Can I get a consensus? Is it okay to accept a drink at a bar, no strings attached?

Can I get a consensus? Is it okay to accept a drink at a bar, no strings attached?
Carly Jacobs

Woman at bar


Last weekend I found myself all frocked up for a friends birthday extravaganza – heels, lipstick – the whole shebang. We spent obscene amounts of money on sunset coloured cocktails and air-kissed our way through out the bar. Later in the evening, after my disappointingly sober man had politely excused himself and escaped into the loving arms of his Macbook, I found myself deep in conversation with a dapper young professional. He noticed my glass was empty and offered to get me a drink. I immediately declined and started making excuses but he stopped me in my tracks and said ‘It’s cool. I know you have a boyfriend, let me buy you a drink…’. How charming.

Despite the fact that this little interlude was completely innocent and that the young professional in question was genuinely being a gentleman, I think this scenario begs a pretty interesting question.

Is it okay to accept a drink from a person that you have no interest in?

I’m not suggesting an obligatory BJ for any guy that throws a vodka red bull at you, but on a basic level the offer of a drink represents a certain level of interest and the acceptance of the drink represents a reciprocation of that interest right?

What do you think? Is it okay to accept drinks if you’re off the market? Should this fact be stated before you accept the drink? Is it just a free for all when drinks are concerned regardless of your marital status? What about my man readers? How do you feel about buying drinks for taken women? Or women buying drinks for taken men?

And please let me know what country you are from. I know Americans are a lot more relaxed about dating than Australians and I’m curious to see what my international readers have to say about this.

Love Lady Smaggle


  1. kathryn 9 years ago

    I think it’s totally okay. I mean if I was chatting to someone and having a good time (as in great convo, no sexual interest), I’d offer to buy them a drink. I think buying someone a drink is like saying “I’m interested in continuing this conversation” not a prelude to sex.

    Flirting to get free drinks if you are taken or not interested is just poor form though.

    I’m from Australia.

  2. Raquel 9 years ago

    I think it’s okay. I once accepted a drink from a guy who was attached – he was just being friendly. We were having a great platonic conversation while his friend and my friend spent the entire night attached at the lips.

    I’m a kiwi =)

  3. E 9 years ago

    It’s a drink – would it feel different if it was coffee, or a lift home?
    I know context is everything – it’s polite to ask someone if you’re refreshing your own, or if you notice your companions empty glass or cup – quite the other to pour away or assume. I think most of us can tell the difference between polite, friendly and ulterior motive. I don’t like the idea of being ‘taken’ meaning a monopoly or some kind of ownership – I suppose it also depends on trust/levels of jealousy/suspicion. But y’know – if your sig other thinks you can be ‘bought’ this way – are things a bit dodgy anyway? I thought the days of a freebie (drinkies or meal) for the lady meaning payback at the end of the evening were left behind in the ’50s?

    UK view.

  4. Nadist 9 years ago

    I think it is perfectly fine. The whole ‘owing’ someone for buying you a drink is kind of creepy . .

    From NZ.

  5. meaghan 9 years ago

    I think it depends on the maturity level of the man, lol! 😛
    Some guys can be total jerks and expect something sexual in return for a brought drink but other guys will do it just to be polite and friendly with no strings attachted.
    Its the same for me, if I was in a social set where I was with guy and it was purely platonic and I brought him a drink, I wouldnt expect anything from him in return. It would just be a friendly gesture.
    The same as I do for my chick friends 😉

  6. Kate 9 years ago

    oooh this can be tricky!
    a friend and I were out for a girls’ night, dancing up a storm at some cheesy bar, when a couple of guys tried to chat us up. we were polite but tried not to give the wrong impression, as we weren’t interested but didn’t want to be rude. they offered repeatedly to buy us drinks, but we said no. sadly they wouldn’t let up, and insisted “we’re just being friendly.” we gave in to shut them up, but then were stuck feeling that the boys now wanted something in return.
    total catch 22, you say no, you’re uptight, a snob, etc. you say yes, then you ‘owe’ them or you’re just a cocktease.
    (I’m from NZ)

  7. Michael 9 years ago

    ‘Disappointingly’?? Leaving a party to go and work? Your man sounds like the kind of person I’d go into business with.

