25 Unexpected Valentine’s Day 2020 Date Ideas

On Valentine’s Day, the last thing you want to do is get stuck in a Netflix and takeout rut—or, worse, end up at a cheesy, overpriced, and decidedly unoriginal prix-fixe dinner. Whether you’re single, coupled up, or somewhere in between, ensure your V-Day is free of clichés with these non-boring ideas, below.

Have a Bonfire

image
Stocksy

If you live in the suburbs, grab some marshmallows, chocolates, and s’mores, then spend the night cuddling up by the fire. Bonus points if you can make one on the beach.


Chocolate Tasting and Truffle Making

Instead of buying crappy chocolates from the drugstore, sign up for a masterclass in chocolate-making. If you’re in the tri-state area, spend the night learning directly from the pros of NYC’s Roni-Sue’s and bring home 12 delicious truffles to eat in bed.

Proceeds from the class will support the Waterkeeper Alliance, which “aims to preserve and protect water by connecting local Waterkeeper organizations worldwide and promoting outspoken, citizen-led advocacy. “


Dancing

Not at the club—we mean real dancing. You can take a class, hit a salsa club, or go see live music that makes you want to groove. For the former, we suggest something like the Valentine’s Day Dirty Dancing Party in Chicago.


A Ghost Tour

The convenient thing about ghosts is that they tend to hang around old cities everywhere. Bonus points if you find a spooky event that includes booze like Portland’s Haunted Brewery Crawl, which comes with beer samples and a guided tour. (Two awesome reasons to sign up.)


Ice Skating and Après Skate

image
Getty Images

There’s a reason why couples are always hitting the rink in our favorite rom-coms—you’re pretty much guaranteed to get close to each other. Once you’ve had your fill of the ice, you can enjoy some hard-earned drinks. (Hot toddies, anyone?)


A Wine Bar Crawl

Instead of sticking to just one spot, hop from place-to-place and order different kinds of wine and tapas along the way. It’s waaay more interesting than a boring ol’ sit-down dinner. Of course, it doesn’t hurt stashing one away for later too.


A Scavenger Hunt

You can make up your own, complete with creative challenges, photo missions, and sexy prizes.


A Night at the Museum

A view of the interior walkways May 14,
STAN HONDAGetty Images

When museums stay open after hours, they tend to spice things up by throwing a party or holding a special event—especially on V-Day. Take an after-dark art tour for two like the one offered at the Guggenheim complete with chocolate truffles and champagne, accompanied by live music.


A Themed Dinner and Movie Night at Home

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Getty Images

Watching Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck fall in love in Roman Holiday is definitely more satisfying when accompanied by a big plate of homemade spaghetti and meatballs.


Go to a Basketball or Hockey Game

Use the night as an excuse to cheer on your favorite teams. For the more competitive couples, take a bet on the winning team and see who’s really buying dinner for the next week.

 

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Signs You Could Be Dating An Alcoholic

They need help

DRUNK WOMAN (Daily Nation)

Some people are so good at masking their real selves when they want to achieve something. That’s why it’s possible to date an alcoholic without knowing it. And by the time you know the truth, you will have tied the knot and a divorce is not always an easy decision.

When dating, you need to have your eyes wide open so that you know your partner well enough. It’s unlikely that they will come and tell you that they are struggling with alcohol. It’s upon you to watch out for the signs and make a decision.

If your partner portrays these signs, it’s possible that they are alcoholic:

1. They are always looking for an opportunity to drink

drunkdrunk

An alcoholic will even celebrate the smallest achievement with alcohol. When you have a small fight, they will go out drinking in order to release stress. It means they depend on alcohol to cope with the ups and downs of life.

2. They do not stick to one brand

Most people who take alcohol have a particular brand which they stick to. If your partner is not one of them and takes anything that is available, you need to get worried. Alcoholics do not care what they drink so long as it makes them drunk.

3. They have problems related to drinking

Signs you are dating an alcoholic Signs you are dating an alcoholic

If your partner has ever lost a job or done something humiliating due to drinking and they still won’t stop, they have a problem. They know how much drinking has cost them but still won’t stop because they are already addicted.

4. Withdrawal symptoms

Alcoholic signs

 

Does your partner often complain of headaches, nausea or anxiety after going a few days without drinking? That’s a telltale sign that you should never ignore.

