Lucy Cavendish: Drinking and dating

By Lucy Cavendish

So, here you go, you’ve actually got your first date with someone. Maybe you have built up a relationship online or via the telephone for a bit. You’ve got on. There has been a spark. Now you are going on a date.

Drinking on the first date

All good but now….drinking rears its ugly head, and I say ‘ugly’ because drinking on the first date – how much to drink, what to drink, what not to drink – is one of the most contentious issues ever. I have heard of people (not me of course) who have become so nervous at the very thought of going on a date that they’ve drunk a bit too much before they have even gone on it. It is commonly known as Dutch Courage and I am sure we have all done it at some point.

“She woke up feeling embarrassed and not remembering much of the date.”


The problem is, this person felt so tipsy after the first glass of wine that she had to leave swiftly afterwards. She then woke up feeling terribly embarrassed and not remembering very much of the date anyway. She texted the man to apologise but…the damage was done. She never heard from him again which was a shame as they had spent a few weeks building up a communication that looked promising.

“A glass of wine to break the ice.”

The point is, drinking on a date is fine as long as you don’t consume too much. A glass of wine to break the ice, to give confidence and to get things going in a more relaxed fashion is utterly to be expected. I’ve been on dates where the man has nursed one cup of coffee for TWO hours and it wasn’t attractive! It’s lovely to have a cocktail, share a bottle of wine, have a sundowner or whatever it is that you like.

There is something that makes the date go with a bang – all those initial inhibitions leave you and suddenly life becomes a funnier and warmer place. Unless you – or your date – is AA or allergic to alcohol or just doesn’t drink (maybe driving etc) then the idea of sharing a drink together is a good one, a total ice breaker.

Finding the middle ground

However, it is not a good idea to get drunk, especially if the other person isn’t drinking. In fact, even if the other person is drinking, it is still not a good idea. It’s fine to get a bit merry but drunk is bad. Drunk may lead you – and them – to place you do not want to go. Also, if you are drinking excessively, whether to hide your nerves or not, and they are not drinking, you will not be showing yourself in a good light. No one who is sober wants to be around drunk people. It all gets too boring and repetitive and tricky.

Then again, it is fine to have fun, to chill out – just make sure you are both drinking the same amount and then all should be well. But bear in mind, you want to enjoy it and remember it and keep those defences up for a bit until trust has grown – getting too drunk may leave you feeling somewhat exposed. So enjoy a drink, but not too many.


1) Do NOT have a drink before you go out. You may want to, but it is best to remain stone cold sober

2) Know how much you can drink without crying/wanting to tell a stranger you love them.

3) Agree with yourself how much you will have – a shared bottle of wine over a meal should be fine

4) If they are drinking too much and it is making you feel uncomfortable, make your excuses and leave

5) Recognise the fact that we are all looking for different things – if you don’t drink much, make that clear and only go on dates with people who can stick to what you feel comfortable with.

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About Lucy Cavendish

Lucy Cavendish is a successful journalist and mother of four living in Oxfordshire. She writes for the Times, the Guardian, and the Daily Mail. Article courtesy of The Lady.