First Date Drinks Are Out, Sober Dating Is In (Apparently)

According to Hinge, we're in for a summer of "zero-proof dating"

Close-up photo shows a couple clinking martini glasses on a date at a bar
First date drinks are no longer a go-to, apparently.
The Good Brigade

“Meeting for drinks” is my favorite form of human interaction. Friend wants to hang out? Let’s meet for drinks. Old coworker is in town? Let’s meet for drinks. First date? We’re obviously meeting for drinks. Unless, of course, we happen to be among the (frankly shocking) majority of Hinge users who are apparently over drinking on dates.

According to the dating app, meeting for drinks on a date is out, and “zero-proof dating” is in this summer. Recent Hinge data suggests that 75% of the dating app’s users would prefer not to drink on dates, which, frankly, I find shocking to the point of disbelief.

Obviously I’m aware that sobriety has gotten trendy in recent years, especially among members of younger generations. I’m also aware of the supposed advantages of sober dating (though, as someone who has not been sober on a date since college, I cannot vouch for them personally). These, according to Hinge users, include being able to forge a real connection with another person that isn’t influenced by rose-colored booze glasses, having the capacity to make informed decisions about the person you’re with and whether or not you’re actually into them, and, of course, generally not being a sloppy nightmare.

These are all good things! That said, I still don’t think three-quarters of the single population is suddenly going to stop drinking on dates — especially not first dates. Why? Because first dates are awkward. Alcohol makes things less awkward (up until a certain point where it makes things more awkward, but not usually till the next day). You never really know what you’re walking into on a first date, especially a first date with a stranger from a dating app, and there’s nothing wrong with greasing the wheels with a little social lubricant.

Also, meeting for drinks is an ideal first date. It’s relatively low-key and low-pressure, but highly customizable. Based on the establishment of your choice, you can lean more chill or more upscale. You have enough one-on-one time to get to know each other without the pressure and intimacy of a sit-down dinner, and you can easily extend or curtail the evening at will depending on how everything’s going. Not a match? You can politely dip after one drink. Soulmates? You can go several rounds, wind up at another bar and then elope if you want.

Dates that are not meeting for drinks suck, because they usually try way too hard to replace the drinking part with some other “activity.” This is a bit of a divisive take, but an activity is rarely a good date. It’s never a good first date. I don’t want to go to a museum where we have to try to get to know each other by pretending to talk about art. I don’t want to go bowling with you. And I definitely do not want to meet you for a run in the park. Sorry, but being sweaty and out of breath does not a good first impression make.

And yes, I’m aware that people can “meet for coffee” or just order a non-alcoholic beverage. I’m not even saying that’s a bad thing or that all dates have to involve alcohol. I’m just saying that I don’t think the good old-fashioned “meet for drinks” first date is actually going anywhere. If you nerds (kidding, kind of!) want to meet up for coffee or water with a lemon slice or whatever, that’s your prerogative. But if you ask me out this summer, we’re meeting for drinks. Also, you’re paying for them.

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