5. They have a high tolerance for alcohol

After downing three beers, you already are feeling tipsy. But your partner is on their eighth and show no symptoms of being drunk.

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California Dreamin’ – Donna – 1982 to 1984 – This Worked Out For Everyone

I was hanging with my then girlfriend Kelly for the weekend up at my friend Tim’s place up in Topanga Canyon. He’s the one with the hot wife, Donna. (See: California Dreamin’ Tim’s Wife Donna)

 

We got up on Saturday morning and started partying early. The girls fixed up some food, blankets etc. while we iced down the beer and chilled by the pool.

It was great and secluded spot. The closest property was at least 300 yards away. About noon we got set up and in our suits and were all frolicking in the pool started partying heavy. The girls had on almost nothing for suits and looked sweet. (Kelly was a cute 20 year old blonde and we already know how Tim’s wife Donna is.) We kept saying they were almost naked and they may as well take them off and tan.

We kept on drinking and smoking and by 3:30 THE TOPS CAME OFF. We dared them if we all get naked for the rest of the day, we would do any dare they wanted the next day.

They agreed and we all stripped down. We were really getting ripped now and the girls were loving the freedom out here. They decided to walk towards the trees to take a leak. We were really proud of ourselves for getting them to loosen up.

When they got back they told us they wanted to make us do our dare tonight. We thought what the heck, let’s do it. They went over to the van and came back with some scarves. (from my mike stand) They told us we needed to lay on our backs on the blankets and allow them to tie our hands and blindfold us.

I tried to find out why, but was told its part of the dare and do it. Tim and I were now hand tied on our backs. I then felt a hand slowly running up and down my body and then a tongue. I asked what was up and was told it could be either one of them doing so but if we looked the 2 of them would both play with the other guy.

I can’t say in detail what went on for the next couple of hours.  It was so exciting not knowing who was doing what to me. After we were all exhausted we lay back still naked and enjoyed a few more beers and then headed back. I begged my girlfriend for 2 weeks to tell me if they swapped with us and she finally admitted they did.

I never told Tim or Donna that I knew.

 

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Rebecca – Chapter 2 – Dark Wings of Destiny – Part 2

I met Rebecca 3 years ago on a date. Rebecca has recently made an appearance in my life so I thought I’d re-run this series so everyone won’t have to go back and search for her series to catch up. Enjoy!

In the last episode our hero was preparing for his big date with Rebecca. Let’s see how it plays out.

Fall 2016

The Date

I jumped into an Uber out front of my house and went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The PMA is an amazing part of this city. I’ve been going there since I was a child. I remember going as a kid with my family. My father always exposed us to the arts. Dad introduced us to art, music, literature and everything else. I should probably do a blog about him at some point, but I’ll cover this stuff for now. I think I could see this blog metamorphosing into who I really am and that idea is unsettling. But somehow, I know that it will. It almost has to change. How long can I write about all of these lovely creatures that come in and out of my life? I know deep down I’ll run out of stories and the real me will come forward. I think that’s when this memoir will become what it truly needs to be.

Anyway, I had to say that because I see it, and I know it’s coming for me.

I arrive on time, and Santos was a good driver. He brings me to the back of the museum. It’s just easier. I’m not up for doing the Rocky run up the steps out front. It’s just too hot today. I think this is the last 90 degree day of the summer here in Philly. I think as a city we’re all tired of the heat. 2013 was a hot summer but people forget. 2013 was “The summer of Chaz” but that will be described in a future blog. (You can read it now. See: Annabelle)

 

One of the beautiful and most elegant things about the PMA is that it never changes. Sure, they have new installations coming in and out all of the time, but you can never change the core of the place. There are just certain pieces that are constant and they fill my heart with wonder, memory and love. The place is simply amazing. If you haven’t gone in a while, please go and feel the magic energy of these wonderful, brilliant artists that make the place what it is. When you walk through the halls of the PMA you can really feel that Homo Sapiens are good and make beautiful things, and all of the terrible things we’ve done as a species melt away after a few hours in there.

I walk in, and like I said it’s pay what you want Wednesdays which based on my last few dates will run me a total of $10.

