9 Sober Spring Dates That That'll Bring You Closer

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As someone who's dated more than I've been in actual relationships throughout my life, I know that drinking on a date can be a great icebreaker when you're first hanging out with someone. But the problem with our super alcohol-friendly culture is that even if we don't have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, it can become a crutch when we're dating. This is most especially the case when you first start dating someone new. However, it's in these clouded states of drunkeness or even tipsiness that not only are our of decisions impaired, but that we don't really get to know the person we're dating in a real way. Instead, we get to know the person with alcohol in their system and that hardly makes for a substantial relationship.

"There are virtually no challenges non-drinkers face when dating, unless you're someone who relies on alcohol for liquid courage," Thomas Edwards Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Bustle. "A true advantage for non-drinkers is their minds are always clear enough to make consistently great decisions."

So if you're ready to skip the alcohol and try out some sober dates, here are nine ideas for dates that will bring you closer.

1Volunteer Together

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I've been on dates in which we volunteered and it was great! Of course any date that involves puppies is going to be fantastic. However, if you chose an animal shelter, as we did, you want to make damn sure you have the strength to walk away empty-handed unless you think you're really ready for a dog.

"If you choose an organization you both care about and spend a date volunteering, you have a chance to bond with your date over doing something nice for others," recovery and lifestyle coach, and columnist for The Observer, Randi Newton, tells Bustle.

2Choose An Outdoor Activity You Both Enjoy

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Since it is spring after all, you want to get outside and enjoy the weather, and choosing an "activity date," especially early on while dating someone is fantastic for bringing you closer.

"You create intimacy by doing,” Rhonda Milrad, Founder and Chief Relationship Advisor, Relationup, tells Bustle. “People create connection by experiencing and engaging in a task together. The event itself creates an opportunity to interact in ways that don’t occur when you are sitting politely across the table from one another. In an activity, you are negotiating, compromising, collaborating, demanding, sharing, and often working toward a common goal.”

Also, activity dates that can give you one hell of a thrill, like rock climbing or skydiving, won't just create intimacy, but heighten attraction to each other. Research has found that fear is a natural aphrodisiac.

3Take A Class Together

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Similar to volunteering on a date, taking a class together also shows what passions you share. When we experience sharing passions and interests together, it can definitely provide for some bonding moments.

"You can take tons of classes, from flower arranging to soap making to glass blowing — anything really," says Newton. "It's great for potential romantic partner, meaning you just started dating them, or even a long-term partner."

4Read To Each Other In The Park

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“For something a bit different, get your partner comfortable and take turns reading them a story,” James Preece, aka The Dating Guru, tells Bustle. “It doesn’t matter what it is — it could be a fairytale, thriller, or comedy. It just gives you the opportunity to spend time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company, while making sure they feel special.”

Great weather, plus a picnic, plus reading to each other? Now that's a sober date that's intimate and will bring you closer for sure.

5Go To A Cat Cafe

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"Most cat cafes aren’t real 'cafes'," says Newton. "They're places where you go in and pay per 30 minutes to hang out with cats. It’s a good gauge to see how the person you like treats animals. How someone treats animals says a lot about them."

Yes! More animal dates! But seriously, Newton has a great point here. How someone treats animals and how they treat servers at restaurants can really provide insight into who they really are.

6Go To A Coffee Shop

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Although it might seem unoriginal in theory, spending hours at a coffee shop, drinking iced lattes, talking — and talking and talking and talking — is definitely going to lead to getting closer to your date.

"A coffee shop date is great, too," says Newton. "That way both parties can meet in a semi-quiet environment over a cup of coffee where you can really get to know each other in a space amongst other people who aren't drinking."

7Take A Roadtrip

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Whether it's a first date or your 15th date, there's nothing quite like getting out of your familiar surroundings and going on a mini-road trip, even for just the day. And this time of year, with the windows down and the wind in your hair, is ideal for such a date.

"Creating memories and moments that truly reflect your feelings for each other is what it’s all about," Tyler Turk, Founder of Crated With Love, tells Bustle. "Like a day trip to a nearby destination.”

8Go Appetizer Hopping At Happy Hour

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Just because you don't drink doesn't mean you should miss out on bonding over happy hour — and getting good deals in the process. As an Italian chef once told me, breaking bread together and sharing laughs is as intimate as two people can get outside of having sex. If that breaking of "bread" is actually a pizza, then I totally agree with him.

"Thankfully places with deals on drinks usually have good deals on appetizers," says Newton. "Do research and pick an area that has some prime eating spots.

9Take A Walking Tour

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"I met my boyfriend for a cup of coffee for our first date," says Newtown. "We ended up walking around Central Park for four hours, talking and getting to know each other the whole time, as well as taking in the beauty of the park. It's because of this experience, that I suggest taking a walk tour. Every city has them for free. And if the tour isn't your thing, you can literally walk away from it and continue on your own walking tour."

Ultimately, when it comes to intimacy-building dates that don't involve drinking, the key is to either focus on communicating or jumping outside your comfort zone. Not only are these dates fun, but sobriety definitely gives you a better perspective of the person you're dating.