Alcohol – First Date No-No or Appropriate Social Mixer?

By Grant Langston, Senior Director Content

Alcohol - First Date No-No or Appropriate Social Mixer?

Alcohol and dating can be a sensitive topic. Some people come to the issue with set-in-stone views. Some take a more ad-hoc attitude, letting the circumstances dictate their drinking decisions. Influencing factors include religion, ethnic traditions and family attitudes towards drinking. We’re going to look at the range of positions on the matter, how it can influence the course of a date, and some smart strategies for mixing alcohol and dating.

If You Don’t Drink – Ever
If you don’t drink alcohol, you don’t drink alcohol on dates.   That’s where it begins and ends. Depending on your values, you may not even want to be on a date with a person who consumes alcohol, even in moderation. If you date drinkers, you’re probably going to be more aware of the effects of drinking than your date. It may be hard not to notice the subtle effects that a couple of drinks can have. As a person who doesn’t drink but is out dating and being social, you may have gotten quite used to being around people who imbibe. Still, if you’re sober and your date is even a little tipsy, it can be hard to withhold judgments.

What’s an Italian Dinner without a Bottle of Wine?
Of course for many, alcohol is just another food – a part of dining that seems no more risky than a dinner roll. If that is you, you’ll feel very comfortable with a few glasses of wine. It may even ease your nerves, or make you feel a little more confident. In addition, focusing on wine with dinner is a great way to pay attention — moderate your intake and check your blood alcohol level.

It’s important to think about your partner through all this. If you start to notice pronounced effects of alcohol in her/him, it could certainly be that they’re irresponsible and have poor judgment. Of course, it could also be that they’re just trying to drink the wine that the waiter keeps pouring into his/her glass. They may be trying to keep up with you. If you’re a man, the chances are you outweigh your date by 70, 80 pounds or more. This fact alone gives you a better ability to drink without getting tipsy.  

Also remember that many people try and manage their alcohol intake by counting “glasses.”  They may think, “I’m good to have two glasses of wine tonight and no more,” not realizing that some modern wine glasses hold as much as 23 ounces of wine. The typical glass of wine that counts as one drink is 5 ounces. With the refilling that many restaurants do, it can be hard to keep count.

Getting Drunk – A Real Bad Date Idea
There’s a simple formula to remember when it comes to dating and alcohol.

(A+SA)2=B10

Alcohol + Sexual Attraction x 2 People = An Exponentially Bad Decision

The one thing you’re after in the early stages of dating is a clear picture of who your potential partner is and how you two fit together. If there was ever a time in your life to be of sober mind, it is during this period. It is impossible to estimate what percentage of terrible early relationship decisions have been made under the influence of drink, but the number is probably quite hefty.

Four Rules to Remember:

1.    If you’re not already, get familiar with your alcohol consumption guidelines.
If you weigh 105 pounds, the amount of alcohol you can safely drink is far different from someone who is 250 pounds. Here is a chart to help you understand how many drinks it takes for you to get intoxicated. This can be vital information when your date says, “Want to get another bottle of wine?”

2.    Consider the entire evening.
Maybe you meet after work for a cocktail. A martini can be refreshing. Then you go to a restaurant and have a bottle of wine with dinner. Then he says, “How about we stroll down to this pub I know and keep talking?” Sounds fine, so you stroll down and because it is a little bar and the wine list looks terrible you say, “I’ll have a Sam Adams.” After a bit that turns into two. Now, you’ve had five drinks of three different types of alcoholic beverages and at the very least your head is probably going to hurt the next day. Consider the entire evening and how things add up.  

3.    If you’ve experienced addiction in your past…
Don’t feel like a first date is the place to explain yourself. As a general rule, we suggest you save important revelations about health and history for subsequent dates. After all, if you end up not clicking with this person, why would you want to share personal details? It’s easy enough to say, “I’m not drinking tonight,” and leave it there. If your date has anything to say about that, you will have learned some very valuable information about him/her.

4.    How are you getting the car home?
We’ve left out of this entire discussion the unpleasant facts about drunk driving. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the five or six North American cities that have a robust public transit system, you can ignore an entire class of driving problems. The rest of us have to consider what condition we’re in when we get behind the wheel. What does it say to your date when you have four drinks and jump in the car to drive him/her home? Do you seem like a person who has great judgment?

If you live in, say, Dallas and pick up your date in a taxi, what must he/she be thinking as he/she walks out to the car? Saying “I thought we might be drinking tonight and I wanted to play it safe,” has its own weird repercussions. What you’re really saying is, “I’m going to be drinking tonight and I might get drunk.” This is a pretty odd conversation to have in the first five minutes of a first date.

The easy solution to all this is to moderate your drinking. Learn your limits and stay within them.

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