One in four singles rely on drink for dating confidence

Mental health & wellbeing  |  January 31, 2019

This is according to new research from eharmony and charity Alcohol Change looking at the relationship between alcohol and dating. Excluding teetotallers, more than half of singles say that either most or all of their dates involve alcohol in some way, while a further one in eight (13%) always drink on a date. Singles across Britain rely on alcohol as a crutch when meeting new people, with 10.8m drinks per month consumed on dates. Yet one in six daters has pledged to give up for Dry January leading to a spike in sober dating.  


say almost all of their dates involve alcohol (excluding teetotallers)

Attitudes to alcohol consumption

Many singles tend to lean on alcohol for confidence when meeting a potential partner – a quarter (25%) feel they need alcohol for ‘Dutch courage’, with women (32%) more likely to feel this way than men (19%). Meanwhile, nearly a third (29%) think alcohol helps the conversation flow and one in 10 (11%) drink on dates due to feeling societal pressure to do so. While drinking can help singles feel more at ease, there can be negative consequences – one in 10 (9%) drinkers has done something embarrassing due to alcohol when out on a date, with this increasing to 16% for 18-34 years-olds. What’s more, one in five (21%) admit that they’ve kissed someone they wouldn’t have chosen to kiss if sober. Similarly, 17% have slept with someone while under the influence and later wished they hadn’t – with single men (19%) slightly more likely than women (16%) admit to doing so.  On the plus side, half of singles (49%) say that dating without the drinks allows them to see a potential partner’s true personality and a similar proportion (57%) agree that sober dating means they are less likely to do something they may regret.  

Total % who agree
(% of men)
(% of women)

Need alcohol for ‘dutch courage’

Have slept with someone they wouldn’t have slept with if sober

Have acted in an embarrassing way on a date, due to alcohol

Have kissed someone they wouldn’t have kissed while sober

Feel less likely to do something regretful on a sober date

Feel it’s easier to see the real personality of a potential partner

The conversation flows better with alcohol

There is societal pressure to drink

n = 1,001; Percentages rounded; supported

For alcohol-free dates, simple ideas are favoured

Britain is famously a drinking culture and we typically use alcohol to oil the wheels of conversation and build confidence at social gatherings. But, it’s also worth bearing in mind that alcohol can compromise our sense of reality. We might find ourselves bonding with people more intensely than we’d intended, over-sharing about our own lives or ignoring potential red flags. Dry January provides the perfect opportunity to sample sober dating – which though historically a niche trend – is gaining popularity as more singles yearn for meaningful connections. With sober dating you get a far more objective view of who you’re spending time with and can explore chemistry and compatibility in a more realistic context. Simply going for a walk (40%) tops the list for booze-free first date options, followed by a cinema trip (40%), or moving things earlier in the day and having lunch (36%) or coffee (32%). 


of people would prefer to go for a walk for an alcohol-free date


of people would choose the cinema as their booze-free date idea

Study information
  • Study typeSurvey
  • InstituteAlcohol Concern
  • Region/City/CountryUK
  • LanguageEnglish