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The days of wine and dating

Posted on Monday, January 25, 2010 in dating, Happiness, Relationships, Singles

“How do you know if someone’s an alcoholic?” Sara asked me as she handed me a glass of zin.

I looked at the wine in my hand, then at her.

“Is this a way of euphemistically asking me if I think I’m a drunk?”

“No, of course not! We like to drink, but we’re not alcoholics.”

“So, who do you think is?”

“I finally had a date with Richie, that guy from Match, last week, remember? I really like him, but he
kicked back six cocktails by the time he drove
me home.”   

“He had six drinks, and then you let him drive you home? Are you crazy? That’s worse than him being a drunk!”

“Well, I didn’t add it all up at the time, even though
it seemed like he was drinking a lot. I thought about it after. But, he didn’t even act drunk or anything. So, how do you know?”

Good question.

Drinking is so ingrained in our culture,
there are probably many people who look like social drinkers but who are really alcoholics, and many people who
look like alcoholics but just like to have a good time.

Good luck trying to decipher that when you’re getting to know someone.

A few years ago I had a first date-gone-wrong with
a guy I’d met online. We met for happy hour at an oyster bar in San Francisco, and as we chatted and sucked down an oyster platter, I suddenly felt the wine smack me upside the head. I hadn’t eaten all day, and here I was — half a glass of wine in me and looped! He never called again, and I don’t blame him; he probably thought I was one of those female boozers who’d end up turning all psycho
on him (although I was delightedly surprised he didn’t at least try to take advantage of me.)

There have certainly been times when I made a bad judgment call like Sara did — driving with someone who’d had too much to drink or who even had an open beer in the car. And there was a time in my life when I’d have thought, “One guy, six drinks = total alcoholic,” but it’s a little more complicated than that.

By some measures, I might be questionable. Why? Because I drink alone. Yes, well, I also happen to live alone and thus eat, sleep, cook, watch DVDs and masturbate alone, too — what choice do I have?

But when you’re dating, unless you’re in recovery or a total teetotaler, booze is often along for the ride. And, that’s OK with me; I want a guy who enjoys good wine and good food with me, and who can have a cocktail or two. I could date someone who doesn’t drink, but I might be unhappy if I couldn’t drink while we were together (still, not a deal-breaker if all else is pretty darn good).

It’s hard to figure out who’s a social drinker and who’s a boozer, especially on a first date.

Given my half-glass-and-looped first date experience, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt (although, honestly, six drinks … and then driving? A boozer or not, Sara’s date was just plain stupid!)

But, if you’ve been with someone for a while and are asking, “How do you know if someone’s an alcoholic?” well, I’m 99 percent positive you already know the answer.

  • Do you drink on a first date?
  • Do you pay attention to how much your date drinks?
  • Do you ever worry about someone’s drinking? Your own?

Photo © Daria Miroshnikova –

Bring on the comments

  1. Mike says:

    I don’t drink. I do watch my date on drinking. While I don’t care if she drinks, but if she’s tossing them back constantly. She’s not for me.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Realitivity =-.

  2. Steve says:

    A person doesn’t need obviously dysfunctional behavior to be an alcoholic. There are “functional alcoholics”.

    There are even alcoholics called “binge drinkers” who may go months without a drink, but when they do drink they get inebriated 100% of the time.

    It has never been a first date issue for me.

    Obviously, I wouldn’t ask a woman out again who got drunk on a first date. I might not ask her out again even if she stayed sober, but had more than 2-3 drinks.

  3. Jenni says:

    1.) I do drink of the first date. But I don’t allow myself to get sloppy drunk. I also only drink if the other person as well [I went on one date where I was the one drinking and he wasn’t – it was very awkward.]

    2.) I do pay attention these days, because my ex-husband was an alcoholic. It was one of several factors that ended our marriage.
    .-= Jenni´s last blog ..Ctrl. – Alt. – Date Me. =-.

