Simple Rules for Dating: Drinks Not Dinner


I’ve written dating posts in the past that were mainly dating experiences. I wanted to do something different this time. Just simple rules that, if followed, will give your dating life a boost. I promise.

Yes, I realize that I’m 30 and single with 2 cats and probably shouldn’t be giving out dating advice. Too bad.

Beer via HeadCRasher on Flickr
via Flickr

Dinner Is A Huge Time Commitment

Going out to dinner is a really big commitment when meeting someone for the first time. It means you have to be with this person for at least an hour, minimum. That can be a long time if things aren’t going well.

On the other hand, it can be a short time if things are going well. As dinner winds down there’s an awkward moment where you both him and haw if you want to go somewhere else, where to go, is it getting too late… an easy solution is to have informal drinks first then the night can end at any time.

If things are going great after 2-3 drinks, then you can leave the bar and go out for food. This way you are feeling more comfortable and there won’t be the “getting to know you” interrogation at the table.

Having drinks first is a good buffer to feel out your date. Do you get along? Are they who they said they would be? Are you feeling comfortable? If yes, then move on to dinner afterward. If not, you have an easy out. Instead of having to sit there bored to tears for an hour, just finish your drink then gtfo.

Dinner Is Formal

Eating dinner also means sitting at a formal table with a lot of space between the both of you. Most dates start out with the “getting-to-know-you” interrogation, “where are you from? how long have you lived here? what school did you go to? what was your major? where do you work?” Sitting at a table with a mile of space between you can feel a lot more like a job interview than a date.

Sitting at a bar, next to each other, drinking beer feels casual and comfortable. You are close enough to touch if you want to but don’t have to. There are no rules for when you have to end the night. You just simply decide if you want another round.

I do recommend sitting near each other at a table (not across from each other) or next to each other at the actual bar. Not only is this more intimate but it can help diffuse any awkwardness someone is feeling.

If conversation lulls, you’re not staring at each other blankly (or trying not to stare at each other). You can turn your direction to the bar or to the other patrons, which may inspire conversation. Physical proximity is a really great ice breaker.

Note: I don’t mean sitting on someone’s lap the second you meet them. I don’t mean tons of touching immediately. I literally mean sitting near someone without a large object in between. It feels more casual and can help lighten everything. A date isn’t a big deal – you’re just meeting someone. There’s nothing on the line here. Do what makes you feel most comfortable (within reason, let’s stay classy people).

Dinner is Expensive

The other nice part of doing drinks instead of dinner is it’s a much cheaper option that helps to avoid gender-money issues. You both can take turns paying for each round. Or if one person pays, at least it’s only $20 instead of $50.

Let’s Stay Classy People

As I touched-upon above, let’s stay classy here. While a date shouldn’t be a huge event, it is important to make some sort of good first impression. Really this just means acting like a normal, functioning human being. It is possible to have a few drinks with someone and not get shit faced drunk. You can spend a few hours at the bar without blacking out. Anyone out of college should know their alcohol limit (if you don’t, learn it immediately). Use a drink or two to relax but don’t rely on the booze.

Drinks (Hot Or Cold)

Now, I have been referring to drinks in the alcohol sense but all of this works for coffee too. Coffee shops are casual places, most even have food if things are going well, and there isn’t a set time-frame. Tables are smaller so there is less of a space issue or some cafe’s offer couches and other comfortable seating.

If trying to feel out whether someone drinks alcohol or not, try asking out casually with, “Let’s meet for drinks (hot or cold).” That way there isn’t pressure to go to a bar if someone feels uncomfortable with that (this happens from time to time).

Events are for Second Dates

A date should not revolve around a fixed event like food or, even worse, a show/concert/workshop/class. Save those fun things for a second date. The first date is solely to get the base “getting to know you” things out of the way, making sure the person is a normal functioning human being, and seeing if you two click. This should be done in a casual environment.

Once those things have been set, then future dates can be more formal and exciting.


If you have thoughts on this and would like to discuss please use Twitter or send me an email.