Chicago’s dating scene may soon see an increase in public intoxication, indecent exposure and most troubling, DUIs, that is, dating under the influence. This past July, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the “Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act,” lifting the Chicago ban that has prohibited happy hour specials since 1989. Chicagoland drinkers, now with a plethora of lower priced specials to choose from are rejoicing, but how will this affect the dating scene, in what is already one of the country’s highest-rated cities in relation to drinking?
Chicagoans have had a long-term, open relationship with alcohol, from speakeasies during Prohibition to being ranked multiple times as both one of the country’s top binge drinking cities and the best city in the United States to drink. Chicagoans love to drink and research has shown that happy hour specials not only increase drinking, but also the risk of negative outcomes associated with it, like risky sexual behavior, fighting, and drunk driving. The dating site “Are you interested (ayi.com)” also found that drinkers tend to be more social, sexual, and attractive to other drinkers. Combine the two and you have a more intoxicated, sexualized, and social population. Happy hour is a cheaper time to hit the bar to meet someone but may put you at risk. How can you make the most of your experience, the drinks and the date, while avoiding potential negative outcomes?
Set a time limit beforehand: Happy hour specials are for a limited time, so you’re already halfway to your goal. Setting limits helps avoid over-drinking and can also prevent you from over-investing (drunkenly or otherwise) too soon.
Limit your alcohol consumption: Limit yourself to two drinks. The goal on a happy hour date isn’t to take advantage of the specials, but to take advantage of an inexpensive, low pressure environment, while getting to know someone other than Don Julio or Jameson.
Talk about anything other than work: It makes sense that after work you would want to talk about work. It’s an easy conversational topic, but your date will turn to alcohol for distraction if all you can discuss are TPS reports.
Prepare: Review the 36 questions to make you fall in love, first published by psychologist Arthur Aron (more recently tested by the NY Times and Vice) for more interesting conversational topics. Also, call a friend before your date; it’s a good way to get your social skills flowing before you try and hold a non-work related conversation.
Dating in Chicago may get a little more tipsy, but you don’t have to be the one hungover. Sure, alcohol intake can benefit social interactions. It can be a social lubricant and help ease tension, but it also lowers inhibitions and lends to false feelings of similarity or connectivity. All in which can lead to over investing emotionally and physically. Happy hour is a time for fun but you should still take your dates seriously. Avoid over indulging in happy hour specials if you want to find happiness that lasts longer than a couple hours.
Happy hour listings in Chicago (Updated July 31, 2015):
- Timeout – Where to find happy hour specials in Chicago
- Thrillist – Best new happy hour specials in Chicago
- Eater – 15 spots for happy hour in Chicago
- Metromix – Happy hour specials in Chicago
*Edited by Rachel Ritter
Benjamin Ritter, MBA, MPH, Author of The Essentials, founder of Is Chivalry Dead, and a consultant for Suave Lover International and co-host of the Suave Lover podcast (subscribe on iTunes), is a freelance writer and a private relationship-and-social-dynamics coach in the areas of public health, fitness, and social dynamics, a writer and editor for Ask Men.com, and the interpersonal relationships columnist for atombash.com. His passion lies in guiding and providing tools to men for overall self-improvement.