Dating Without Drinking: Tips for Navigating Valentine’s Day Sober

Published on February 3, 2020
Mountainside Canaan Aerial Shot

Canaan, CT – With Valentine’s Day coming up, many are looking for ideas about how they should spend the special day with their partners. Restaurants and movie theaters can be expensive and predictable. Bars and night clubs can be uncomfortable for those who are sober curious, in recovery from addiction, or simply prefer not to drink.

According to Nielsen data, more than half of Americans 21 and older refrain from drinking at some point over the course of a year. Additionally, more than two-thirds of millennials (ages 24 to 39) report they’re trying to cut back on how much they drink. Given the number of people abstaining, suggesting an alternative to an alcohol-fueled night may not only be creative but also welcome and appreciated.

Mountainside treatment center’s Alex Lahr, Recovery Coach, has suggestions for how couples can mark the most romantic day of the year, sans alcohol. Lahr’s ideas for people looking for special date night activities include:

  1. Work up a sweat. Besides their obvious health benefits, exercise classes are a great way to spend time with a partner. “Try an exercise class neither of you have done before,” Lahr says. “You can bond over trying to get the hang of it.” Trendy classes to try include kickboxing, cycling, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
  2. Take a tour. Explore a nearby city and learn something new about it. and Eventbrite are two places where people can search for events with a local flavor that they might be interested in checking out. Afterwards, dine at an eatery that specializes in regional cuisine.
  3. Marvel at art. From world-class museums with well-known works of art to local galleries to offbeat spaces dedicated to everything from candy to comic books, there is something for everyone. As an added bonus, cultural outings can provide insight into the other person’s interests, sparking conversations on a variety of topics.
  4. Breathe in some fresh air. Spending time outside can be relaxing or invigorating, depending on the mood a person wants to set. A walk through the forest with a picnic lunch; a day of skiing followed by a marshmallow roast over a fireplace; or even a stroll through a street fair can create fun memories on a date.
  5. Dine by candlelight at home. Planning, preparing, and eating a meal together is a great way for two people to get to know each other while showing off their cooking skills. Don’t know the difference between sautéing and frying? Take a cooking class together; then go home and recreate what was taught.

Some may think alcohol is a must in social situations, but it’s entirely possible to connect with a date on a deeper level without drinking. Whether a person is leading a sober lifestyle or simply looking for a new way to connect with a partner, there are many options besides restaurants and bars to celebrate Valentine’s Day and beyond.

“Sober dating isn’t just for people recovering from addiction. It’s a way to get to know a partner and have fun together while being health conscious,” says Lahr, who draws from her own experiences overcoming addiction to help her clients rediscover themselves in recovery. “The most meaningful activities provide you with a shared opportunity that you can connect over.”