dry January 2022, an effort to begin the new year healthier, with more mindful habits. She found that many of her peers were focusing on similar goals in January.
“It definitely affects the way I behave and engage. Before when my first dates were centered around alcohol, I often found myself coming away and wondering if there was any connection or attraction. Or, if I did think there was a connection, I’d go on a second date and realize the only thing we had in common was enjoying pints in a pub,” she said.
Now Bridgman prefers going out for coffee or walking her dog in the park and says that these outdoor dates make it easier to be her authentic self. She plans to continue being sober on dry dates. However, some sober daters haven’t found it as easy to switch to booze-free outings.
People with social anxiety may find that a glass of wine takes the edge off their nerves, making them more comfortable as they meet someone new. But committed dry daters encourage them to give sobriety a try on their next date. They may also find new confidence in themselves as they make it through the initial awkwardness to experience genuine connection free from alcohol-induced distractions.