When 31-year-old Vatsla Nagar, a successful Gurgaon-based architect gave up alcohol for love, she ended up gaining a fiancé and a co-partnered company Foresque. In her words, "Sobriety allowed us to be authentic and engage in deep, meaningful conversations about our life's purpose, ambitions, and what truly brings us happiness. It led us to discover a common love for crafting exquisite, nature-inspired furniture that has now taken shape as our brand Foresque." Recommending for modern-day couples, she opines, "Dry-dating is not only liberating and exciting, but it's also a rollercoaster ride of emotions, drawing you closer to your true self and your perfect match."
In the era of "wine and dine" culture if you are wondering about being a teetotaler for your next date, here’s a positive sign – the dry dating trend is the latest fad where two people go out for a date but choose to stay sober to focus more on the conversation and better assess compatibility with the other person. Even singer John Mayer, who was once infamous for his reckless lifestyle, is a big supporter of being sober on dates now; in a recent interview, he shared that he stopped drinking years ago and it made him re-evaluate how he views relationships. He revealed that being vulnerable with a potential significant other early on is very beneficial because that’s when each person can genuinely bond.
Young, wild, and alcohol-free:
According to global dating app Tinder’s Future of Dating Report 2023, 88% of surveyed singles say they’re interested in going on a sober date this year, with 52% either planning to drink less alcohol this year or opting not to drink alcohol at all. Not just for forming a genuine connection, but also helped in improving the quality of conversations and safety aspects. Calling it a "breath of fresh air", Shreyash Korde, a 24-year-old app user from New Delhi says, "I’m all about alcohol-free dates. Sober dating has opened up a whole new world for me, going beyond the usual bar scene. Whether it’s hiking, picnicking, or even checking out a hilarious stand-up comedy show, the possibilities for memorable dates are endless. No more hazy first impressions; just clear minds and open hearts."
Gen Z is ushering in a new era of dating that values meaningful connections and overall well-being. Sober dating, dry dating, sober curious dating – this is not just a passing trend for them but more of a lifestyle choice to be more authentic and challenge traditional dating norms, remarks Dr Chandni Tugnait, a life coach and relationship expert partner with Tinder India. She says, "The absence of alcohol should not be mistaken for boredom; rather, it signifies a broader societal shift in attitudes and prioritising self-care. Mindfulness and personal growth have taken center stage for young singles reflecting their desire for authentic, meaningful connections."
Regardless of societal norms, people who want to stay in a relationship and make it grow will make efforts irrespective of alcohol, thinks Jeevika Sharma, a tarot card reader and relationship expert. She mentions, "For me, alcohol is not the deciding factor in a relationship. In my opinion, people who can stand alcohol and still have control over their senses experience an equal amount of pleasure in their conversations with the other person. It could be a good idea for some to start sober dating who cannot handle alcohol and tend to lose control after a couple of drinks as this could be embarrassing for the partner. But, some people can handle alcohol well, stay in their senses and tune in well together; for them this could be a little boring."
Highlighting a common mindset on first dates, she adds, "Most people, nowadays, are not serious about relationships and go on a date just for fun or entertainment. They just need someone for a day to accompany them for a drink or clubbing. This makes a few people feel cheated or hurt as they were looking for something serious. Dry dating is a great way to start dating as it shows a clear picture of the intentions of the other person and then one can decide to go with it or not. A short first meeting over coffee or a meal is a good way to not waste your time and money on the person who is not at the same level as you are."
The idea of adding alcohol into the dating scenario to make it fun or fancy is passé, instead young couples insist on engaging in activities that can help overcome their inhibitions. Relationship counselor Shivani Sadhoo believes many young people are embracing dry dating to prioritize genuine connections over superficial experiences. The shift is driven by increasing awareness of mental and physical health benefits, the desire for meaningful conversations, and a focus on building long-lasting relationships. She says, "The society is becoming more accepting of diverse interests and activities, allowing individuals to feel less pressured to conform to traditional partying norms. Dry dating enables them to showcase their authentic selves without relying on alcohol-induced fun to make a connection. It sets a strong foundation for a healthy relationship based on mutual respect and understanding."
Being sober on a date can be beneficial for a relationship as it allows individuals to be present, clear-headed, and authentic. It fosters better communication, deeper connections, and a more genuine understanding of each other. Starting dating sober is not boring; it enables meaningful interactions, builds trust, and avoids relying on substances to have a good time.