  8. niki 9 years ago

    I had a similar experience recently. I was having drinks with my (single) girlfriend and my partner couldn’t come along. My girlfriend wanted to chat to a bloke who was in an area of the pub that was sectioned off for a 30th. She warned me that it was a sausage-fest in there but I shrugged and said I’d tell any keen-beans I had a boyfriend.

    Not a second after sitting down a nice fellow sat opposite me and introduced himself. He kept steering the conversation back to me and how interesting I was, and then he offered to buy me a drink. Same as you, I refused about three times. He pointed to my empty glass and if I’d said ‘no’ a fourth time my brain would have exploded from the repetition.

    When he returned with my drink he had a girl on his arm – “Niki, meet my girlfriend Alicia.” I felt like such a dick – he was just being friendly.

    I guess context is important, if it’s a nightclub it mightn’t always be so innocent..? Also I think if you refuse at first but they insist, you’ve already put the message across that you’re taken, seeing as you said no off the bat. Maybe guys who persist are trying to say “It’s ok, I’m just being nice!”

    I’d like to hear some male perspectives on the matter!

    (sydney, aus)

  9. Andrea 9 years ago

    I agree with the responses so far. I think it’s okay to accept a drink so long as you’re not getting a weird vibe from the person. It’s usually pretty easy to read someone’s signals and find out whether they’re being sleazy or genuinely friendly.

  10. Rex 9 years ago

    A vodka redbull? I’d expect a BJ at the very least ….

  11. Jay 9 years ago

    Context. If I knew a guy was offering to buy me a drink out of interest/hope of it leading to an invite or sexual favours (!) and I wasn’t interested, I’d decline. If it’s a situation where I know we’re just two people having a great conversation*, I’d happily accept – and I’d buy the next round.

    *I have called that incorrectly in the past though, and when I got up to rejoin my friends, the guy ended up snatching my wrist and getting quite aggressive with me – I ended up having to make wild eyes at one of my guy friends so he’d come and get me out of the situation.

  12. Chances of a British guy ever buying you a drink are slim to none 😉

  13. Leah Felicity 9 years ago

    I have a shiny rock on my hand, so hopefully guys are glancing at it before trying anything. I’d just make it clear (probably by gesturing to my ring finger) that I’m taken, and see if he still wants to buy me a drink. I’ve taken drinks from people who were interested in buying me then, but ONLY after making it clear that it wasn’t going to go anywhere.

    I’m from the United States.

  14. Leah Felicity 9 years ago

    As an addendum to my previous note, often guys will, ironically, be MORE insistent to buy you a drink after you demonstrate you’re taken. I think then they’re trying to make it clear that they’re not jerks, that they weren’t after anything, that they’re decent guys, etc.

  15. monik 9 years ago

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with accepting a drink if you lay your cards on the table. Yeah, sometimes they;ll say it’s cool secretly hoping in the end you’ll give in, but most of the time it’s just friendly.
    I’m mexican, and drinks here are pretty much ice-breakers. Not that I’m calling us alcoholics, but the buying of the drinks doesn’t mean much at all, we just go for it and enjoy. It’s all in the rest of it: the attitude, the body language, the demeanor. I’ll be honest, this is a conservative, sexist, retrograde country (I love my country but it’s true), but somehow a drink is just a drink, and I believe that to be true anywhere; as long as you don’t lead anyone on or start messing around, accepting a drink is totally cool.

  16. Tara 9 years ago

    I’m American…. and I think it is just fine BUT I do think it is a good idea for any attached parties to make it clear that they ARE attached. This doesn’t have to mean a 5 page bulletin, maybe just a casual mention… “Yes, my boyfriend dragged to that movie, and I was surprised to like it so well!” Generally, I think the drink purchase situation is just good manners (on either side), especially if you OR the man is going for another round anyway.

