Sober sex and British daters don’t mix

published on 24. Feb 2017

Match champions dry dating this January and beyond as new research reveals a lack of confidence leads to a reliance on alcohol amongst British daters’

  • Match launches initiative to encourage people to have the confidence to date sober by creating world’s first breathalyser activated condom machine – with condoms released to those who are sober only
  • Over a third of shy singles admit they have never slept with someone for the first time completely sober
  • Research also showed average date involves three drinks for Dutch courage
  • To help encourage confidence without alcohol, Match’s dating expert provides her top tips for alcohol-free dating


26th January 2016, LONDON – Match, the UK’s most successful dating service, has launched an initiative to give people the confidence to date sober, after research revealed three quarters (73 per cent) of active daters say alcohol makes it easier for them to date.


British daters have struggled without their fix of Dutch courage this Dry January according to new research from Match which reveals 90% of singles usually drink on every date and with over a third (36 per cent) of singles admitting they have never had the confidence to sleep with someone for the first time completely sober.


Drinking and dating go hand in hand, with the majority (58 per cent) of dates involving alcohol.  Over half (52 per cent) of singles don’t think they could have the confidence to approach someone if they are sober and one in ten (nine per cent) drink on every occasion.


The research revealed that without alcohol singles find dates tricky or nerve-wracking, four in ten (42 per cent) recent sexual experiences have taken place under the influence.  A further third (38 per cent) don’t have the confidence to get naked in the bedroom without having booze beforehand. Men are least likely to have sober sex, with almost half (47 per cent) drinking beforehand compared to a third (36 per cent) of women.


Daters see released inhibitions as a key advantage of drinking with a fifth (20 per cent) believing they perform better and that their partner becomes more adventurous (23 per cent).  Of course the downside is that singles can forget to exchange phone numbers (22 per cent) or even under perform in the bedroom (11 per cent).


To help champion sober sex this January and beyond, with the aim of encouraging singles to have the confidence to get out there and keep dating, Match has created ‘Johnny Be Good’, a breathalyser-activated condom vending machine.  The machine has been positioned in a pub in central London for a trial period, with the possibility of a nationwide rollout and will dispense condoms to those who can prove they’re sober.  To use the machine daters simply need to breathe into the breathalyser and anyone under the legal driving limit will receive a free condom.


Madeleine Mason, dating psychologist, said “The feeling of fear and anxiety usually lies behind the lack of confidence people are experiencing, which from a physiological perspective is an activation of the nervous system (breathing and heart beat speeds up creating a form of arousal). The impulse is to calm the nervous system down by consuming alcohol. The solution is simple really:

  • Reframe the anxiety to excitement. If you think about it, excitement has the exact same physiological response as anxiety*
  • When you are excited your heart beast faster, you get flustered etc.
  • What if you are excited about your date and not anxious?
  • Not only will you get free condoms from Johnny, you will have more fun and save on drinks.”


Kate Taylor, dating expert for Match, said: “This is sobering news. Brits’ reliance on alcohol for dating suggests that almost none of us has the confidence to express ourselves without a drink. Try not to hide your shyness behind a shandy. Instead, learn to love your imperfections and trust that others will love them too, even over just a coffee.”

Kate’s top tips for dating with confidence:

1) Give yourself a natural boost by getting your endorphins going before a date. Walk to wherever you’re meeting your date, or go for a light jog just before. This will help to raise your endorphins, making you feel happier and more confident overall.

2) Use the journey to your date as a time to calm down. Call a supportive friend who can remind you why you’re amazing. Read some positive-thinking mantras online. Keep a list of your 3 best qualities stored on your phone. Whenever you notice you’re thinking negatively about yourself, make a conscious effort to focus on something good about yourself instead.

3) Heavy breathing on your date won’t calm your nerves. Instead, try the “4-7-8” breathing technique from Dr Andrew Weil. Inhale through your nose for four counts. Hold your breath for seven counts. Then, exhale while counting to eight. Repeat the cycle three times. Do it just before you meet your date, and every time you use the bathroom.

4) Dinner date? You can order positivity-inspiring food without looking scarily vegan. Go for side-orders of green leafy veg, add extra salad (lettuce is very calming), choose a granary roll from the bread basket, or opt for oily fish – like smoked salmon – as a starter.

5) If you need alcohol to feel uninhibited in bed, chances are you’re simply going to bed too soon. Wait a few more dates. When you know your partner has seen the good and bad sides of your personality and adores you anyway, you’ll feel much more relaxed, and less performance-oriented, under the covers.

To view Match’s new #LoveYourImperfections commercial, visit



Notes to Editors

*Studies by Dr. Alison Brooks at Harvard Business School found that people who reframed their anxious arousal as excitement felt more excited and performed better than people who simply numbed their feelings of anxiety.

Media Contacts

For images and video content of the sober sex ‘Johnny Be Good’ machine please contact:


Dating psychologist Madeleine Mason is available for interview to talk about Match’s campaign and the link between drinking, dating and confidence.


Brands2Life – 020 7592 1200 and



About #LoveYourImperfections:

#LoveYourImperfections is Match’s campaign to give singles the confidence to express their true selves. Having first launched in January 2015, the campaign aims to highlight the imperfections and quirks which Brits normally hide, but which potential partners could find endearing or attractive.

About Match: 

As the most successful dating service in the UK, 1 in 2 online daters* have used Match and 1 in 5 singles who met their partner online, met on Match*.   As the number 1 dating for young online daters**, Match continues to empower singles to meet exciting and interesting people that you would not otherwise have met.

Match offers members more ways to meet, including singles events located in 32 cities, one of the reasons it’s been voted as the under 35’s number 1 choice for great singles night out**.  It’s also available on all mobile platforms making it the perfect dating companion for busy singles on-the-go.

As a founding member of the Online Dating Association (ODA), Match is committed to providing a safe and confidential community for its members.

*Survey conducted by Censuswide from December 22nd 2015 to 4th January 2016 among 1,000 single respondents aged 18+, who drink alcohol and are actively dating.

MATCH. Laura Gallagher, 28, and Will Turner-Roder, 28, with the Johhny Be Good breathaliser condom machine to promote sober sex. London.
About Match As the ultimate dating service in the UK, almost 1 in 3 online daters* have used Match and almost 1 in 5 singles who met their partner online, met on Match. Match continues to empower singles to meet exciting and interesting people that you would not otherwise have met – 2.6M people have already met someone on Match.** As a founding member of the Online Dating Association (ODA), Match is committed to providing a safe and confidential community for its members.
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