Have a look at dating profiles. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Something you’ll notice is that almost every profile suggests “getting a drink” as a first date activity. In theory, it’s a great idea. Getting a drink means you’re really only committing to a short date that you can always extend by ordering another.
However, there’s one time where that line is a bit of a bummer: when you don’t drink. I’ve never had alcohol in my life and don’t intend to start now, when ankle-deep into my 30s. Because of this, my dating life tends to go a little differently.
- It’s easy to know when someone doesn’t read my profile. As soon as a guy asks if he can take me out for drinks, I know he only skimmed my dating profile, if that. I’m not shy about the fact that I don’t drink, so this is a really good way to weed people out if I’m on the fence.
- I don’t always know how to react to the question. Let’s say there’s a guy I really like, and he asks me out for drinks. An internal struggle always happens. If I say I don’t drink alcohol, he might change his mind about me. Or he might say, “I know, but I didn’t realize you hate bars.” And I don’t! But if I just say yes, he’s likely to be very confused once I start ordering Shirley Temples.
- There’s an easy alternative. You know what has all the positives of “getting a drink” with none of the negatives? Getting a cup of coffee. You can be in and out if the date doesn’t go well, and you can always sit in that cozy coffee shop for hours downing hot cocoa after hot cocoa while you bond over you both having gone to summer camp as kids.
- People assume a lot of things about you. Whether it’s a potential date or a new friend, there are some serious assumptions when you say you don’t drink. Most people think it’s for religious reasons (it’s not), and I even had one person assume I was a recovering alcoholic (definitely not).
- I lose out on invitations. We’ve started dating and it’s going very well. Then one day I learn he’s at a party and when I say that it would have been cool to go, he says, “But you don’t drink. I didn’t think you’d like to go to a party.” This problem has been following me around since I was a teenager. I love parties and I love happy hour (Yay! Discount appetizers!), so if you ask me to go to either, I’ll probably say yes. Plus, even if I say no, it still feels good when to get asked.
- I get judged. It feels incredibly awkward to me that some people can think so negatively about me when they learn I don’t drink. Turns out, I’m the weird one. I don’t like to lose self-control, and that makes me the odd one out. Some acceptance would be nice.
- I can’t use drinking as an excuse. Sometimes I really envy drinkers. Not for the hangovers or the blackouts or the poor decisions, but because if they profess their feelings to their crush or they go in for a first kiss, they can always blame their buzz for doing it. Speaking of which…
- One-night-stands probably aren’t going to happen. Have you ever had a one-night stand? If so, think back on that night. Were you drunk? Odds are, you were. Because when you’re completely sober, it’s awfully hard to find the courage and recklessness you need to justify banging a stranger knowing full well that you’ll never see him again. And, like the last point, sometimes it’d be nice to use alcohol as an excuse to do these things.
- It’s rare to find other non-drinkers. Most people drink. Some drink more than others, but it’s still a pastime for most people. Because of that, I can’t be picky. No, I won’t go for the guys whose only pictures are of them hoisting solo red cups in the air, but I certainly won’t discount a guy just because he has a love for craft beers. Also, when you do find a guy who doesn’t drink, the conversation usually starts with, “Wow! You don’t drink either?! Cool!”
- I remember everything with perfect clarity. I have the comfort of knowing that when he goes in for that first kiss, and the moment is totally fairy-tale-in-real-life magical, I’m going to remember it. And that’s great!