Should I Drink on a First Date?

Nothing like a little social lubricant to make the awkwardness of a first date go away, right? Well, maybe. A question we hear a lot from singles is whether or not it’s smart to drink alcohol on a first date.

On one hand, it can shave away the awkward, but on the other hand, it could cloud our judgment and possibly create some safety issues.

So, what’s the right answer? In this blog, we’re going to help you answer that question. We’ll look at some of the pros to drinking on the first date, and then look at some of the reasons that you might want to stick to water or soda.

And after that, we’ll answer the question once and for all!

Woman drinking an old fashioned

Pros of Drinking Alcohol on a First Date

Let’s start our discussion by looking at the benefits of drinking alcohol on a first date. Again, this is not necessarily us saying that is the correct answer, but it’s where we want to start our discussion today. Make sure you read our section on the cons of drinking alcohol on a first date, and then our final answer.

It Can Help Ease the Tension

They don’t call alcohol the great social lubricant for nothing. It’s something people have used for centuries to relax and take the edge off of stress. As first dates and meeting someone totally new (or at least in a new context) can be stressful, it’s no wonder this question comes up so often.

You May Enjoy Drinking

If drinking is a hobby of yours, cool! Maybe you’re someone who likes wine tasting or trying new craft beers or just the camaraderie that comes with having a few cocktails? As first dates are often about doing things you enjoy with someone new, the connection with drinking on a first date makes a lot of sense. This is especially true if the person you are going out with shares the same interests.

It Could Be Part of the Date

Piggybacking on the prior pro of drinking on a first date is that it might be part of the date. You can go to a restaurant and choose to drink or not to drink without any awkwardness. However, if you to a wine tasting and don’t drink, that might be a little awkward. Again, this shouldn’t be a reason for you to feel any pressure to drink, but it’s something to be aware of.

Cons of Drinking Alcohol on a First Date

As we mentioned, there are some potential pitfalls and drawbacks to be aware of when it comes to drinking alcohol on the first date. Let’s take a look at a few of the biggest now to help round out our discussion.

It Could Create Safety Issues

When you are inebriated, your senses are dulled, and your ability to make rational decisions becomes diminished. This isn’t our opinion, it’s the way it is. What this means for first daters is that adding alcohol to the mix could create some additional safety issues. Yes, a lot of these can be mitigated with a plan, but you should still be aware of them.

Some of the things to consider are:

  • You’re meeting someone new who you may not be able to fully trust yet. Having your full wits about you may be smart.
  • If you’re planning on driving to the date, you have to worry about the safety concerns of drinking and driving.
  • There are the normal threats and safety concerns that come anytime you’re out in public and intoxicated. These don’t go away just because you’re on a first date.

It May Cloud Your Judgment

Something that can lead to more safety issues, as well as personal life complications, is that alcohol can cloud your judgment. Compound this with the nervousness of a first date, and it may lead you to do things that you otherwise wouldn’t want to. This could be something as simple as saying or sharing something you don’t want to, or it could be the tale as old as time—sleeping with someone when you really wouldn’t without the alcohol.  

It May Diminish Your Ability to Gauge Compatibility

Outside of all the doom and gloom dangers of drinking on a first date, you also have things that may affect the potential success of the relationship. When people drink, they often say “they’re not themselves.”

If the entire goal of a first date is to find compatibility, shouldn’t you do that with the person they’re going to be most of the time in a relationship? Unless you plan on both being intoxicated 24/7, you’d be getting to know a version of them you won’t see that often.

As you’ll see when we definitively answer the question of should you drink on a first date, we’ll talk about the quantity of alcohol being an important factor in all of this. One or two drinks are probably not going to alter someone’s personality significantly, but when you start going above that—it becomes a reality.

Some Important Caveats to Consider

Before we give our final answer, there are a few important caveats we want to mention. Please make sure you read through these if they apply to you. If not, feel free to skip to the next section and our final answer.

If You Have a Problem With Alcohol

If you and alcohol don’t get along very well, it’s probably not a good idea to bring that into a first date. If you have issues with controlling yourself or you have a very low tolerance, why not pass on the risk of ruining things?

If You Are Driving

At the risk of sounding like a billboard ad, buzzed driving is drunk driving. If you are planning to drive to and from the date, consider either not drinking or having a different plan to get home. Uber’s and Lyft’s and public transportation (in some areas) are great ways to mitigate this risk. However, if you can’t get an alternate form of transportation, consider not drinking or limiting yourself to one.

If You Have Work the Next Day

One of the worst ways you can start off a relationship is by messing up the rest of your personal life. If you go out on a weeknight or you have something important the next day on the weekend, don’t slam the drinks. There’s nothing like the romantic feelings of a nasty hangover at work to remember a great first date by, right? Wrong.

The Bottom Line – Should You Drink Alcohol on a First Date?

The answer to this question is a little complex, but here are our final thoughts.

  • If you have an issue controlling your alcohol or an underlying issue with drinking, don’t drink on a first date.
  • If you have no issues with drinking, whether or not you should do it on a first date is 100% up to you. There are no hard and fast rules that say you “should”, but there are also no hard and fast rules that say you “shouldn’t”.

If you decide that drinking on the first date does sound like something you want to do, great! However, the bigger question is how much you should drink on the first date. For us, 1-2 drinks are probably plenty (depending on your size and alcohol tolerance). If you’re a very small person who gets heavily affected by alcohol, stick to one drink or none. If you’re someone who handles it well, two is probably fine.

Remember, though, if you are planning on driving to and from the date, take that into consideration and have a plan to get home safely.

And for those of you considering drinking more than that on a first date, we wouldn’t advise it. While it might loosen you up a lot and get rid of all the awkwardness, the cons we mentioned start to get bigger and more impactful.

Bottom line, the word “should” should never be included in the discussion. You are never obligated to drink on a first date, no matter what. That being said, if you want to drink on a first date, do it—as long as you are smart about it and understand the potential pros and cons of the decision.