  17. AshleyGee 9 years ago

    I really think it depends. I don’t ever accept drinks from people, unless I know them well. What can I say, my mother made me quite paranoid.

    A lot of my girlfriends have no problem accepting drinks from men (and women, too, I guess), and most of them make no effort to signal that they are married or taken (they don’t take off their rings, but they don’t make any kind of disclaimer to the person buying).

    I have a guy friend who says he honestly doesn’t expect anything from the women for whom he buys drinks, but I have a hard time believing this, for some reason. Why buy the drink if you have no interest to begin with?

  18. WendyB 9 years ago

    Hell, I’ll take a free drink!

  19. Emily 9 years ago

    I agree with most of the above comments, accepting a drink is fine if you make your status clear at the beginning. And I agree that if you’re attached saying “no” straight away will tell them that.
    But what about the scary thought of reading somebody wrongly? What if you believe it is a nice, platonic, friendly conversation; when really that could be the cover for the creep they really are? Maybe I’m just way too paranoid, but in some of the bars I go to (most of the time with my boyfriend anyway) I probably wouldn’t accept a drink from a guy unless I was right next to him watching the drink being made and purchased if you get my drift…
    I just think you can’t know how someone really operates from one conversation, no matter how innocent they seem.

    Melbourne, Aus.

  20. E 9 years ago

    There seems to be a consensus re: worrying you’ll (as a woman) ‘read’ someone wrong. Don’t you think men worry as much from the other side of the glass? Are all men to be thought of as creepy woman-chasers after one thing? And if someone is – would a declaration of being spoken for matter a jot?

    I can understand that we’ve all been sensitized to date-rape drugs in drinks but, in the same way as the fear put about that women shouldn’t cannot go out alone after dark safely – are we all supposed to treat men as predators – when statistically you’re more at risk from a family member, friend or – the person you’re staunchly ‘taken’ with in terms of violence/rape?

    Go back to Lady S’s kiss consensus thread and try and square the circle with this one. Is this why we are reluctant to accept a drink?

    I’m prolly over-thinking this as a control thing that culture makes it easy for women and men to collude with – feel free to ignore 🙂

  21. The Mumma 9 years ago

    Yes! A friend and I had several drinks bought for us by two reasonably attractive men at a function. After a lovely long conversation they thanked us, we thanked them and everyone moved on. The drink-buying wasn’t the opener, by the way. If it was, we’d probably have declined. But they’d already been chatting to us for a little while when drinks were offered.

  22. I think it’s all so situational! I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with accepting or buying a drink for somebody that isn’t your beloved (for example, I’ve had lots of male friends/ex co-workers do this for me before and vice versa, and it was all fine and dandy) – I think it only becomes problematic when there are people who actually go out there LOOKING for people to buy them drinks, and will flirt with them all night in the name of receiving free vodka, having no actual interest in the poor person who’s shelling out for their beverages. Seriously. I have known people who will actually go out for the night with no money in their wallets, knowing that they can find someone who will end up paying for everything for them. Cr-azy.

  23. swampthings 8 years ago

    What you do is say, “Well, I’m taken, but I’ll certainly accept a drink for my girlfriend and me.”

    The guy will be to proud to not continue to buy the drink, plus you’ll score two drinks out of it.

    If he really cared, he would have talked to you long enough to find out whether or not you were available before he offered you a drink.

    Great post, great blog!

  24. George 3 years ago

    If you are taken, in a loving relationship, be it marriage or boy/girlfriend you should politely decline.acceptance of said drink indicates interest. My wife was waiting for me one night, a gentleman bought a drink for her and as the waiter dropped it off for her and pointed to the man who sent it, she rose up, picked up,the drink and walked it over to his table. She placed it down said thank you but I’m waiting on my husband. And politely turned and went about her business. This way he knew she was a confidant and spoken for woman.


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