Sober Dating 101: A Guide to Romance and Sex for the Newly Sober

Tawny Lara


Nov 02, 2023

Close-up of an East Asian woman and a Black man standing facing each other, with big smiles on their faces.

The thought of dating without alcohol scared the hell out of me in early sobriety. How do I relax without taking a drink first?! What do we do if we’re not sitting at a bar?! How can I hook up without liquid courage?! 

Rest assured, this article will get you ready to go on a sober date and possibly even…have fun? 

Dating is awkward AF, y’all. That awkwardness alone kept me drinking longer than I should have. Adding sobriety or alcohol moderation into the mix might make it seem nearly impossible. 

But despite what Hollywood and societal norms tell us, you really don’t need alcohol to go on a fun date—or have great sex!

Liquid courage is a facade, anyway. The alcohol just activates something that you’ve had inside you all along. Let’s replace liquid courage with intrinsic courage.

Here are a few ways to make booze-free dating more accessible.

Go On an Experiential Date

The typical “let’s grab coffee” works with the same casualness as “let’s grab drinks!” But you still spend the date just sitting there…drinking coffee…talking about yourselves while anxiety shows its ugly teeth through foot-tapping or voraciously picking at a nagging hangnail. 

Dates that involve moving around instead of sitting in a coffee shop can be a proactive way to shed those anxious jitters. Observing something external—like art in a museum or flowers in a botanical garden—creates a fun, light way to connect on a date. 

You can also go to a used bookstore or thrift shop and buy each other something. What a cute way to share a little bit of yourself with someone you like—no booze required! 

Plus, that’s an easy segue into landing a second date: You can report back on the books you bought each other or rock your new, gifted vintage look.

Disclose Your Booze-Free Status

Telling a date that you’re sober—or making an effort to drink less—only needs to happen if and when you feel comfortable. 

When I was single, I put “sober” on my dating profile. I found that being upfront about the fact that I don’t drink was the most efficient approach. Some folks may not want to date a sober person, which is totally understandable (and their loss!).

Before you meet up, you can let your date know that you don’t drink, either through private messaging or on a phone call. These approaches are helpful for filtering out people who don’t want to date a nondrinker. 

You don’t have to disclose your booze-free status beforehand, though. You may prefer to wait until you meet in person, or after you’ve had a few dates. 

Remember: You are not obligated to share this personal information with anyone. And if you do decide to open up, you don’t need to get into any details as to why you’re not drinking right now. 

A simple “I don’t drink” is highly effective. Don’t make it a big issue and your date probably won’t either.

Be Real. Be Honest.

Dating without alcohol may feel incredibly overwhelming. When we’re used to doing something one way, it may be difficult to imagine implementing a new approach. After 13 years of dating with booze, it took me time to get used to sober dates. 

Booze-free dating can be a positive experience when you let yourself be The Real You. You no longer have to hide behind the guise of liquid courage, or feel like you have to “perform” the perfect version of yourself. 

When I first started sober dating, I discovered I had a much lower tolerance for BS. I put up with so much mistreatment, disrespect, and verbal abuse because alcohol numbed me out. Sobriety has shown me what I deserve, so I never settle for less than that.

Don’t Get Intimate Until You’re Ready

It’s no secret that dating can lead to sex—so let’s talk about it! 

Alcohol is a depressant. For many people, alcohol has a numbing effect. It doesn’t just numb our insecurities; it numbs our bodies, too. Which means that, while you may feel relaxed and have lowered inhibitions, alcohol can also hinder your genital response. 

Heavy alcohol use can lead to erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, and the loss of pleasure (1, 2). Drunk sex doesn’t sound so sexy anymore, does it?

Sober sex will likely feel different because you can actually feel every part of it. Plus, you know all the awkward feelings that can arise when you’re naked in front of someone new? Those feelings can be extra intense if you’re used to being buzzed when you have sex. 

This is why it’s essential to wait until you’re emotionally and physically ready to have sober sex for the first time. 

The Future of Dating is Sober

As more people become interested in life with no booze or less booze, new resources for sober living keep popping up. 

There are several apps (CASL, LOOSID, and Sober Dating, to name a few) made specifically for sober or mindful dating. Top dating sites like Bumble now allow you to select a “sober” filter. 

Not all people are going to be comfortable dating a sober or sober curious person. While this can be upsetting or disheartening, it’s also very useful: Anyone who has an issue with your sobriety is not the person for you.

You can also flip the narrative: Being the best version of yourself is the ultimate #NoFilter.

Fun fact: Hinge just released a study with 3,000 participants that looked into dating trends (3). It found that 75% of Gen Z singles (people born between 1997 and 2012) are looking for alcohol-free dates! The future is sober, y’all. 

Regardless of how you approach sober dating, make sure you take it one date at a time. And never forget the most important relationship of all: your relationship with yourself. 

About The Author

Tawny is a New York City-based writer, blogger, public speaker, podcaster, and Webby-Award Winner who’s passionate about smashing stigmas associated with both sexuality and sobriety. Her words have been published in Playboy, Men’s Health, Huffington Post, The Temper, and more. To view more of Tawny's published writing, visit

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