A typical first date is often built around going out for drinks. But what if you’re in recovery and sober dating is the only option?
Because drinking is so often intertwined with first dates, the alcohol deal-breaker may become apparent much earlier in the dating game than things like political leaning and relationship history – two other potential deal-breakers.
Of course, as long as we’re living in a pandemic, going out for drinks or meeting in person at all may not be in the cards for first dates anyway. You may be stuck with virtual get-togethers for the first few dates.
Even so, as your first dates turn into second and third dates, and beyond, eventually you’re going to meet dates in person.
How do you make sure your dating experiences don’t jeopardize your recovery?
According to a NY Times article on sober dating, Finding Love Without Alcohol:
“Sans alcohol, sober daters can focus on the individual they’re spending time with and stay present. ‘You have a lot more energy because alcohol is a depressant,‘ said Ruby Mehta, a licensed clinical social worker and the director of clinical operations at Tempest, a digital recovery program in Manhattan.
For sober individuals, mornings come without hangovers or alcohol-induced feelings of regret. ‘People say they make better decisions when they’re not under the influence of alcohol, whether that’s how you want the date to end, or what you did or did not want to disclose on the first date,’ Ms. Mehta said. ‘You have more control over that if you’re not drinking.'”
The article also notes these online dating apps strictly for non-drinkers:
These sites aren’t custom-made for daters over 60, but it looks like they do accept people of all ages.
What’s Your Sober Dating Plan?
If sober dating is a necessity, do you have a plan for navigating the dating waters without drinking?
Cosmo and I are both in recovery and, when we were dating, we both tried to stick to people who also didn’t drink.
At first, I experimented with dating men who were occasional drinkers, but quickly learned that approach wouldn’t work.
People often fool themselves about their level of alcohol consumption.
They may call themselves an occasional or moderate drinker, but in reality their 2-3 drinks a day makes them heavy drinkers, or close to it.
Even the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services guidelines count this as excessive drinking.
Have you consider all the ins and outs of dating while in recovery?
Do you have a dating game plan that safeguards your sobriety?
Your Guide to Sober Dating
I’ve pulled together several posts of ours – 2 by Cosmo, 2 by me – that speak to our own experiences with sober dating.
We hope they help you find your soulmate – or just some friendly dates – while staying true to your commitment to staying sober.
4 Tips To Sail Through Online Dating When You’re Over 60 and in Recovery, by me
If you’re a non-drinker and in recovery, dating (online or otherwise) can be tricky, and sometimes risky, if you’re not mindful.
I know it was for me.
I had been sober for more than 5 years when I started dating seriously, leading me to Sam (my partner before Cosmo).
At first, I didn’t rule out dating men who drank, as long as they didn’t drink much.
It seemed counterintuitive to further limit the already small pool of eligible men in their sixties, living nearby in this rural, sparsely-populated area. The pickins were pretty slim to begin with.
I should have known better, but after Sam died and I was ready to date again, leading me to Cosmo, I did it again. I went on dates with men who were drinkers.
After a few unpleasant experiences I realized I could only be with someone who was also a non-drinker.
Dating an Addict in Recovery: Mature Dating Advice from Sober Alcoholics, by Cosmo
In Cosmo’s words:
A few years ago, I was talking with a friend (also in his 50’s and in recovery) about dating, relationships, and marriage. He was now happily married for several years following a previous marriage and divorce. Both he and his current wife were recovering alcoholics, sober for many years.
I asked him what he thought about dating an addict or alcoholic who was in recovery. Without hesitation he answered, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Through my many years in recovery, I witnessed many friends who had good relationships and bad. Sobriety was certainly no guarantee of a good relationship. When I asked my friend the question, I had been reluctantly considering a re-entry to the dating scene.
With the help of a great therapist I’d figured out why my previous relationships had failed. I was hopeful about perhaps finding the right partner, but I was also ok with being a single man heading into my sixties. (I did indeed find that partner in Daisy!)
One of the questions that lingered was whether I should stick to dating someone in recovery, or could I safely reach out to “normal” humans?
Addiction, the Mature Dating Deal-Breaker That Will Keep You From Finding True Love, by me
Is addiction holding you back from finding true love?
Whether you’re an addict yourself or addicted to people who are addicts, this can be a big problem.
Active alcoholics and other drug addicts are not good candidates for serious relationships. Feeding the addiction(s) is an every day necessity, the top priority. They are not capable of giving and receiving love.
They use alcohol and/or drugs to mask deep-seated personal issues, which they’re not capable of resolving while they’re actively using.
The substance controls and drives every aspect of their lives.
Dating Someone Who Drinks When You Don’t – 5 Tips from a First Date Gone Wrong, by Cosmo
In Cosmo’s words:
When I returned to the dating scene, I had a simple plan about how to handle a first date. Part of that plan was to let my dates pick the location. After all, I wanted her to feel comfortable and safe. It also seemed the gentlemanly thing to do.
One of my dates selected a pleasant local bar and restaurant where we met at 5 p.m. Since we weren’t staying for dinner, she said she preferred to sit at the bar.
That’s when things started to get uncomfortable.
Part of the reason for this stems from my background. I’m a sober alcoholic in recovery for many years. However, I can be around bars, parties, and alcohol without getting uncomfortable. I don’t make a habit of it because I don’t enjoy that atmosphere and it’s not wise for anyone in recovery. But I can move freely through the world, in all kinds of social situations, without worrying about encounters with alcohol.
So, as we sat, I didn’t worry about the bar. I planned to do my normal thing and order a coffee or non-alcoholic drink. Yet it had been many years since I’d been seated at a bar. For some reason, a feeling of discomfort began to take over.
I told myself it was because I was meeting a woman for the first time and feeling a little nervous. That’s certainly normal and can be a useful kind of stress. I told myself to focus on the conversation.