I was never a particularly big drinker growing up. In fact, if you ask my friends what my favourite drink is, they’ll still probably answer Diet Coke. From the age of 18 onwards, I was the designated driver. I’ve never been a shrinking violet, and so never really needed to extra confidence which a lot of my friends would turn to alcohol to find.
At University, I played a great deal of sport, and so alcohol was something I tended to avoid. I still went out at least four nights a week, something which proved tricky at times, because the social scene at Cambridge revolved around drinking. The Oxbridge equivalent of sororities and fraternities are known as ‘Drinking Societies’, and I was head of my college female drinking society – a role, which seemed to inevitably involve drinking.
Despite my argument that I was just as fun sober as I was drunk, over the four years I socialised at University, I can’t count how many times the issue of me bringing a bottle of soft drink on a social was brought up. Men would line glass after glass of wine in front of me, as if the second or third was suddenly more attractive than the first, and I can remember one particularly charming guy turning his back on me, and refusing to talk when he realised I wasn’t drinking.
At the very least, as a non-drinker, I made the drinkers feel bad. Somehow, knowing there was someone there who wasn’t indulging, seemed to make the ones who were feel more guilty. As if my presence underlined their over-indulgence. At times the more sordid side became evident. Some mens’ societies didn’t like there being a sensible, sober girl there, as that interfered with the ‘fun games’ they intended to play with the drunk girls.
Despite the odd critic, I held my own, rarely drank, and still ended up President of the Ospreys – the women’s sporting society, and a drinking society of sorts in itself. One of the most prolific roles a woman could hold in Cambridge.
Even in my years as a ski seasonaire, I rarely drank. I was there to ski and snowboard, and so I spent my evenings and nights working, so that my days were free to hit the slopes. I worked as a nanny and babysitter, and evening work was perfect for me.
Over the years, I realised one of the reasons I was never fussed about not drinking, was because I never really liked the taste of alcohol. I didn’t understand acquired tastes (I still don’t drink coffee), and so wine never appealed. It was only in recent years, after I returned to England, and began drinking with a friend who loves rose, that I found a drink I actually enjoy.
And so I began to appreciate rose (always mixed with lemonade – even in a pitch black restaurant!) and Prosecco.
Suddenly I had found two drinks I really rather enjoyed. And by dating in London, a train-ride from Reading, I had removed the complication of needing to drive at the end of a date.
It’s interesting, being able to look back on my last year of dating with pin-point accuracy. The majority of my dates are documented online, and so it’s easy for me to look back, and remember which ones I drove to, which ones I drank at, and compare how each date went.
I still maintain that I’m just as fun sober as I am drunk, and I don’t think I got on any better or worse with the guys on the dates when I drank alcohol, than I did on the ones where I wasn’t drinking.
One particularly bad date does stand out, which had alcohol involved – in hindsight I think the reason my date with Mr Twenty40 went so badly was because he had been drinking for most of the afternoon, but I didn’t know him well enough to identify just how drunk he was!
But the one difference I did notice, between the dates where I drank, and the ones where I didn’t, was how the dates ended.
I kissed three of my 30 Dates (or rather, they kissed me). And on all three of those dates, I was drinking.
I stayed over at two of my 30 Dates flats, and again, those were both dates when I was drinking.
And of the four guys I’ve slept with over the past year, the first time with three of them was after a drunken date …
Drinking lowers your inhibitions. You relax, and don’t conduct yourself as sensibly as you might like. And whether it’s fair or not, the reality of dating, is that people like a challenge. They like what they can’t get too easily … and alcohol can definitely help diminish the challenge. That was the reason some of the male drinking societies at Cambridge used to hate that I wasn’t drinking. I wasn’t an easy target. And on a university social, men aren’t looking for challenges, they’re looking for easy targets.
By contrast, the dates which turned into something more … the ones which developed into second and third dates, were ones where I didn’t drink first date. I was more reserved, waited more patiently to be kissed, and waited longer before sharing a bed with a guy, and as a result, I became a welcome challenge.
Because boys may have wanted an easy target back at Uni, but men look for a more complicated challenge when they’re dating, and frankly, as a woman I enjoy a challenge like the best of them!
Not everyone’s the same – maybe you’re a seasoned drinker, and it doesn’t affect your judgment. Maybe you need alcohol to relax and chat more confidently with a perfect stranger. Me, I know that, fun as a drunken night out with a stranger can be, I’m definitely more of a ‘long-term’ option if I don’t drink on a first date … though now I live in London, and work freelance, I may find myself struggling for excuses not to!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx