What do you remember about your most recent first date? Or do you maybe not remember all of it all too well?

Jamie Foxx’s encouragement of us to “blame it on the alcohol,” may or may not have aged well.

Dating app Bumble shared with Blavity survey data in which Black respondents shared their thoughts on the intersections of sobriety and alcohol consumption in their dating life. From it, they gathered: 

  • Nearly one in three (28%) Black respondents feel most comfortable when alcohol consumption is not involved on a date, regardless of whether they personally drink or do not drink.
  • Of those who drink, more than a quarter (26%) of Black respondents are making efforts to reduce their alcohol consumption.
  • 39% of Black respondents who are sober stated they are open to dating someone that is not sober.
  • 44% of Black respondents who drink are open to dating someone sober.
  • Of those who use dating apps, 65% of Black respondents disclose their drinking or non-drinking habits on their dating profiles.

In an effort to learn more about the effects of alcohol on dating within the Black community, we’ve connected with Black people from various walks of life to discuss their experiences with dating and alcohol. 

For Aria Said, founder, and CEO of the Transgender District, her best dates have been those without alcohol involved. Said says that her preference of dates without alcohol are rooted in the fact that it’s easier to get to know the other party.

“I think my best dates have been without drinking involved,” Said shared. "I think nightlife and dining out sort of encourages booze but I actually like daytime dates at amusement parks, a park, or a museum because you get to know a person a bit more than you do over dinner and small talk.”

While Said happens to be a proponent of sobriety when dating, other folks like Corey Fells prefer alcohol peek its head out just a bit in romantic courtships. Fells, the co-founder of Black Spaces, looks at it as a way of celebrating his partner. He finds alcohol consumption is a way for not only he and his partner to have fun but for his partner to feel celebrated for for achievement.

“[Alcohol] has always been positive, it is a way to put a cherry on top of a situation that is joyous, celebratory, or for a new occasion,” Fells said. “I always try to make my partner feel celebrated, as if the smallest accomplishments are milestones and that drinking, responsibly, is the occasion for us to celebrate.”

While these two proclivities are on opposite sides of the spectrum, it’s important to delve into the differences of when alcohol is and isn’t involved on dates.

Be it Saturday brunch or cocktails with your crew for happy hour, alcohol plays an incontestably massive role in our social lives. 

For Derrick Shaw, a graduate student at Grand Valley State University, the biggest difference is in the flow of the conversation. Shaw states that there is a difference is mainly in the flow of conversation as he feels that people express themselves a bit more after consuming alcohol, but that could also be a red flag.

“I’ve noticed that when alcohol is involved, people get a little more talkative and they’re a little more expressive but I guess that makes sense since alcohol makes you calmer. I’ve noticed that the conversation flows a lot better.”

While Shaw admits that the conversation between both parties does run smoother when alcohol is present, he prefers for his dates to be void of it.

“I don’t want someone to feel like in order for them to be truthful with me, they have to be dependent on alcohol to do so,” Shaw said. “I’d rather you be truthful with me without you having to drink anything because that makes me more comfortable and makes the relationship seem more authentic.”

While Black Americans have been statistically proven to consume less alcohol than our ethnic counterparts, we happen to be on the receiving end of harsher consequences including injuries and illnesses. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 5.1% of Black Americans 26 or older dealt with alcohol abuse. For Fells, while he has a few family members who struggle with alcohol addiction, it has no bearing on his dating life.

“I have a few family members that suffer from the abuse of alcohol, but that does not dictate my view on a person that likes to drink because everyone's tolerance and their ability to be self-aware are all different,” Fells said. “The close relationship I have with family members that have a problem with alcoholism does allow me to detect in others the difference [between] alcoholism and a person that tends to go overboard a few times with drinking."

"I determine that after a few months of knowing the person and seeing how she consumes alcohol, whether it's to have a good time, or if the drinking is tied to emotional woes," Fells added. 

While Fells said his family’s history of alcoholism allows him to more easily detect those same traits in romantic partners, Said, who also said her family has a history of addiction, actually serves as encouragement for her to proceed with caution when it comes to alcohol consumption.

“My birth parents were both crack addicts so I've always been cautious when engaging in drinking or even smoking marijuana,” Said told Blavity News. “Just because of my own personal trauma with my birth family but also my previous experiences with drug and alcohol in my teenage years."

Byron, who appeared in Bumble’s "The Joys Of Dating Sober" video and has been sober for three years, highlights the silver lining of not only being truthful about his family’s history but his sobriety as well.

“I’ve seen that it’s been helpful to tell people who aren’t in recovery, that I'm in recovery when going on dates,” Byron told Blavity. “I’ve had situations where they start to talk about how their mom is an addict or how their brother is an addict and they don’t know what to do. It can be positive or negative, it just depends on the audience.” 

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).