Dry January and Its Effects on Your Dating Life
A Guide to Sex and Dating During Dry January
Even if you’re not partaking in Dry January, you probably know someone who is. Giving up alcohol for an entire month following the festive excess of December has become an increasingly common New Year health kick. In fact, one in five Americans said they were attempting the boozeless challenge in 2019 (but it’s untold who actually made it the full 31 days).
RELATED: Experts Reveal How Dry January Can Hack Your Wellbeing
It’s not tricky to figure out exactly why Dry January has become so popular. Those abstaining from alcohol are more likely to save money, sleep better and enjoy an array of health and wellness benefits like improved skin and reduced blood pressure. If you’re a regular drinker, you’ll also give your liver a well-deserved break.
All that said, while Dry January may be admirable, it’s also highly challenging — especially if you’re aiming to stay active on the dating scene. “Dating during January can be overwhelming for people undertaking the Dry January challenge,” House of Ardent’s sex and relationships expert Lianne Young. “I mean, what do you drink when you're out on a date if it's not something to help relax your nerves?”
However, Young points out that while alcoholic drinks “might help with nerves,” they should never be allowed to become “a crutch or personality replacement.”
“It’s good to get to know someone sober because that way you get to know the real them, and that’s really what is important," she adds.
With this in mind, here’s a guide to dating during Dry January that’ll hopefully remove any pre-meetup anxiety knowing alcohol won’t be in play.
1. It’s Completely Fine to Feel a Little Nervous
"Being nervous before a date is normal," says Dru Jaeger, co-author of “How to Be a Mindful Drinker: Cut Down, Stop For a Bit, or Quit,” a guide to help moderate your drinking habits. “It’s tempting to try to cover up those nerves with a drink, but it’s a quick and dirty fix. It's better to acknowledge your nerves and then focus on the other person.”
Jaeger says this approach has two clear benefits: It'll distract you from feeling nervous, and “it will probably make your date feel really good that you're paying them so much attention.”
2. Be Upfront About the Fact You’re Doing Dry January
If you’re used to going on dates that revolve around alcohol, you might feel self-conscious about telling your date that you won’t be drinking. After all, there’s a lingering stigma around being teetotal that might make you worry you’ll come off as boring without a beer in your hand. Whatever you do, don’t let this play on your mind.
“It might feel like a big deal for you, but [your not drinking] is just another fact about you for them," notes Jaeger. “If they react badly, don't stress about it. You wouldn't want to date someone who doesn't support your choices anyway.”
3. Expand Your Idea of What a Date Should Be
A somewhat obvious alternative to meeting for drinks? Convening for coffee instead. "Coffee dates are great if you’re looking to build a long-term relationship because they're slower and more absorbing," says Young.
However, Young concedes that coffee dates have a tendency to become a bit bland over time, suggesting to use your creative side when thinking about ways to get to know one another.
"Remember that dates don't have to be hours long, and they don't have to be in the evening," states Jaeger, who recommends "a trip to a gallery or a walk in the park" as relaxing options, and rollerskating or rock climbing as more energetic ones. "But really, the options are as endless as your imagination."
Once you get beyond the idea that dating has to involve drinking, you might find it becomes a more stimulating and rewarding process. Even if there’s no romantic spark between you and your date, you’ll still have shared an enriching life experience.
4. If You End Up at a Bar Anyway, Mocktails Can Be Your Friend
Classic cocktails without the booze have come a long way since your parents would treat you to a Shirley Temple on family holidays. Ask your bartender to rustle up something surprising and booze-free, and they’ll almost certainly oblige.
5. Remember the Positive Effects That Come With Sober Dating
"The main benefit of sober dating is that you're going to remember your date," says Jaeger. “Whether it goes brilliantly, terribly or most likely somewhere in between, you can be confident that you stayed in control, presented your best self and were really able to pay attention to the person you dated.”
You’re also more likely to know for sure whether you want to see that person again, which is crucial to dating efficiently and successfully.
And you’ve heard of a little thing called whiskey d*ck, right? Even the great William Shakespeare rather cutely referred to alcohol’s negative effect on our sexual endeavors as “brewer's droop.” It’s worth remembering that another highlight of dating without alcohol during Dry January could be more adventurous and engaging sex (that you actually remember, too).
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