NOTHING TO BOOZE Sex and relationship expert Dr Caroline West says 'dry dating' is on the rise
Dr West shares her best advice with Denise Smith
Could 2022 be the year you ditch the Dutch courage and dive into the dating pool dry? If agreeing to a dinner date sans drink in hand sounds like a living nightmare, Dr Caroline West, Bumble's relationship and sex expert, is here to persuade you otherwise.
Sharing advice on how to have the confidence to date sober this year and beyond, the relationship guru reveals how you can form deeper and more genuine connections without the help of happy hour.
She says: "It is great to see that intentional and mindful dating is becoming more common in Ireland because we didn't really have that before the pandemic. We would just go to the pub and fall into relationships and a lot of things would start off with alcohol."
Encouraging singletons to put their drinking habits on ice and be reflective about their dating habits means there is more potential to skip the duds to find your stud.
"Ask yourself, what kind of partner do I want? And also ask yourself the values you want to see in a partner. It's also important to ask what you bring to a relationship. Do you have a history of not spotting red flags? Reflect on how you have dated before and how you can improve when it comes to a relationship in 2022. We work on our physical and mental health so why shouldn't we also work on our relationships?
"It's also encouraging to see that people, particularly younger people, are thinking more about their relationship with alcohol and how that impacts how they date."
And of course, bask in the knowledge that you won't be going it alone.
New research from dating app Bumble has found that almost one in three people in Ireland are now more likely to go on a dry date than they were pre-pandemic. This comes amid a shift in dating with over half of single people in Ireland being more mindful and intentional in how, and when, they date.
Bumble's research shows that an incredible 66pc of the Irish population believe that they are more likely to form more meaningful connections if they date without alcohol, while 59pc think that alcohol has previously caused them to form a connection which may have not been there without drinking.
If you're still not convinced, listen closely, as Dr West adds: "If you feel like you are in need of some courage, then it's usually a confidence thing. If you are nervous maybe try to video call them first. Zoom has become such a normal part of our lives, so why not start there?
"Updating your wardrobe so you're wearing clothes you feel confident in is also key and maybe going to a place that you know and are comfortable in. Also, it's OK to be nervous and anxious and the likelihood is that the other person is feeling the exact same way."
Now that sober dating could be the way of the future, the love guru adds: "I think we are getting used to new ways of meeting people and alcohol doesn't have to be part of it. Our social life used to revolve around the pub, but now we are getting a lot better at cafe culture and going for walks and coffee dates. It's only going to lead to better dating experiences for everyone.
"If you're planning a date and going to go dry, research and suss out the best places which don't involve alcohol. A fresh air walk might help break the ice with a stop-off at your favourite coffee shop, or if you've got hobbies in common look to do something which involves them."
Dr West also urges singletons to show their cards when looking for love in 2022: "Part of dating anxiety comes from worrying that someone may not want the same things as you, so be intentional and upfront about what you're looking for. That way, by the time you meet, you'll already know you're both looking for similar things."
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