Simple Rules for Dating: Drinks Not Dinner

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.


11 Replies to “Simple Rules for Dating: Drinks Not Dinner”

  1. If I was dating I would go more for the morning hot coffee maybe by the beach of something. I agree that first dates are not only a huge commitment but could be a huge waste of time and money. Having a couple of drinks allows you to know if there is a possibility of wanted to spend more time together.

    1. Money is a well-known factor but time is huge too! To spend an entire evening with a stranger is a lot to ask. I can hang out with friends and guarantee I’ll have a good time. Or I can go out on a date that may or may not be a good time. It’s tiring and a bit emotionally exhausting as well.

  2. You know what else I don’t like about the dinner date is that both of you are asking questions a lot, and it makes it awkward to you know, actually eat! Or I feel self-conscious about it and wonder if I’m spitting or have food in my teeth! lol! At least with drinks you can just take small sips and answer the question or ask one. I also wonder if I’m being secretly judged about WHAT I eat. “Damn that girl eats a lot of bread!” Which is true. :)

    1. You’re totally right! I had dinner with a first date that was going well, we already had some wine then decided to get a snack. I was so busy talking that he commented a few times on how slow I was eating. I think he was teasing but it made me feel rather awkward.

  3. This is very informative. I always thought that if a guy wanted to take me out 2 drinks on a first date he was trying to get me drunk so i can go back to his hse. And where r these guys that wanna leave the bar and get dinner. Thats not the drive thru?

    1. It is a bit different in a city. You can easily walk from the bar to a nearby restaurant, chatting along the way. I can see how breaking up into separate cars would be not as much fun. Also remember, at a bar you’re in control of the amount you drink. Since there isn’t a time limit (like dinner) you don’t have to feel obligated to have another drink just to kill time.

  4. I just had this convo with my friend where she told me a guy is supposed to pay so dinner on first date is fine. I think men are tired of this expectation and putting them in a more relaxed atmosphere (drinks) is the best first step.
    Great post!

  5. I do consider all of the ideas you have offered to your post. They are very convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick for beginners. May just you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

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