  4. BigLittleWolf
    Twitter: BigLittleWolf

    I have known one or two “functional alcoholics” and that’s more disturbing to me. I cannot tell when they are blitzed and when they aren’t. I will say that in one case, knowing that a particular gentleman is an (admitted) alcoholic (though he does not drive, ever; he’s in a city where it is unnecessary), I put up a wall in my heart, to care only so much.

    I’ve been on so many first dates in the past years! I’m not much of a drinker anyway (1 glass of wine and I’m happy, two glasses and I’m a rhyming fool). I do pay attention to how much the other party drinks. If it’s not at all, that’s fine. If it’s more than two, before a meal? Not so much.
    .-= BigLittleWolf´s last blog ..Betty White won’t you be my Valentine? =-.

  5. KC says:

    I’m a non-drinker. Haven’t for a long time. I had to find ways to lose my inhibitions without alcohol. At first, it was hard to be around people (dates) that drank but as time went by, drinking friends wasn’t an issue. A couple of years ago, I had a girlfriend that started out as a long distance relationship and soon became an every weekend experience. I loved that because it gave me time to do things during the week and then spend quality time with her on the weekends. She would have a glass of wine or two when we would go out but never drank more than that. Then, one weekend, we were in Marin and we went out dancing, and she got hammered! I had to practically carry her out while trying to keep her clothes on… she was out of control. The next day, she apologized, said that had never happened before and it would never happen again. Well, our relationship grew and we ended up moving in together. That’s when I found out that she “hid” her drinking VERY well. You would have never known how much she drank if you didn’t live with her. She hid bottles, she bought the same kind of wine all the time so she could open more than one bottle and it would look like she only had a glass of wine. In a short time, it got real ugly… I found out that it was VERY difficult for her to only have a glass or two of wine on the weekends and that she actually drank at least a bottle of wine a night… Well, I talked to her about this problem, and yes, when she got drunk, it was always a problem…. when she chose getting drunk over our relationship…. it ended…
    Bottom line, I don’t mind people drinking when the don’t have a problem with it… but if it’s a problem or causes problems.. then they need to look at that and do something about it… I found out later that it had been a problem in other relationships she had… she was just getting better at hiding it….

  6. Linda says:

    Yes, I will drink on the first date, but only if my date has a drink as well. I’m very aware of how many drinks they have as well. I used to be a cocktail waitress and it’s just a habit to count drinks! 🙂

    I don’t wonder about my own drinking, because as an adult with functioning alcoholic parents, well, let’s just say it’s not the life I want.

  7. Kat Wilder says:

    New blog posting, The days of wine and dating –

  8. Kat Wilder says:

    Mike — yeah, me neither

    Steve — so, 2-3 drinks would be the deal-breaker? On a first date, or would you give her the benefit of the doubt for Date No. 2?

    Jenni — anyone who’s lived with an alcoholic is always looking for red flags in future partners. We live, we learn … and we still make mistakes.

    LBW — It’s natural to put the wall up a little if you’re attracted to someone who drinks too much. It’s probably a sign that you shouldn’t be so attracted …

    KC — I’m sorry about that relationship. It is heartbreaking when we see someone we care about heading toward a self-destructing path.

    Linda — Yes, well, that’s another reason why being a cocktail waitress/bartender gives you entry into people’s lives. I bet you have a lot of interesting stories from those days,

  9. dadshouse
    Twitter: dadshouseblog

    I agree, if you are wondering whether someone is an alcoholic, based on your observations of them, they probably are one. Or at least, they drink more than you’re comfortable.

    As for drinking alone – I do it! I’m a single dad, and when my kids aren’t here, I’m not exactly out every night of the week. There are times I’m home alone, chilling out. No, I’m not depressed or drowning sorrows. I’m merely enjoying a cocktail at the end of a long day.

    And that, dear friend, is why I blog cocktail recipes.
    .-= dadshouse´s last blog ..Should an Ex-Wife’s Boyfriend Visit the Dad’s House? =-.

  10. Kat Wilder says:

    Dad — Maybe we should plan to drink together more often … 😉

  11. brian says:

    Sounds like a “functioning” alcoholic
    Aside from health and safety(driving)issues if he is pounding down that much booze its also likely that your friend will find out he is non-functioning in the bedroom department