The brilliance continues. Rebecca texts me and says she’s running 15 minutes late which is actually perfect. Normally as you know, I hate that. But she’s new and young, so I’m forgiving. I hit the first floor back balcony and get a glass of wine and wait. I look over the balcony and across the room downstairs. There is a bevy of young women all sitting together on the seats on the other side of the room. Chatting, giggling and looking at their phones.

I’m sipping my Barefoot Chardonnay (basically urine) that cost $9.00, and I get a text. Rebecca has also arrived through the back door of the museum. I tell her I’m upstairs waiting. I see her appear at the top of the stairs, and she fiddles with her phone. I’m going to go ahead right here and tell you she’s 35 years younger than me. I know. But I met her on Tinder and this is Phicklephilly, and she likes art and is a nurse. Maybe she’s okay. Maybe it’ll be different this time. Maybe I keep doing the same thing over and over with my fatal charm hoping for a different result. But that is madness. Am I mad? She’ll be okay. She won’t be crazy or immature, or 9 months into our relationship tell me that she wants to get married and have kids and I’m too old, and don’t ever want that again. (See: Annabelle) I am what I am, and I guess I’ve followed through with this for a reason. Maybe it’ll all be okay.

Fear grips me.

I’m doing the same thing, over and over again.

Well, she’s more than okay. She is exquisite. I’ve said this before, but I literally sucked my breath in when she appeared. Out of all of the photos I’ve posted here to illustrate what these women look like, the one here is really close to what this delightful girl looks like. I kid you not, dear readers. How is this happening again? What am I doing here? How many times have I said this to myself?

She’s 5’2″ and petite. Her hair is dark brown. Her eyes are green. Her skin is a light caramel. Her lips are like ripe cherries. She’s wearing a red and white cotton top, nothing fancy, with a pair of cutoff jean shorts. Her legs are supple tan pillars of lean muscle and sinew. She’s wearing white keds. It doesn’t matter… she’s perfect.

My God. She’s beautiful. Is she going to look upon me and run? Will she apologize and say there’s been some sort of cosmic mistake? Will I hand her $300 to “help with school?” Will security come and just throw me off the balcony to finally finish me off on the cold marble floor below me so that I know that this is a dream?

None of that happened.

I could see she was texting me so I texted her ” I’m here on the balcony. Come hither.”  She looks at her phone and then glances about the room. She sees me and smiles. Kill me now. She bounds toward me and I stand. She goes up on her tip toes and hugs me tightly. “I’ve really been looking forward to meeting you!” she exclaims. I can smell her hair. Soft fleece brushes against my face like ribbons of chocolate. The fragrance is soft cocoa. In that moment in her arms, it’s as if she has just revealed a secret to me. She clutches me tightly and then slips away.

She looks me straight in the eyes, and says: “Let’s go share some art!” I swallow the last mouthful of my shitty wine and toss the cup in the trash. I’m locked and loaded. (not really loaded) She asked if I had a map, and I told her that I did. She said “Keep it if you want but I’d rather you toss it in the trash and we just wander together.”

Am I dreaming? Is she going to invoice me for $300 to hang with this lovely doll? But none of that happened either. We simply went downstairs and wandered through the halls. The great thing was that we both had pieces of art we loved and stories behind them. I forgot how connected I was to the PMA. Not as a resident of the city but in my heart.

We came upon a painting called the Moorish Priest. (Google it.) It’s beautiful and powerful. She stopped and I told her that it was my late Mother’s favorite painting in the whole museum. She loved it so much that my father bought her a framed print of it and it hung in our shore house at the top of the stairs for 30 years. She seemed moved by its beauty and the story. I asked her what her thoughts were and she said; “As a nurse I can see he has a good vein in his hand and in his forearm and I could get an IV in that no problem.” Well, she is an emergency room nurse and that’s a legit answer from someone who is always looking for a vein to save a life. The family connection and the irony struck me as funny and nostalgic.

We wandered around for a while rediscovering so many works we both loved. We agreed on so many, for all of the same reasons! We were on the second floor and there’s a huge window that looks down the Ben Franklin Parkway right to City Hall. I told her I remember coming to this very spot as a child and taking a photo of the city through this window with my little plastic Kodak Instamatic camera that I had won in a contest at a shoe store.

We looked out at our city. The skyline. It was dusk. The last time I was here was years ago with a group of co-workers on a Friday night during a lightning storm. It was Art After Five on a Friday and we were all plowed on cheap poorly made cocktails. (See: Michelle)

Rebecca was right next to me. I could feel the energy. I felt really close to her. “The city is so beautiful” she said.

