Going on a date sober seems like it should be so simple — but, if you've gotten used to pairing every date with a cocktail or a large glass of wine, it can be really intimidating. Many people start to think of dating and drinking as basically synonymous, but dating sober is actually a great opportunity to really get to know someone. “People get used to meeting one another romantically while under the influence," Grant Hilary Brenner, M.D. tells Bustle. "This often dates back to adolescence. Sober dating may mean the person feels insecure about dating... It's a great learning opportunity, however, if approached properly.”
With so many people taking up sober challenges over the winter and going a few weeks or a month without drinking, it's the perfect time to try out your sober dating skills. Though it may feel a little awkward at first, once you get used to making small talk without a drink in hand, you'll probably start to wonder what all the fuss was about. So here are 11 sober date ideas for getting through the winter months, because there are so many other ways to stay warm.
Try A Museum
Museums are a great place for sober dates — because you've got something to look at and talk about if you find the conversation becomes stilted. Plus, you'll get to show off to your date just how cultural you are (or can pretend to be). You may find that you have the same taste in art or you might find that neither of you know what's going on and just want to people watch — either way is totally fine. You don't have to be an art expert to enjoy wandering around a museum. When in doubt, just nod and hum a lot.
With the right equipment, winter can be a good opportunity to spend some time in the great outdoors. Except for the cold, the wet, the snow, and the ice. Some people can handle the weather year-round, but not all of us are so resilient. Roughing it not your thing? That's totally OK. Glamping, especially around New Year's Eve, makes the outdoors all the more bearable (and romantic). With a campfire and some s'mores, you won't even notice the lack of booze. And, a lot of glamping sites are perfect for the 'gram — think cozy throws and blankets, cushy pillows, and more.
Go To A Winter Movie Pop-Up
Holiday movies are a great date choice, because there's something really fun about getting a little nostalgic and snuggling up with a classic film. You may just want to avoid the tear-jerkers — I'm looking at you, It's A Wonderful Life. Lots of places have special winter-themed movie pop-ups, that may feature some comfortable seating, hot toddies or mulled wine, and, of course, lots and lots of popcorn. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for what's going on in your area to see if something seasonal comes along — but even a classic movie theater date night can do the trick.
Find A Fancy Hotel Bar
Just because you're not drinking, doesn't mean you can't go to a bar. In fact, even as a non-drinker I spend a lot of time in pubs, bars, and lounges — you'd be surprised at just how many non-alcoholic options are out there. Cocktail bars often have extensive mocktail lists or — for a real winter treat — hit up a fancy hotel bar that's bound to have a decadent hot chocolate option. Whipped cream, sprinkles, the works — there's no reason you can still feel like you're having a special drink, even if there's no booze involved at all.
Go To A Comedy Night
Comedy nights are a solid date choice, because you learn a lot about someone on a comedy night. A person's sense of humor can reveal a lot about them, so it's a great way to see if you're on the same page — comedy often deals with political or social issues, so it can be incredibly revealing far beyond the laughs. Plus, if the comedy is good then you'll laugh a lot, sober or not. If everything clicks just right, you may find that you're falling in love before you know it — just don't sit in the front couple of rows unless you really feel like getting interrogated by one of the comedians.
Get Your Holiday Shopping Done
You know how everything feels more intersting and fun during those early moments of a blossoming romance? Well, that's a great way to make your holiday shopping a little less boring. If you've been on a few dates, you can drag them along with you and make picking up those last-minute gifts all the more exciting. And really, if you want to know if someone likes you then the fact that they're willing to spend three hours wandering around Target and waiting in line in the middle of the holiday crowds should be a pretty resounding affirmative. Holiday shopping together is a sign of real commitment.
Go For A Walk
Sometimes, it's the simple things. As long as it's not a blizzard, getting a warm drink and going for a walk in the winter can be an easy date choice. With a cup of coffee or tea (or hot chocolate, obviously), you can wander around and you may just find that the conversation flows easier when you're wandering. Plus, this time of year often has the added bonus of holiday decorations — meaning it can be incredibly beautiful and definitely romantic. If you want to throw in a snowball fight or a snow angel along the way, even better.
Go For A Cooking Class
Cooking classes are a great date option — in part because it's an activity, so there's an opportunity for bonding. You're creating something together, you're experimenting — you're maybe even messing it all up and having to laugh at yourself. There's also another reason that cooking classes make good dates — food. Food makes everything better. That's just a science fact. You may even discover a new recipe that you like but, if you don't, you still get to eat whatever you make at the end of the class. Plus, you'll be so busy making a mess that you won't even notice the lack of alcohol.
Work Out Together
OK, so I know that working out as a date may sound like a ridiculous idea — and it may not be your thing. But for some people, it really works. If you're struggling to date without drinking, you might want to consider an environment where drinking wouldn't even be an option. Working out isn't everyone's idea of romance, but breaking a sweat together can be a lot of fun — and drinking probably won't even occur to you. Pair it with dinner or a coffee afterward for a chance to talk and you'll be able to get to know each other a little better.
Go To A Concert
Going to a concert is another date idea that will keep you so entertained that you won't even miss the alcohol — probably. Plus, you can find out if you have a similar taste in music, which is a definite win. It's not always the easiest to have a good, long conversation at the middle of a concert — so meet up for a coffee or a mocktail before or after if you want to get some quality time in.
Dating sober can feel like a whole new world if you're not used to it, but it should get easier after a date or two. Dating is all about getting to know someone, bonding, spending time together — and alcohol may help, but it's by no means a must. Once you get used to being on the dating scene without alcohol, you may even find that you like having your wits about you when getting to know someone and starting to judge your compatibility. It's all about getting the right dates early on. Pick dates that are going to keep your mind occupied and help the conversation flow and you should be just fine.
This post was originally published on November 12, 2018. It was updated on June 18, 2019.