Sober Dating Is All The Rage…According To Tinder

Alcohol has a solid reputation as liquid courage, for better or for worse. Some people rely on its addictive quality to give them a boost of self-confidence they wouldn’t otherwise be able to muster up. It makes us feel more at ease, more comfortable in conversation, and more willing to come out of our shells and let loose.

By Andrea Mew4 min read
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That said, the you that exists on alcohol is not necessarily the authentic you. A few drinks in and your personality might shift, you might agree to things you normally wouldn’t, or you might say things you’d later come to regret.

If the version of yourself that’s under the influence isn’t your authentic self, then why do so many people rely on alcohol to create a public-facing illusion of who they are when they go on dates? In a world full of first and second dates that begin at a bar or winery and perhaps end in a bedroom, the new trend in dating is “sober dating,” according to Tinder’s “Year in Swipe” review.

Singles Are Now Drinking a Lot Less on Dates

Though the entire dating scene can’t be accounted for in Tinder’s “Year in Swipe” research, Tinder’s findings are a great benchmark for what the general population prefers when looking for love. Two findings in particular indicated that sober dating is all the rage.

Firstly, Tinder asserted that the traditional dinner date format we’ve grown so used to could actually die out. Its replacement? Creative date activities that include much more than just dinner and drinks. In their findings, Tinder bio mentions of “mini golf” were at 56%, “picnics” were at 43%, and “drive-ins” were at 34%. Other trending global interests were “Trying New Things,” “Camping,” “Street Food,” and “BBQs.” In their analysis, Tinder shared that these less traditional, more sober ways of getting to know your date could be more authentic than just drinking and eating together.

Creative date activities are replacing the traditional dinner and drinks.

Secondly, Tinder stated that “more singles are raising a glass to sober dates” in general. Either purposefully or inadvertently, people on the dating scene are challenging traditional norms by opting for alcohol-free dates or simply drinking less in general. When Tinder surveyed young singles, over one-quarter of them said they drank less during their dates this year. Tinder analyzed their self-reported drinking habits on their profiles, and nearly three-quarters said they only drink occasionally or don’t drink at all. The most important indicator of this sober-curious trend, of course, is that Tinder found that usage of the clinking beer glasses decreased 40% and wine glass emoji usage decreased 25%.

Why Are Younger Generations Putting the Bottle Down?

The notion that a greater percentage of the population is sober-curious isn’t totally unfounded. After pandemic lockdowns and the bizarrely non-committal re-opening procedures which followed, Americans’ relationship with alcohol appears to have changed. At first, drinking was on an upward trajectory, and restaurants even sought out creative ways to serve customers alcohol to-go or al fresco. At-home mixology and bartending gained popularity as well, but since then it appears that people’s infatuation for intoxication has leveled out, if not totally flatlined.

Relying on alcohol to loosen yourself up for a date follows a similar pattern to drinking habits in economic downturns. If you’ve paid any attention to gas and grocery prices over the past two years, you’ve probably noticed that costs are rising. As a result, a lot of Americans are changing their consumer habits, like the over 80% who reported they’re eating out at restaurants less often and three-quarters who reported they’ve reduced how often they go out to bars. In this same survey done by Morning Consult, over half of all respondents said that they’ve cut back on buying alcohol during rising inflation.

In October 2021, 68% of the survey respondents said they consume alcohol, but this year that number dropped to 58%. One-third of respondents who drink less today reported they’re doing so to save money. Young Americans are watching their cost-of-living increase at rates their parents’ generation might not have had to deal with, but if they’re still looking for love and want to go out on dates, it’s understandable that alcohol might get the ax.

The rising sober-curious movement, which has set new trends in dating, could also be thanks to younger generations placing a higher importance on their personal health and wellness. Let’s be honest, millennials and Gen Z are quick to hop on health fads. Our peers post pretty Instagram Reels of the bountiful, nourishing spreads they eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and boast the benefits of each micronutrient they’re ingesting. Trying out a new workout routine? You might have made a Reel or TikTok showing off each rep and set you finished while wearing a carefully curated matching gym outfit. 

One-third of survey respondents who are drinking less this year compared to last year are doing so to save money.

Without a doubt, the cultural trend toward healthier lifestyles is desperately needed as Americans are more obese than ever before and dying at much higher rates from diseases that could be mitigated with proper diet and nutrition. All that in mind, I’d say we’re justified in our pursuit of a more vibrant physical condition. When imbibing in moderation, alcohol can actually be part of a healthy lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet, which has largely been classified as one of the best regimens to improve your state of health, doesn’t shy away from some wine here or there. Researchers have also found that polyphenols in beer can help boost your gut microbiome, so a very moderate consumption of alcohol could actually help you keep a healthy gut flora.

During college, young Americans have been pressured and, as a result, conditioned to accept binge-drinking culture. As we become more health conscious, we’re learning how to have a more balanced, responsible relationship with alcohol, which in turn affects how we date. Perhaps bellying up to the bar for vodka shots is really out, and a small flight of wine or microbrewery beer to split is in!

Adam Ellwanger for the American Conservative recently wrote about how conservatism is the new counterculture, a surprisingly controversial statement that has been discussed ad nauseum among those of us who lean right-of-center for years now. From pushing back against the sexual revolution and celebrating traditional values in dating and marriage, conservatives are now the ones raging against the machine. A more old-fashioned approach to dating by saying no to drunken escapades reflects this cultural shift to a tee. There are certainly people who still just want to go out drinking and dancing during clubbing sprees that end in one-night stands, but there also appears to be a segment of this generation that feels jaded by those surface-level relationships.

Closing Thoughts

So what do you think, are you going to raise a glass to sober dates? While my husband and I occasionally enjoy trips to local breweries, sake with our sashimi, or craft cocktails while out on date nights and at special events, we cultivated our relationship through authentic, quality time spent together that didn’t require liquid courage. There are countless ways that you can connect with someone beyond your mutual love for that warm, fuzzy feeling that accompanies beer, wine, and spirits. Maybe Tinder’s onto something with its prediction that sober (or even just semi-sober) dating is coming into fashion, and if it means that people take a more responsible, thoughtful approach to relationships, then I’m all for it.

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