Sex and dating without alcohol

Lauren Booker | January 2024 | 8 minutes

Sober dating doesn’t need to be scary, but for some the very idea sends shivers down their spine. Don’t worry! This blog, adapted from our book, Try Dry: The Official Guide to a Month Off Booze, should help you feel more confident.

And it has some great advice about sober sex, too!

Why do people hit the booze on dates?

A Glasgow University study concluded that drunk males and females find each other more attractive than when sober. Really? Who’d have thought?

But there’s more to it than ‘booze gets you in the mood’. A fascinating experiment in the US explored whether just being around alcohol cues, such as words or images of alcohol, caused men to see women as more sexually attractive. And it did. Even though the men weren’t actually drinking, they rated women as more attractive.

There you have it. When it comes to sexiness, our expectations of alcohol influence our perceptions. It’s all about how we think the alcohol will make us feel. After a few dates without booze, you’ll have a much more realistic idea of who you find attractive and who just looks better with beer goggles.

Dry dating

If you’ve not done it for a while – or ever, for that matter – sober dating is a skill that takes practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. These days, sober is the new black and rather than shun you, you’re just as likely to encounter ‘No way! Me too!’ when you let slip your little secret.

Why try dating sober:

1) Sober and sexy

Despite the fact that we all connect booze with getting in the mood, you can still be sexy and sober. Sexier, even. You know what’s sexy? Eye contact. Listening more than talking. Smiling. Being confident enough to go on a date sober. Flirting subtly.

2) In vino veritas

Ever said too much too quickly on a date? Was there alcohol involved? Of course there was. Without booze you’re more likely to slow the pace and spend more time getting to know the person. Under the influence of alcohol, we can think that we’re a lot closer to someone than dinner and a snog really warrants.

3) Reading signals right

You know those dates where everything seems perfect and you think your date is into you and then they don’t return your calls? You’re confused – it all went so well. That happens a lot less when you’re sober dating. If they don’t call you’ll probably know why, because without a drink you’ll be better at reading their signals. You’ll also be clearer with your own signals, so you’re less likely to find that the other person misunderstands what you think of them based on your booze enthusiasm rather than your true feelings.

Planning a date

Why not try something different? If there’s no pressure to drink because there’s no booze about, you can just be yourself.

How about a museum or an art gallery? Dinner is all very well and good but if the date isn’t going well it’s bad form to cut and run halfway through the main course. A museum date, on the other hand, can be as long or short as you like. It’s also a pleasant change not to feel as though you’re at an interview, being stared at across a table. Go for a walk. You might feel all walked out, but honestly, walking dates are enjoyable and easy! You don't need to worry about keeping up the conversation as you stroll along, and you could even pick up a takeaway coffee or tea or pop into a café along the way.

Sober sex

Just as real sex isn’t like porn sex, sober sex isn’t like alcohol-fuelled sex. Drunk sex is easy but sober sex takes a little more thought, a little more patience and a little more time. The effort is worth it. It’s just you and your partner. Or partners. Whatever floats your boat. Now, that can be a scary thought, especially if you generally count on being under the influence to get in the mood. But if you think you need alcohol to have sex . . . do I really need to finish that sentence?

Maybe you get a little less action, but it will be genuine desire that gets you into bed.

Sober sex is also likely to lead to better sex long term. You have the headspace to listen to your body. You’ll have a better memory of the experience, and so can learn and, more importantly, remember what works and doesn’t work for you and your sexual partner. On a purely practical level, having a bit more co-ordination in the bedroom can only be a good thing.

You can get extra support for your dry month by downloading Try Dry: the app for Dry January and beyond for free. For even more tips and tricks you could also buy the book, Try Dry: The Official Guide to a Month Off Booze.

You might also like to read...