Sober Dating: The Art of Getting Back Out There Without the Booze

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If you’re in recovery, you probably know that the dating scene is challenging to navigate. As hard as it is to meet someone new, it can be even tougher to break the ice when you aren’t using alcohol. 

After all, how can you meet new people if not at a bar or a club? And how can you be honest about your sobriety with someone you’ve recently started dating? 

Below, this post covers how to make sober dating an easier process—including how to meet new people without alcohol, navigating sobriety with someone new, and alcohol-free date ideas that are (actually) a lot of fun.

The Benefits of Dating Sober

couple drinking coffee and cuddling day date
Photo by Uriel Mont on Pexels

Despite the fact that sober dating can sound terrifying, it can actually come with some pretty surprising benefits. And if you’ve always relied on drinking to connect with people in the past, you may even find that it feels relieving to date without it.

So, what can you expect when you start dating without alcohol? On the surface, you can get to know people in newer, more interesting spaces (like parks or museums) instead of at a bar. You’ll also get a better chance to show your potential love interest the real you—the way you truly talk, feel, and act when you’re sober. Plus, you can get a clear sense of how you feel about a person, without alcohol muddying your perceptions.

While many relationships start from physical attraction, a lasting relationship is built on honesty, trust, and open communication.1 And this all becomes simpler when you’re dating sober. Ultimately, it can help you more easily move on from people who may not be a great match for you, and allow you to spend more time pursuing relationships that align with your values.

Meeting New People Without Alcohol 

Many of us have hazy memories of meeting new love interests at house parties, bars, or clubs. Connecting with potential romantic partners just seemed natural when the booze was flowing. 

But when you make the lifestyle change of going sober, everything else changes, too—including how you meet new people. If you want to get back into the dating scene in recovery but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you covered.

Below are some tips for meeting new people after you’ve quit drinking.

You can still use dating apps

We know—dating apps can seem like the Wild West at times. But there are still some great people on them. Plus, you can get the whole “sober” conversation over with from the get-go, whether you place it in your bio or mention it early on in your chats.

Attend a meetup

On, you can find countless places to meet like-minded people near your city. No matter what you’re interested in, there are in-person and live events to discover others who share your hobbies.

Try out a class

Interested in learning to paint? Or trying martial arts? Taking on weekly classes has you regularly hanging out with other people interested in the same things as you. Who knows—you might just meet someone you have chemistry with. 

Meet mutual friends through non-drinking activities

Get your friends together to check out a new city, an escape room, or an amusement park, and invite them to bring some of their other friends along, too.

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Talking About Sobriety With Someone New

When it comes time to tell your date that you’re sober, it’s normal to feel nervous. But think of it this way: If they aren’t interested in you because of your sobriety, they probably aren’t someone you’ll want to keep in your life anyway.

In any case, here are some tips that can make it easier to talk about being alcohol-free with a new romantic interest:

man carrying woman on his back
Photo by Hoàng Chương on Pexels
  • Get it out of the way ahead of time. If the thought of introducing your sobriety in person is anxiety-inducing, make sure to give your date a heads-up about it before you meet. If a sober partner is a deal breaker for them (and if they’re a good match, it won’t be), then you can part ways before things go any further.
  • Think about how you’ll elaborate on it in person. Your date will likely be curious about you, so be prepared for questions about why you don’t drink. Talking about sobriety is inevitable in sober dating, but the amount of detail you give is up to you. You can always keep it short and sweet and just say, “I used to drink, but it wasn’t for me. I like my life better without alcohol.”
  • Embrace honesty. Honesty about your sobriety will only help your date understand you more deeply. And if they aren’t looking for a sober partner, no harm done. That just opens the door for you to find someone better suited for you later on.

Navigating Sobriety in Relationships

Staying sober can make a big difference in the development of any budding relationship. Of course, every dynamic is different—but as you spend more time with your partner, you may find that you develop a deeper connection with them than you would if you’d been drinking.

At the same time, dating in recovery (especially early on) can come with unique struggles. You may have to learn how to navigate conflicts in a more direct way, practice setting boundaries, and use more open communication. Plus, there may be times in your relationship when you struggle with cravings or triggers. This is where recovery support from a treatment program, family members, or close friends is important.

On a brighter note, you’ll also get a chance to see what kind of partner you can be without alcohol. For instance, you can take this time to improve in areas where you might have fallen short in the past, like patience or accountability.2 Not only does this make for a happier relationship, but it can also help you grow closer to being the person you want to be.

Sober Date Ideas

It’s incredible just how much you can learn about a person when you’re dating without drinking. Sure, booze helps the conversation flow when you meet someone new. But sometimes, the chemistry you feel while drunk isn’t there when you wake up the next day. 

Dating sober is great because you can get a real sense of the connection you share with someone the first time you meet. 

Here are some fun ideas for sober dates to help you get to know someone better:

  • Find a wildlife refuge or nature preserve nearby and plan a hiking date. 
  • Grab a coffee and take a stroll around the city. 
  • Set up a picnic in a public park.
  • Go mini-golfing, bowling, or rock-climbing. 
  • Check out a carnival or fair. 
  • Visit a museum or outdoor sculpture garden.

Finding Confidence While Dating Sober

man and woman cuddling on beach blanket romantic evening
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels

Dating when you don’t drink can be challenging, especially if you’ve relied on alcohol to boost your self-esteem in the past. As you may know, building your confidence while sober is a journey. Fortunately, it can be made easier when you take the right steps. (Check out this post for an in-depth guide on gaining confidence without alcohol.)

Focus on positive self-talk and practice being your authentic self without drinking. As you spend more time socializing while sober, it will all start to come more naturally to you. 

For more support during your recovery, online alcohol treatment options like Ria Health can give you access to the resources you need. You don’t have to identify as an alcoholic to join, and our program can help you reach your personalized drinking goals, whatever they may be. 

Schedule a call today.


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Written By:
Alicia Schultz
Alicia is a Minnesota-based freelancer who writes for Ria Health and various other brands in the health and wellness space. Beyond addiction and recovery, she also covers topics relating to general well-being, mindfulness, fitness, mental health, and more. When she’s not writing, you can find her relaxing with her three-legged cat, trying new workout routines, and spending time with her loved ones.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
Evan O’Donnell is an NYC-based content strategist with four years’ experience writing and editing in the recovery space. He has conducted research in sound, cognition, and community building, has a background in independent music marketing, and continues to work as a composer. Evan is a deep believer in fact-based, empathic communication—within business, arts, academia, or any space where words drive action or change lives.
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