Sober Dating: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Sober dating is a new, exciting, and often times scary thing for most of us. As recovering addicts and alcoholics, we were used to drinking and drugging our way through all aspects of our lives, including going out of dates. Being sober and dating is like exploring new territory with a whole new set of eyes.
Dating in the Rooms
You may have heard this one before: “Odds are good that you’ll meet somebody, but the goods are odd.” Many people, especially in early recovery make the mistake of falling in love in early sobriety. And really, it’s not true love. It’s just another distraction to keep us from focusing on ourselves. Also, when newly sober, our feelings are raw and we are way more vulnerable than ever. Any attraction we feel towards another person becomes this whirl-wind romance suddenly. Oh yeah, we are also prone to drama.
There’s a good reason to avoid dating in early recovery. This sort of thing will certainly keep us from doing the work necessary to set ourselves up for success in sobriety. And if and when the break-up occurs, this could be ripe for a relapse. I made the mistake of dating someone early in recovery; we had about the same amount of clean time, which wasn’t much. So it wasn’t a 13 step type situation. I found out that he had relapsed and was using and cheating with his ex behind my back. Luckily, I was very strong in my program and didn’t let that sort of thing affect my sobriety but, I could see how it could lead to unhealthy decisions.
Dating Non-Sober People
“So you don’t drink at all?” Hmmm, how to answer this one…especially if there is some judgment in their tone. People who are not in recovery often don’t really understand what it means to be sober. They often follow up this question with, “you mean, not even beer?” or “not even wine?”
The right moment to tell a date that you don’t drink is tough to pinpoint, I’ve discovered. Right after the waiter asks for your order isn’t a bad option. Or even when your date is looking over the wine list and asking if you’d prefer red or white.
When it comes to online dating, the drinking issue is typically dealt with up front. Profiles let you list whether or not—and how often—you drink, smoke, and do drugs. For me, this means passing by the men who check “regularly” under drinking or drugs.
Don’t get me wrong—many sober people have no problem dating drinkers…to a point. For me, alcohol isn’t a turn on. I can’t stand the taste or even the smell of it. I don’t mind if my date has a beer or two at dinner but it does bother me when I have to smell it on him later when he kisses me goodnight.
Dating While Sober can be a hassle, annoyance, or even a burden. But for most sober people, it’s worth it—mainly because we got sober in order to live as full lives as possible, a goal that includes finding the right mate to share our sober days with.
If you’re doing the internal work that staying sober and being happy demands—regularly examining your defects and working to improve them, dealing with your resentments by considering the part you play in them—you not only become a much better catch, but you also get comfortable enough to feel like you don’t need, or even want, to drink on a date.
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