5 Sober January Date Night Ideas

I decided to try a healthy eating cleanse, called Whole30, to get my habits back on track last year. Thirty (very, very difficult) days later, I not only successfully gave up sugar, dairy, gluten, legumes, and booze — I found out I was lactose intolerant. The hardest part of trying Whole30 wasn’t eating less, hitting the gym more often, the lack of good-for-you options at nearly restaurant in New York, or the high-ticket price of shopping organically for produce, meat, and fruits — it was trying to date without alcohol for 30 days.

It might sound kind of insane, but since I turned 21, that was the longest I’d gone without drinking. And maybe because I need a break from the holiday wine-a-thons, but I’m doing Whole30 again, and you guessed it — I’m still single. And hopefully, I’ll be going on dates during the month of January, so I’ll need some ideas that don’t involve grabbing a drink after work, a boozy brunch, or meeting someone for a drink on a Saturday night.

Here are some ideas I tried last year that were awesome, and a few more I’m adding to my sober-free dating bucket list in 2016:

1. Challenge Your Date To A Fitness Class

Last year, I fell in love with boxing. It lets you builds strength and lets you imagine every ex-boyfriend’s face on the bag. For a first date, boxing may be a little intense (and um, overly sweaty), but indoor cycling or yoga might be a good bet. After all, if you can work out together, you’ll likely flow in other ways well, too.

2. Wander Around A Flea Market Or Antique Mall

From 1980s movie memorabilia to dishwares that look like they belong in your grandma’s china cabinet, buying gently loved, secondhand goods can be an interesting way to spend a Saturday afternoon. You can have a competition to find the most ridiculous thing and grab coffee afterwards to chat about what you discovered. Speaking of coffee…

3. Coffee. All Of The Coffee.

I’m convinced that whoever I marry must love coffee or, at the very least, must be kind enough to bring me a cup when I wake up. It may seem a little intimidating to skip the flattering lighting of a speakeasy and meet where lights are bright and beans are strong, so go for a nighttime java instead. Many of your favorite Italian wine bars serve pretty incredible cappuccinos, and if your date would like to drink, they can still order from the booze selection.

4. Volunteer Together

Though you might want to save this idea until the third or fourth date, spending time giving back to those in a need is a great way to see what your could-be-boyfriend-or-girlfriend is really made of. You can stop by the humane society, serve food at a homeless shelter, or even read to the elderly. It’s a great way to build a connection that’s more intimate and powerful than flirting over gin martinis.

5. Try A Really Complicated Recipe

If you both like to cook, you’ve probably enjoyed a sleepover or two that involved creating something delicious, drinking a ton of wine and kind-of-eating, but mostly having great, boozy sex. If you’re not drinking, it can be more fun to try a complicated recipe that takes a long time — think Baked Alaska or rolling your own pasta — so you have to work together to make it happen. Cooking is still sensual without alcohol, I promise.

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