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Top 10 Things to Consider When Drinking on the First Date

Thomas Edwards
Guide to drinking on a date
We’re all pretty familiar with general etiquette when it comes to going out on dates, but how about when it comes to the topic of drinking on dates? For some, this can be a bit of a gray area.

So you’ve met someone on a dating app and now you’re thinking whether you should drink on your first date? Well, if so, you should check this list out before you do.

1. It’s Not a Requirement 

First, let’s get this out of the way –– drinking is NOT a necessity in order to have a great date. In fact, I don’t drink anymore! While this is a personal choice and yours to make, it doesn’t have to affect how you approach the date. If you’re curious about your date’s drinking preference, you can weave it into your conversation while you’re making plans, for example, “I know this great restaurant/bar that has great food and even better drinks! What’s your go-to drink?”

When I was drinking, I never considered someone abstaining from alcohol to be a deal breaker. For me, drinking went hand-in-hand with socializing but ultimately, the socializing was more important. Conversely, I have friends who would consider this a deal breaker. Whatever choice you or your date has made regarding drinking, be sure it’s something you support and align with.

2. How Much Is Too Much?

Now, you’re out on your date and you’re trying to decide what’s the right amount. Well, that requires a bit of introspection. 

No one knows you like you know you. This definitely applies when it comes to your alcohol tolerance. Only you know whether that shot of tequila will loosen you up, or have you streaking down the street before the night is over. Consider how certain drinks might affect you or even alcohol in general:

  • Does wine make you sleepy? 
  • Will you be projecting low energy to your date, leading them to think you may not be interested?
  • Will that shot of vodka have you professing your feelings for your date who you only just met?
  • How much is too much?

3. Consider Lower Alcohol Content Drinks

For my clients who drink, I typically recommend they order a drink that is either lower in alcohol content, like a beer, or something that requires sipping and can’t be as easily chugged, like an Old Fashioned.

Pacing in dating is important — pacing conversations, escalating physical touch and flirtation, and yes, pacing your drinking is just as important! You want to be highly tuned in to pick up on all the right signals, something that could pose more difficulty if you’re having strong drinks at a rapid pace.

And if we’re being responsible, a maximum of 2 drinks is ideal.

4. Pre-gaming Can Be Dangerous

Do you like to pregame before your dates? Well, that can be dangerous territory. 

We all get those pre-date nerves. I’m talking about that foot tapping, pacing in the living room, and “I can’t decide what to wear after trying on 3 different outfits” feeling. Rest assured, your date is feeling it too. 

Pre-date jitters are such a universal experience that there is research out there pointing to the fact that a little less than half of “first daters” have at least one drink before they meet up with their date. 

Sometimes we think that knocking back a quick shot will ease all the angst. But sometimes, we don’t consider the fact that it’s going to take time for the shot to kick in, so we take another because we’re still feeling the nerves. Next thing you know, you’re showing up to your date feeling a bit tipsy or worse, and the ground is moving underneath you (trust me, I’ve been there).

5. The First Few Minutes Are Everything

With my clients, I talk about all the things that happen in the first few minutes of your date. These are things you want to be primed and ready to pick up on that can strongly dictate the course of your first date. If you’re tipsy, you may be less-than prepared to pick up on these cues. 

So what went from trying to shake off the pre-date jitters could now be the thing that gets in the way of you building chemistry and attraction with your date altogether.

Also, considering the fact you will likely have MORE to drink during the date, it could potentially compound the problem. So I would advise you to avoid pregaming before your date. Use that nervous/excited energy to your advantage — you’ll likely be more talkative and hyper-tuned to what signals your date is giving you. Plus, trust me, they are feeling the nerves too. 

In fact, because both of you are feeling the nerves, calling it out during the date will make both of you feel better –– you may even share an ice-breaking laugh.

6. Remember the 2-Drink Rule

Research shows the average amount of drinks consumed on a date is around 2 per person. Remember that 2-drink max I mentioned earlier? This is due in part because of timing (the average first date lasts about 2 hours). If things are going well, your date should be full of conversation. So much so that the drinking should be taking a backseat. Pay attention to the pace your date is drinking at since it could be a positive signal if they’re taking their time. Even try matching their pace of drinking as long as it’s a responsible pace. 

And if they’re drinking fast? It’s likely because they’re nervous, so don’t worry about matching their pace and focus more on creating a comfortable space where they can relax.

7. Go with the Flow

If all goes well on your date and the drinks keep flowing, go with it (to your level of comfort), but tread lightly. Do your best to keep your wits about you when you’re first dating someone — don’t let the jovial shot-taking mess that up. First dates, and dating in general, can be fickle, so if things are going well, ensure they stay that way! There’s something attractive about someone who knows how to control themselves while still having a good time.

8. Do What’s Right for You

If you feel things may be escalating too quickly (in a negative way), there’s nothing wrong with ending the date and saving the fun for the next time you two get together, which will happen since you two are enjoying each other enough to want to keep things going!

Remember, drinking isn’t going to turn you into an entirely different person if you have trouble connecting on a first date, but it can have an adverse effect if not done responsibly. This is one of the many tools to ensure you meet, attract, and get into a long-term relationship with a quality partner!

9. You Won’t Always Be Drinking Together

Here’s something I see happen to my clients often: their first, second, and even third dates all are centered around drinking, or having the option of drinking. Then, they’re suddenly faced with a daytime hiking date, and they freak out. Now all of a sudden, they don’t have the crutch of alcohol to loosen them up, make them more witty, funny, etc.

You shouldn’t need alcohol to make you into a different person you wouldn’t normally be otherwise. There will come a time when you’re going to have to show up as 100% yourself. So make sure, that person isn’t a huge deviation from how you’ve presented yourself before. How do you ensure that? Don’t drink as much on the early dates.

10. You’re More Likely to Make Better Decisions

We all know the relationship alcohol can have on our judgment and inhibitions. While not all alcohol-infused choices are bad ones, there may be a chance that you end up making a decision you would have typically opted out of.

Remember my point about pacing? Alcohol can accelerate things, and while it may seem like the right decision in the moment, it could have the potential to affect your relationship negatively. The more clear your head is, the easier it will be to make decisions with the future in mind.

Final Thoughts

Whether or not you choose to drink on dates, your behavior will always be the determining factor in getting them to see you again. Showcasing responsibility with drinking will go a long way toward securing that second date.

Thomas Edwards
Thomas Edwards writes for Top10.com and founded The Professional Wingman to help singles find long-term relationships by developing their social skills through experiential coaching. With his first-ever publicly available course, Dynamic Dating, Thomas teaches you how to create a lifestyle conducive to meeting, attracting, and getting into a relationship with women both online and offline, while staying true to who you are.