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Seven Sober Dates: Impress Your Special Someone With a Sober Valentine's Day Plan

January 17, 2024
19 min read
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A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
January 17, 2024
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
January 17, 2024
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
January 17, 2024
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Reframe Content Team
January 17, 2024
19 min read

Booze-Free Romance: Explore Seven Sober Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

  • While alcohol is often seen as a staple in dating life, it can often be a romance buzzkill, and it doesn’t always foster authentic connections. 

  • There are many alcohol-free date ideas to explore this Valentine’s Day, including stargazing, going to artistic events, spending time in nature, creating and playing out an imaginary scenario, and trying tantra yoga.
  • Reframe can help — we offer science-backed readings and courses about relationships and how alcohol fits into the picture.

It’s the question we hear every time we sit down at a restaurant, and it’s never a surprise: “What would you like to drink?” But if we’re trying to cut back or quit drinking, this question can loom large in our minds — especially on date night.

These days, things have gotten a bit easier. Many people are open about their drinking preferences (including the fact that they don’t drink) in their online dating profiles, and some even share bits of their alcohol journey on social media or in casual conversations with old and new friends alike. Still, a bottle of wine with dinner is a persistent date night stereotype, and it can sometime feel like a potential obstacle to those of us who are trying to stay sober without being kicked out of the dating pool.

While many times the concern is mostly in our minds (and anyone we’d want to date would probably be fine with our preferences), it can still be stressful. So to make things easier and more fun this Valentine’s Day, let’s brainstorm some non-drinking date ideas and sober activities for couples to enjoy together.

Part 1. Alcohol vs. Love

First, let’s review some common misconceptions about alcohol and dating in general — and the science-backed reasons why they’re not true.

  • “Alcohol helps me socialize.” This is one of the most common alcohol myths. Sure, alcohol can make us feel like we’re the life of the party, but more often than not, it’s all an illusion. We’ve all been around someone who, after having a few too many, started talking loudly over other people or making “jokes” that nobody would find funny in a sober state. Authentic socializing, on the other hand, is all about genuine connections and requires our mind and attention to be engaged and fully functioning. Plus, what’s the fun in “memories” of an “epic night out” that we don’t actually remember (and can only verify by looking at photos we posted the next day)?
  • “I can’t get in the mood without a drink.” This is another big one. We all know that alcohol can make us a bit more frisky, but there’s a crucial difference between genuine attraction and so-called “beer goggles.” Besides, booze is known to disrupt sexual performance in men (and actually tends to make the experience less enjoyable for women as well by dulling the senses and reducing their emotional connection with their partner).
  • “You have to have wine on a date, especially on Valentine’s Day.” Says who? Valentine’s Day and alcohol might have gotten connected in pop culture and the media, but there’s no inherent link between the two. Instead, why not make it a day to appreciate and foster some of our most important relationships, whether with family members, romantic partners, or friends?

Part 2. Seven Sober Dates

Now for the fun part! We’ve got Seven ideas for sober date nights that will leave you with lasting memories and will ignite the spark between you and that special someone this year.

1. “Love the Stars” Together 

Who doesn’t love gazing into the night sky? Centuries ago, Greek philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” So check out which stars are visible in your location on a certain night and head out with some snacks, an extra layer of clothing, and a thermos with jasmine green tea or a spicy chai latte. 

There’s also a bit of extra meaning behind this stargazing date night  — one that has potential to help future generations have a chance to fall in love under those very same stars as well. In recent decades, there’s been increasing concern that light pollution (excess lighting from buildings, night traffic, stadium floodlights, and even holiday decorations) has been drowning out the light of the stars to the point that most people around the globe have never seen the Milky Way. In recent years, the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab has set up a project called “Globe at Night” — an international citizen-science campaign that invites people all over the world to help fight light pollution simply by keeping a record of the stars they see at their particular location on a given day. In February, they hold a special fundraising campaign called “Love the Stars,” which connects our natural love for the night sky and the romance it brings with an opportunity to help preserve it. Why not give it a try this year?

Stargazing together can help you connect to each other — and to the world — in a way that inspires gratitude and naturally puts alcohol in the background. There’s also a refreshing minimalism about it that helps declutter your mind and sharpen your senses (unlike the boozy brain fog that drinking creates).

And for an extra flair, bring some portable speakers and play “I Love the Stars” by The Orion Experience, which puts the love of the stars to music: “I love the night, I love the mystery / I love to gaze into infinity / Little lights that lead as far as I can see / I love the way they seem to wink at me…” 

2. Plan an Outdoor Adventure

As kids, we’re outside all the time — in fact, it can be a challenge for parents to get us to come back indoors when we’re busy climbing trees, drawing portraits of our family in chalk on the sidewalk, or pretending we’re steering a ship to a deserted island in the backyard pool. But when we grow up, work and other responsibilities get in the way and edge out outdoor time.

If there’s a nature reserve or park nearby, plan a hiking trip together! Bring snacks, your favorite non-alcoholic drinks, and romantic music to listen to when you take a break to sit down and enjoy the view.

Engaging in a physical activity while also spending time outdoors is a double-whammy when it comes to reducing alcohol cravings. Ecotherapy — spending time in nature — is a science-backed way to lower stress. Likewise, exercise releases endorphins and reduces cortisol levels, boosting our well-being and natural resilience while keeping alcohol cravings at bay.

3. Explore the Local Arts Scene

One of the best ways for creative types to connect is to engage in an activity that involves the arts. If you live in a city, there are likely to be plenty of museums, theaters, and art galleries to choose from. Go for something that you will both enjoy, whether that’s a modern rendition of the Aida in a local university theater, a new exhibit of Sumerian pottery, or a Portuguese film at an arts festival. Pick something that will keep you entertained and creatively inspired while giving you something interesting to talk about.

