Advice and Insights for Modern Daters

A Sobering Situation

Does not drinking = a doomed love life? Molly answers a Hinge member’s question about when and how she should disclose this information to potential dates without turning them off. 

Q. I don’t drink, and everyone always suggests “meeting up for drinks.” What should I do in this situation? I don’t have a problem going into bars, but it seems to make a lot of people uncomfortable when I sit at a bar and have a seltzer. If I suggest doing coffee instead, sometimes they’ll be like, “Why?” I’ll explain I don’t drink, and this weirds people out. Is there a right time or way to disclose this information?

Dana, 24, NY, NY

A. Thanks for your question, Dana. Let me start out with some information I hope will make you feel a little less alone: you aren’t the first person to write into IRL about not drinking, and you are definitely not the only person on Hinge who doesn’t drink.

I’ll even go a step further: I also live in NYC, and I have several friends who don’t drink, each of them for different reasons. Of the single people, some prefer to date other non-drinkers, and others don’t care if the person drinks. What I’m trying to say is this: not drinking does not make you weird or less desirable. You just need to figure out a way to present this information so that you don’t waste your time on people who would prefer to date another drinker.

Since you’re a Hinge member, you are probably aware of the fact that you can set your profile to indicate whether or not you drink. Obviously, this is a chance for you to say upfront, “I’m more of a Diet Coke girl.” If you do decide to say “no” to booze on your profile, know that doing so will narrow down your pool of compatible people. In a June 2017 study, we found that drinkers get almost twice the action as non-drinkers, when measured both by incoming likes and by number of connections.

This may sound like a bleak number for someone in your position, but don’t fret, because I’ve got two pieces of good news, as well: first, of the connections that do get made, non-drinkers exchange phone numbers with each other 29 percent more than their buzzed counterparts. In addition, non-drinkers who display that fact on their profile get 33 percent more likes from other non-drinkers.

With these numbers in mind, I’m going to suggest a course of action: definitely display on your profile that you don’t drink, but don’t set your preferences to exclude drinkers. Since you don’t mind going out with people who drink, there is no need to narrow down your pool. Still, listing your sober status will allow you to take advantage of the sober people who want to date other sober people. Basically, you’ll be left with a group of people who may or may not drink, but who are cool with you having a seltzer either way.

Non-drinkers exchange phone numbers with each other 29 percent more than their buzzed counterparts

Of course, things aren’t always so free of confusion. If, for whatever reason, someone suggests meeting up for drinks, have a script prepared before the date so there are no surprises or letdowns. I get that people can be “weird” about this. There’s a reason people use “drinking alone” as an insult…many people do not want to sit at a bar with a martini while their date sips a Sprite.

My friend, who doesn’t drink, uses the following line: “Sure, I’d love to meet up! Just so you know, I don’t drink. I’m totally cool with you drinking, just wanted to let you know :)”

This gives the person you’re talking to time to digest the information and come up with a plan that makes both of you comfortable. That might mean going forward with the original suggestion of meeting up at a bar, or it might alter things — maybe they’ll suggest meeting for coffee or a smoothie instead. They might also decide they don’t want to date a non-drinker at all.

In the end, any of these scenarios will be a win for you: you’re opening yourself up to your largest compatible pool, and no one will end up weirded out.

*June 2017 Hinge Study

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