She turned to me.

“You are” I replied.

 

 

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I’m a bartender who’s witnessed countless first dates — here are all the things you’re doing wrong

  • As a bartender, I’ve witnessed countless first dates play out in front of me.
  • I’ve come to learn several mistakes people make on their first dates, like getting too drunk, underdressing, or not having enough money to cover the bill.
  • Here are the biggest mistakes I see people make on first dates at bars.

Something a world-famous bartender recently said on bars and dating culture stuck with me.

Jim Meehan, the author of “Meehan’s Bartender Manual,” said that in the early years of his career, bars weren’t where people went on dates, but where they went to find dates.

Nowadays, online dating has changed the game. And as a bartender in the age of dating apps, I’m grateful that I’m spared the horror of seeing real-life Tinder swiping in front of my eyes.

But one painful ritual I’m frequently audience to is the cringeworthy first date. I’ve witnessed countless first dates play out from behind the bar, and I’ve gotten a sense of what works and what doesn’t from both parties.

These are the worst and most frequent mistakes I see people making, and what they could be doing better.

Know the kind of bar you’re going to.

Know the kind of bar you're going to.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Because of apps, most of us go in relatively blind to first dates — we haven’t met our match in real life.

But that doesn’t mean you should go in blind to the bar too. You don’t have to be the person who didn’t make a reservation, or is overdressed or underdressed, or isn’t ready for the sticker shock of the menu. I’ve seen all of the above, and other than being small-talk fodder for the date, it’s not a good look.

Scout a place on a day before the date. Make sure you know things like the likelihood of a wait, or if the atmosphere is entirely too romantic, or too loud to hold a conversation.

But be cautious of overfamiliarity.

But be cautious of overfamiliarity.Reuters/Bernadett Szabo

It’s also funny to me when people take different dates, week after week, to my same bar.

We bartenders won’t do it on purpose, but you are running the risk of having us inadvertently reveal your penchant for dating around, which also might not be a good look.

“Hey there. Same as last week? Old-fashioned for you and a Bee’s Knees for the lady?”

In my effort to flex my ability to remember your face and drink order, it’s not uncommon to accidentally reveal you were here last week with someone else — someone who in this case apparently likes to drink a Bee’s Knees.

Check your card balance beforehand.

Check your card balance beforehand.Shutterstock/svershinsky

Always check your card balance before you go out to make sure you have enough to cover your bill. Or if you’re out of town, make sure your bank won’t lock out your card for security reasons.

I always try to be discreet if I can tell someone is on a date when their card is declined, but if you don’t have cash or another viable card, that date you intended to treat may end up footing the bill. Awkward.

For goodness sake, tip 20%.

Always tip your bartender 20%. No matter how the service was. Every time. Whether you’re on a date or not. But especially on a first date.

Because even if waiting tables or making drinks isn’t your date’s current profession, you never know whether they were a former service-industry worker and will be sensitive to the issue.

I can almost guarantee they’re going to check to see how much you tipped. And a good tip will show them you acknowledge the hard work that goes into a service-industry job, which usually comes with a base rate below the minimum wage.

A tip higher than 20% would be, ahem, uber-classy and demonstrate generosity.

And if you know that your date has worked as a bartender and still don’t intend to tip 20%, just stay home.

Side note: If a customer gives me their phone number while I’m bartending but tips less than 20%, I’m immediately throwing it away.

Don’t get wasted.

Don't get wasted.Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Garden & Gun

This one probably speaks for itself.

I remember a gentleman once showing up early at the bar for his date. He pounded two double vodka sodas by himself. He pounded another double vodka soda when his date left, after an awkward hour of squinting, swaying, and not saying too much.

It’s also pretty awkward to get cut off by the bartender on a date with someone new, as happened to me just a few weeks ago. After balking and accusing me of simply not wanting to serve him, the young man — yes, it’s usually the men over-imbibing — left a one-star Yelp review about it.

I imagine that being cut off in front of your date is less embarrassing than falling down the stairs at a three-story bar, so I maintain that I was helping him in the long run.

When it comes to conversational faux pas, oversharing is a big one.

