Swiping Sober: One Woman’s Guide to Dating Outside the Box(ed) Wine

By Mahdia Lynn

“Actually, I don’t drink.” Too often, saying that can feel like an apology. There are a million different reasons a person might choose not to drink alcohol, and every single one of those are valid. Still, alcohol plays a very big role in dating culture, and those who don’t partake in a couple cocktails are presented with a unique set of challenges in the quest to meet someone special.

Dating while sober may feel exponentially more difficult, but it can lead to healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Nothing feels more empowering than living a life true to your values or needs — and being unapologetically yourself.  


We are living in a cultural moment where meeting someone through a dating app is more likely than trying your luck in the wild. Even though the smartphone is, for many, replacing the bar, the ritual of meeting for a drink is still deeply embedded in dating routines. Explaining why you don’t drink can be a complicated, vulnerable conversation for some. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Use the tool you have at hand: your Bumble profile. Including your lifestyle in your profile is an easy way to get ahead of the conversation and disclose on your terms. You can even have fun with it! A friend’s profile reads, “I don’t do bars — let’s get coffee!” As I myself have grown more comfortable with sober dating, I make sure potential dates know what I’m about right from the get-go: “No booze, no bros, no bigots.”

Want to avoid the conversation altogether? Try proposing the date spot yourself. How about a sporting event? Maybe a local street fair or amusement park? These are memorable, low-stakes first dates. The subjects of drugs and alcohol never need come up — that is, until you are ready to have talk about them.


There are people who have a glass of wine once or twice a week, and there are people for whom jagerbombs at 7pm on a Wednesday is a perfectly reasonable choice. It’s entirely possible to build a healthy relationship between one person who drinks and another who doesn’t, but if your new boo’s entire life revolves around alcohol it’s okay to admit that maybe this person isn’t the best match for you.

It’s a matter of scale. Let’s say you don’t like video games. Could you date a person who plays Pokemon Go for a few hours a week? That’s probably not much of a barrier. But could you make it work with a person who runs a gaming blog and plays “Dragon Age” eight hours a day?

This principle remains the same when it comes to pretty much anything, from politics to exercise to opinions about Norwegian death metal. A little bit of something can be a cute quirk, but an overload may be a deal-breaker. The best strategy is to communicate and be honest. Most importantly, be honest with yourself about your desires and limitations.


In the era of Bumble, meeting new people while sober is easier than it’s ever been. Sure, there are still challenges, but choosing not to drink can result in fun and meaningful dating experiences.

Choosing not to drink disrupts the culturally-ingrained rules of dating, but there’s nothing more enigmatic than being true to yourself. Redefining the rules to suit your lifestyle is often the catalyst to creative first dates and engaging relationships.

It might take a little extra work, but when you date outside the box, you can end up having adventures and experiences you’d never imagine otherwise.