Some of the most common questions I get asked are around dating sober.
Is it scary? Will you only date sober people? Do you get nervous? What do you do on your dates?
My answers are yes, yes, yes and literally anything that doesn’t involve booze.
Dating other sober people is a choice I made because it was right for me, I know loads of people that are in recovery and are either happily married or in great relationships with partners that drink. As long as you keep yourself and your sobriety safe, spend time with people who make you happy! Whatever their life choices may be.
Drink for me gave me confidence, it allowed me to talk to people and be the person I wanted to be (so I thought – actually I was a grotesque, repetitive mess most of the time). So take away that shield, that, support and I just have myself, with nothing to hide behind. This is difficult enough to adjust to in day to day life but add in dating and meeting new potential partners and it is positively petrifying. But after a few months of me time following a crappy break up, I decided to give dating another whirl.
Internet dating is a bit odd really when you think about it. Everyone has various stages of qualification;
- Match, we are physically attracted to each other (well to whatever photos we have decided to upload – let’s hope they aren’t too far from the truth), yay!
- Flirting on your app of choice, inane conversation with a total stranger that has the power to have you checking your phone every 10 mins.
- Promoted to the number exchange! More inane flirting but this time you have the added bonus of seeing when the person has read the message and not replied for 7 whole minutes (blue ticks are a sure fire way to make you insane)
- If you are really brave you answer a call or even MAKE a call to hear the other persons voice, then judge them totally on what they say, the pitch, speed and tone in which they say it within the 5 mins.
- You arrange to meet up – if the chosen specimen passed stage 4. You need to choose a venue that’s suitable for a 10 min drink of choice (in case you can’t stand the sight of each other) but also does food (in case you have a compelling need to feed one another from opposite forks on the first date).
If that wasn’t stressful enough the ‘inbetween’ stage of 5-6 is excruciating, will they call wont they call? Do they like me do they not? What do they think about me? Do they think about me? It might just be me that has this dialogue running over and over in their head after a first date, whether I like the person or not is totally irrelevant at this stage – I just need to know if they like me…
Sprinkle sobriety into this mix of heightened emotions and its safe to say that dating can be pretty anxiety inducing. But you know what? My experience of sober dating hasn’t been half bad.
I’ve met a handful of people, some really lovely guys. I’ve been to crazy golf, dinners, spas, walks, coffees – none of the men I’ve met up with drink alcohol– I put on my profile I want non-drinkers and filter that way. There’s so much more you can do on dates other than go for a ‘quick’ drink.
The only slightly negative experience I have had is meeting up with one guy for a walk for a couple of hours, we got on well, we had a lot in common and he was attractive. Over a coffee break he asked me if I would ever drink again. My answer was obviously no, but I have to take it one day at a time, that’s what keeps me sober – keeping it in the day. He seemed satisfied with that answer until a few hours later when he asked me over for dinner and I declined as I was going to a 12 step meeting. It’s then that he decided to tell me he was worried I would go back to drinking and he couldn’t risk that because he has 2 children and couldn’t compromise their safety. Bit much to question someones sobriety and suggest that they were a child catcher after meeting them for 2 hours if you ask me. We didn’t meet up a 2nd time…
But out of the 5 people I’ve been on dates with in the last few months 2 have resulted in a relationship (with me). One obviously didn’t work out (2 relationships on the go would be way too much hard work, plus, you know, immoral). But it was nice whilst it lasted, we just weren’t compatible, and it ended amicably – like grown-ups. The other relationship I am still in, and it’s going really really well – and moving pretty quick. The next blog post will be all about that for anyone that’s interested!
I know it can be scary dating without a drink, but once you start I can promise, you will have fun. Probably come out of it with a few stories to tell too, and hopefully a real, honest and true relationship.
Here’s a few tips to help you along if you are considering taking the Tinder plunge;
- Have those dreaded phone chats before committing to a meet up – it’s like putting in a screening interview before meeting a candidate face to face, you’ll know from this chat whether its worth topping up your Oyster card to meet up in person.
- Use dating sites that let you filter drinkers from non-drinkers (Bumble and Hinge are the freebies that do this)
- Be upfront about why you don’t drink, no matter what the reason. People aren’t as judgemental as your fear would have you believe – I always found it best to get this convo out the way early.
- There’s more chance of your date getting to know the real you as there’s no vino fuzz to hide behind. In my experience this means you get to know each other more quickly as there’s less game playing!
- Wear comfy shoes – I always, always, wore heels on dates when I drank – I knew I wouldn’t feel the pain after a few hours boozing. But now its flats every time! Bleeding ankles is not a good look.
- First kissing sober isn’t great – just putting it out there. You’re more self conscious and therefore more likely to be awkward, clash teeth, breathe through your mouth or go in for a handshake when the date was going for the lips (yep I did this – and I wanted to die).
As scary as it all sounds, the benefit of dating sober is actually remembering the dates, what you said and what you did, and there is minimal chance of having to do the walk of shame home after the first date (unless you want to). So dive in and have fun whilst doing it! It’s definitely worked for me 🙂