When it comes to conversational faux pas, oversharing is a big one.Chris Hondros/Getty

I’ve seen more than one dater’s eyes glaze over as their date regurgitates a spectrum of emotions on topics relating to their exes, drug use, daddy and mommy issues — the list goes on.

It’s one thing to have a back-and-forth where you’ve connected on deeper, emotional topics on a first date, but when it’s a monologue, it’s like watching a therapy session — a really awkward therapy session.

Daters often have go-to topics, like travel and television, but miss cues that their date doesn’t care.

Daters often have go-to topics, like travel and television, but miss cues that their date doesn't care.NBC

Even traditionally “safe” topics, like travel, can go awry when daters use it as a conversational crutch.

From polling other bartenders, I can say the television show most heavily abused as a first-date conversation topic that goes absolutely nowhere is “The Office.”

So if your conversation is going this way: “Have you seen ‘The Office’? No? Well, there’s this scene where …” Stop at the word “no.” Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

A lot of conversational topics are fine with a good mix of questions. But some daters I see are like trial lawyers: They cross-examine their date.

A lot of conversational topics are fine with a good mix of questions. But some daters I see are like trial lawyers: They cross-examine their date.Getty Images

I’ve seen a lot of dates become deeply uncomfortable because they start to resemble a job interview.

Often, the questions are too probing and invasive.

If you’re trying to figure out your date’s marriage goals, bank account, and family disease history on the first date, you probably won’t get a second.

Don’t bring up your conspiracy theories on a first date.

Just don’t.

Or maybe do. They’re loads of fun for me to hear.

The best so far was a guy on a first date revealing he believed that “the moon is a man-made construct” — a serious level-up from the “we faked the moon landing” theory. Not as good as the “moon is made of cheese” hypothesis though.

Don’t misrepresent your physical appearance.

Don't misrepresent your physical appearance.Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

I remember one incident where a guy was so freaked out by something that as soon as his date went to the bathroom, he had to tell the bartender I was working with: He thought his date looked great, but her dating-profile pictures must have been at least 15 years old.

People may be judgmental jerks about your appearance. But some won’t be. Misrepresenting yourself, on the other hand, perturbs everyone.

Don’t mansplain things to the bartender to try to be impressive.

Don't mansplain things to the bartender to try to be impressive.REUTERS/Marko Djurica

I think it’s a good thing when a couple on a date can make good conversation with the bartender. People reasonably make character judgments about others based on how they treat those serving them. Warm conversation can go far.

But men in particular are enormous offenders of bad bar chatter with the bartender on dates.

Sharing an enthusiasm for spirits, asking questions, and even sharing some information is fine. Giving condescending sermons on things I already know, like the difference between bourbon and rye, do not impress me and do not impress your date.

Likewise, don’t order an overly complicated drink to flex on your date.

Likewise, don't order an overly complicated drink to flex on your date.Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The look I will give you while I make your Ramos Gin Fizz — an eight-ingredient cocktail that requires so much shaking that some bars just use a blender instead — will indicate to your date that you are a bona fide jerk.

Especially if I can tell you ordered one in an attempt to seem impressive.

Don’t act accosted by small grievances.

Don't act accosted by small grievances.Getty Images

Any time I’ve been serving or bartending and a dater bickered over trivial bill errors (that often weren’t actually errors), I usually notice a curled-lip response from their date.

You don’t look assertive. You look cheap and petty.

Likewise, don’t send back a drink when it’s not exactly to your liking. Suck it up.

And men especially, don’t act so affronted by a “girly” drink.

And men especially, don't act so affronted by a AP/Chris Pizzello/Invision

Don’t insist that I pour a cocktail meant for a stemmed coupe into a rocks glass in front of your date.

Plus, as I have in the past, I will make the next drink three times as effeminate just to make you reveal your fragile masculinity all over again.

Finally, if you insist on doing any of the above, don’t sit in front of me.

Finally, if you insist on doing any of the above, don't sit in front of me.Sarah Jacobs

Please, spare your bartender. We aren’t like servers. We’re stuck in front of our well.

And you always seem to insist on sitting right in front of us.

Sure, witnessing the schadenfreude can be entertainment. But it’s mostly just cringeworthy.

 

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Bailey – Chapter 2 – Twas the Night Before Christmas…

I confirm with Bailey that we are still on for 3:30. I think it’s cool to be meeting a girl for the first time on Christmas Eve. Just something romantic about that.