Smaller towns have plenty of opportunities for artistic exploration, too! Explore local galleries, community theaters, or music festivals. Many coffee shops hold poetry readings or open mic nights, as do some bookstores and libraries. If all else fails, start your own arts night! Get a few friends together (or just the two of you, if you prefer) to jam or share something you’ve written.

In addition to bringing you closer and giving you something interesting to chat about, engaging your creativity is a great way to stay on track when  it comes to alcohol. The natural dopamine release involved in making and enjoying art rivals (and often surpasses) the brief boost of happy chemicals provided by alcohol.

4. Get in Character

If you watch the sitcom Modern Family, you know there’s a recurring plot line with Claire and Phil spicing up their date nights with some (PG-rated, “just-for-fun”) roleplay by acting out stories as fictional characters. The situation inevitably becomes comedic and maybe mildly embarrassing (for our benefit as viewers), but it illustrates an important point — creativity nourishes relationships and dressing up isn’t just for kids.

While in the show roleplay is used as a comedic setup, in real life it can add an unexpected twist that helps you get to know your partner better by engaging with them in a new way. It can take on whatever form you’re comfortable with — acting out a scene from a movie, dressing up in something that represents the characters you made up and going out. Being just outside your comfort zone but still on board with the situation in general is key here.

Whatever the mood is — silly, entertaining, or adventurous — it’s a chance to explore a different personality, see each other in a new light, and create a fun story together while acting it out. And as far as alcohol is concerned, the element of creativity mixed with novelty will help keep the feel-good neurotransmitters going, keeping cravings away.

5. Try Tantra Yoga

As Slavoj Žižek puts it in Living in the End Times, “Our biological body itself is a form of hardware that needs reprogramming through tantra like a new spiritual software which can release or unblock its potential.”

Many wellness centers and yoga studios hold tantra workshops for couples, especially around Valentine’s Day. These can range from hour-long classes to full-day workshops or even weekend retreats. Activities usually include some aspects of traditional yoga asanas, breathing exercises, and various partner exercises that involve synchronized breathing, eye-gazing, and exploring various types of touch. There might also be a time for learning the background of tantra philosophy (it’s all about the “twin flames” of masculine and feminine energy complementing and empowering each other).

In many ways, tantra yoga practice has it all when it comes to connecting with your partner and staying sober. The element of mindfulness and meditation is a science-backed way to overcome cravings by learning to watch your own mind and have greater control over which thoughts you decide to act on. The spirit of creativity and physical movement are also powerful craving busters, as is the meaningful personal connection you’ll experience.

(This is definitely not a first date idea! It’s more suitable for deepening an existing bond rather than creating a new one.)

6. Take a Dancing Class

As far as first dates go, ballroom dancing is an old favorite for a reason! It’s a great way to break the ice and have something physical to do with specific instructions to follow (it’s harder than it looks, but that’s all part of the fun — nobody is judging!). Whether it’s a flirty foxtrot, romantic waltz, or energizing swing, it’s bound to make both of you feel more at ease with each other and probably have some laughs. And this type of dancing certainly doesn’t mix well with booze — you need all the coordination and attention you have, as well as your clarity of mind (and both of your hands).

7. Go to a Theme Park or Arcade

Finally, another great way to tap into the energy and fun you had as a child is to go to a theme park or arcade together. Once again, you’ll have specific activities to do — lots of them! — so there’s no question of boredom or awkward silences.

Theme park rides can also be a bit scary (in a good way), but getting adrenaline flowing in a way that provides a “safe” thrill can actually be a great way to stave off cravings. Engaging your senses makes you feel “alive” in a more authentic way without the need for the illusion of excitement that alcohol provides. Plus, it’s a great excuse to snuggle up to each other and hold hands (maybe even extra tightly during some parts!).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

No matter what you choose, congrats for being creative and thinking outside the box when it comes to date ideas. In addition to making a great step to a healthier version of yourself, you’re showing your partner that you’re willing to put extra effort into making sure your time together is meaningful and fosters authentic connection. 

Summary FAQs:

1. Why is a sober Valentine's Day plan important for some couples?

For those trying to cut back or stop drinking, a sober Valentine's Day plan helps avoid the pressure to drink and puts the emphasis on creating meaningful connections and memories without alcohol.

2. What are some common misconceptions about alcohol and dating?

There are many common misconceptions about alcohol and dating, including the idea that alcohol is necessary for socializing and setting a romantic mood or that it’s an integral part of date nights and Valentine’s Day in particular. These ideas overlook the value of authentic connections and experiences that flourish without alcohol rather than with it.

3. Can you suggest some creative sober date ideas for Valentine’s Day?

Absolutely! Ideas include stargazing, going on an outdoor adventure, exploring local arts and culture, engaging in playful roleplay, and trying activities like tantra yoga, which focus on deepening the connection in a fun, alcohol-free environment. You can also go to an amusement park or arcade or try ballroom dancing!

4. How can avoiding alcohol make the mood more romantic on Valentine's Day?

Avoiding alcohol can enhance the romantic mood by allowing for authentic emotions and interactions. It ensures that both partners are fully present and can enjoy each other's company to the fullest, creating more meaningful and memorable experiences and memories.

5. What is the overall benefit of planning a sober Valentine’s Day?

The overall benefit is creating a stronger, more genuine bond with your partner. Sober dates call for creativity in planning unique experiences and emphasize the importance of personal well-being and mutual enjoyment over societal expectations about alcohol and dating.

Ready for a Sober Valentine’s Day Celebration? Reframe Can Help You Get There!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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