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‘Mortifying date that turned me sober’

The other week I went on a coffee date that was going really well. So when he threw out the suggestion that we go and get some lunch and a wine somewhere else, I thought: “Why the heck not!”As we perused the menu he offered to get us some drinks, I asked for a glass…

The other week I went on a coffee date that was going really well. So when he threw out the suggestion that we go and get some lunch and a wine somewhere else, I thought: “Why the heck not!”

As we perused the menu he offered to get us some drinks, I asked for a glass of red wine and to my surprise he came back with a bottle. OK cool, I figured we would stay for a while so a few glasses would be grand.

Only problem was that by the time I had finished one glass, he had finished the bottle and was already ordering a second one.

By the time I had finished my second glass he had finished the second bottle and was about to order a third. Oh lord. It was around this time he started getting a little obnoxious and ranting. So I made my excuse and high tailed it out of there.

What followed was a bunch of texts that made absolutely no sense.

Shaking my head, I had a sudden realisation that made me shudder. I’ve been that person on a date. The nerves have hit and I’ve decided a bottle of wine would sort that out quick smart. Oh god, is that how I’ve behaved?

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To be fair, any time I’ve decided to go a little bit rogue on the alcohol, the bloke has to. It usually results in a rather large headache the next day and a few ‘lol’ texts as we both laugh our way out of a hazy memory of a date.

But this was a Sunday and no one wants a hangover on a Monday. Plus, he was light years ahead of me on an intoxication level and with sober eyes I have to say it ain’t pretty.

The next day when he made a grovelling apology and followed it up with a phone call, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Heck, we’ve all made mistakes.

So we decided the next date would be a nice afternoon walk and dinner. Sober.

I thought it would be tricky. Especially the dinner part. How do you order a steak in a lovely restaurant and not enjoy it with a robust red?!

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Well, actually, it turns out it’s actually pretty darn easy. The date was fine, but without a gin-infused giddiness that brings with it a sense of fake intimacy, I could say with a very clear head that he wasn’t for me. So we went our merry ways.

What stayed with me, however, was that alcohol doesn’t have to play such a key part in a date. Since then I’ve changed the way I date.

I’ve limited myself to three glasses of wine, have tried to either eat a meal before or during the date, and I’ve learnt to sit with those nervous feelings rather than attempt to drown them out with alcohol. I assure you, they do eventually subside.

A therapist friend recently told me that first dates are supposed to be slightly awkward. Those of us who are perfectionists tend to try and control a first date and want it to run as smoothly as possible. When nerves pop up we try to rid them as quickly as we can. But nerves are a very normal part of dating.

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When I pondered on it, I realised there is actually something very sweet about realising the person sitting opposite you is a bit jittery. Kinda flattering. So why do we try and avoid it?

My therapist friend told me that when you feel nervous energy, turn it into excited energy and it will give you a lovely little adrenaline boost. She was right.

It sounds ridiculous, but honestly without those beer goggles, you sure do tend to make better decisions. No regrets the next morning, and you tend to figure out much faster whether you have real feelings for someone or it’s just the vodka making you go all gaga.

Sheesh no one needs to hear about your first boyfriend who broke your heart. Put down the G&T and give sober dating a red hot crack. It may just help you find the one. It’s like what dating was like back in high school. Kinda fun, right!

Jana Hocking is a podcaster and collector of kind-of-boyfriends | @jana_hocking

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