I close up the salon around 3pm that Sunday. I figure I’ll head over to Dan Dan early. It’s a cute Asian bar/restaurant around the corner from the salon. I walk over and figure I’ll get there early for a pre-game glass of wine to take the edge off. I’m looking forward to meeting Bailey. I go in. She’s already at the bar. Wow, a girl that’s early. I like that.

I greet her and she looks cute. We shake hands and decide to move to a quiet corner of the bar near the wall. It’s cold out and I don’t want her to be chilled every time someone comes through the door.

There is some woman working the bar not my buddy. I ask where he is, and she says he doesn’t work Sundays. I order a chardonnay and she the Pinot Grigio. We start chatting. I review some points on her profile that I really liked. The banter is going well. I notice on several instances that she is touching me. That’s a good sign. If a woman touches you, she definitely likes you.

This is good.

We order a bowl of their famous noodles. It’s big enough to split. She forgoes the chopsticks for a fork. I think our date is going well. I love meeting a new girl on Christmas Eve!

We exchange stories and she’s loving the noodles. Surprisingly my buddy Nate shows up and he’s here to work. I’ve known him for years and I always usually follow him to wherever he’s tending bar. He comes over and greets me by name. This always makes me look good to whomever I’m with. It’s good to know people in the hospitality industry.  When you go to wherever you know people you get the hook up. Men define themselves normally by what they do. Women on the other hand define themselves by who they know. I know so many people around the city, it wields power when you’re out on a date. It makes her feel she’s with a man of substance and importance in his surroundings.

I eat come of the noodles but Bailey pretty much polishes them off. She must have really loved them! She also appears to want something else. I hand her the menu and she goes with the shrimp pot stickers. I normally go with the pork but let the lady have what she wants.

She orders another glass of wine and I do the same. The pot stickers come out and Bailey rips into them. I’m good with what I’ve had and doing just fine with my wine.

We’ve been here for about two hours. It’s a solid first date. I tell her I’m ready to wrap it up and she has to go pick up some gift cards and visit her grandmother. I think that’s sweet and she calls for an UBER.

I pay the bill. It’s not bad. it’s the holidays and I asked her to come here. She doesn’t live in the city so she did all the traveling and I want to pay. Maybe Bailey can be my new affair.

I settle up and we go outside. I thank her for a lovely evening. I want to see her again. We agree to meet up again and go on another date. I have an idea and I tell her I’ll be texting her. The car arrives, we hug and she’s off.

I later get a text from her thanking me for the evening and that she is home safe.

So maybe I’ve got a new fun girl to hang with but only time will tell.

 

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What Happens to Your Body When You Give Up Alcohol

Here’s how a substantial phase of sobriety could affect your immune system, sleep, and even your skin.

“Giving up drinking doesn’t make you live longer. It just makes it feel that way.” That’s one of my dad’s favorite quips should his consumption be brought into question. The truth is that however much you enjoy the taste of alcohol or the way it makes you feel, in almost all respects, it does bad things to your body and brain. I experienced firsthand the upgrades that can happen when you stop drinking for a while when I got in shape last spring. Granted, giving up booze was just one of the behavioral changes I made, but I couldn’t help thinking it was particularly significant one. Here’s what science has to say about that and other things that would likely happen to your body when you give up alcohol.

Your immune system will be more effective

Drinking too often and too much is closely associated with several immune-related health effects. What’s “too often” and “too much,” you slur? Well according to the National Institutes of Health, it’s more than four drinks on any day or 14 per week for men; and more than three drinks on any day or seven per week for women—figures that manage to be either sexist or bad math or possibly both.

On average, drinkers have a higher susceptibility to pneumonia and other respiratory disorders, a higher likelihood of getting complications and poor wound healing after surgery, a higher instance of sepsis and certain cancers to name a few. “[Giving up alcohol]…will strengthen your immune system and make it easier for your body to fight off infection,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietician with the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Kirkpatrick cites a 2015 study that showed that alcohol overexerts immune pathways, which in turn decreases the body’s ability to defend against a number of adverse invaders.

And you don’t get off lightly if you only go big every now and then. A study published in the journal Alcohol found that a single episode of binge alcohol intoxication leads to overexertion on the immune system and inflammation. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. (Typically this happens when men consume five or more drinks or women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.) The good news is, if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, your immune system’s response will buck itself up after you give up the sauce. “What’s not clear is how long it takes the body to strengthen after alcohol is taken out and what frequency of drinking relates to this decrease in immunity,” Kirkpatrick tells me.

You’ll eat less, or at least with more intention

According to a study in the journal Obesity, the drunk munchies may be due to alcohol heightening the senses. Researchers found that when people received an intravenous alcohol infusion equal to about two drinks, they ate 30 percent more food than those who received a saline solution. Their conclusion? Even mild intoxication can increase your brain activity in the hypothalamus, making you more sensitive to the smell of food and prompting you to eat more. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that alcohol is often linked people overeating and having a poor diet.

You’ll sleep better

I go to a party, I have a few drinks, and before long I’m out of gas and ready for bed. I get home, zonk out immediately only to find that I’m wide awake at 5 AM and unable to get back to sleep. Sound familiar? “Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it slows down the body and naturally makes you sleepy,” Kirkpatrick explains, adding that booze is also associated with disrupted sleep because the body is working overtime to metabolize it. A few drinks will usually help you fall asleep quick but once you’ve metabolized it all, you’ll likely wake up or have a poorer quality of sleep.

A review of 27 studies backs up Kirkpatrick’s analysis that while booze may help people fall asleep more quickly and deeply at first, it’s not a prescription for restful and recuperative shuteye. When people drink, their sleep gets fragmented, which means they wake up more often in their sleep rather than sleeping through the night, says Amarjot Surdhar, an addiction psychiatrist at Northwell Health. “People feel generalized fatigue and malaise the following day after heavy drinking,” he tells me, adding that a suppression, delay, and reduction of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is another way that you’re doing your brain a disservice. The REM sleep cycle is believed to stimulate the central nervous system, restore brain chemistry to a normal balance, and help us form new memories. If your REM sleep gets messed with, you’ll likely feel like crap the next day.

You’ll decrease your risk of getting certain types of cancer

In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. In particular, alcohol appears to increase the risk of head and neck cancers, esophageal cancers, liver cancers, breast cancer, and colorectal cancers. There’s also mounting evidence that booze is associated with increased risks of melanoma and of prostate and pancreatic cancers. Conversely, putting a plug in the jug can decrease those risks.

Quitting booze could impact fertility in women

While pretty much everyone’s on board with the idea that getting wasted when your baby is gestating inside you is like, not cool, alcohol’s effect on fertility is less talked about. In one Danish study, the alcohol consumption of healthy women who were trying to conceive was monitored. Booze was measured in standard servings: 1-3, 4-7, 8-13, and 14 or more units per week. Women in the highest alcohol consumption group (14 units or more per week) had 37 pregnancies in 307 cycles, and those who did not drink had 1,381 pregnancies in 8,054 cycles. These figures equate to an 18 percent decrease in the probability that the women who drank more would conceive.

The study’s authors note that the consumption of fewer than 14 servings of alcohol per week seemed to have “no discernible effect on fertility.”

And decrease the likelihood of damaged or malformed sperm in men

A 2017 study found that while alcohol didn’t alter sperm density, it did increase the production of sperm with particularly large heads containing potentially damaged DNA. Authors of that study recommended that “men who plan to father children stop drinking alcohol at least three months before engaging in sexual intercourse that may lead to pregnancy.”

That rec might seem a little drastic since research has shown that it’s heavy alcohol consumption that can significantly affect sperm quality, says Michael Reitano, New York City-based urologist and physician-in-residence at men’s health startup Roman. Small quantities of alcohol can indeed have some effect on the shape of sperm but many large studies have determined that moderate alcohol consumption does not affect fertility, he tells me.

Your skin will likely look better

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee out more liquid than if you drank water. Pissing in double time prevents your body from extracting water from urine in the kidneys. The result? Dry skin that can appear lusterless or ashy. “A moderate drinker will most likely not see a detrimental impact on their skin from having a drink once in a while,” Kirkpatrick says, but cautions that that excessive drinking is can lead to the desertification of your face. What’s more, booze also decreases the body’s production of an antidiuretic hormone called vasopressin, which helps the body reabsorb water. Cut the drinking out or down and you’ll improve your skin’s appearance in short order, she says.

 

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