Guest Post: Dating While Sober by Ceponatia of Prime Recovery

dateDating isn’t easy for anyone. Recovery from an addiction is even tougher. Combine the two and you can imagine how tough life gets. 
How does dating feel when you can never again have a shot of vodka or a drink to boost your confidence before the first date? 

In today’s special post a US blogger, Ceponatia of Prime Recovery, shares his experience with dating from his first year of sobriety. 

Whether we’re living a sober lifestyle or trying out something like a “Sober July” challenge, dating in sobriety presents unique challenges that most people don’t ever face. Personally, I’m in it for the long haul; I was an active alcoholic for 18 years of my life, until June 2018. Once I decided to start dating again, I was quickly discouraged by the results. My liquid confidence was gone, I was just an ordinary guy who was kind of fat and not all that interesting. Not to mention 37 years old and living with his mother! Like most people in our present age, I chose to try online dating to dip my toes back into the pool. For the most part I was chewed up and spit out repeatedly, but I did manage to go on a handful of dates within the last year. Regardless if you’re either a lifer like me or just trying sobriety out, here are some of the challenges I’ve found to be my major obstacles on these dates:

Where do you go? When we think about going on a first date, at least in the western world, what immediately comes to mind? A pub, bar, tavern, etcetera? There aren’t a lot of places that you can take someone whom you’ve never met before. Aside from the time I was invited on a 4-state road trip with an alcoholic single mother I’d only been speaking to for three days (I didn’t go), all my first dates have been at bars. I’ve found that many people are uncomfortable eating in front of someone that they aren’t familiar with, so that rules out restaurants. Coffee isn’t generally something people drink in the evening, when most dates occur. Movies are just about the worst idea for a date because you can’t talk to each other. Bars are safe, so usually that’s where I go, which leads to the next problem…

The Question: “You’re not drinking?” she asks. She ordered an appletini; me, an iced tea. There’s no good way to answer this question that doesn’t make me look like a train wreck, unfortunately. Even if a guy is only sober temporarily, it raises an eyebrow. Why are you trying sobriety? Do you drink too much? Are you lying? Are you really an alcoholic and just don’t want to admit it? If you’re an alcoholic and averse to lying, as I am (it’s what my main pastime was as an addict, so I avoid lying like the plague), the date is probably over. They’ll hang around and humor you for an hour or however long it takes them to finish their drink, but you’re probably never going to hear from them again.

How much honesty is enough? Should we tell people up front if we are alcoholics? Is that really fair? How many people have shared their darkest moment from their past with someone they’ve just met? I’d wager that number is strikingly close to zero! This is a perplexing problem that I admit I don’t have the answer to. It’s one of the chief causes of my reluctance to openly date in sobriety. That said, I don’t hide the fact that I’m sober. My family, coworkers, and friends all know the deal. They still love me and I still have acquaintances tell me how proud they are, so it is likely that somewhere out there is someone who won’t care that one is a sober addict.

Social anxiety is also a problem. Many people prefer a drink to “loosen up” on a date but for me, that’s not an option. No, I am usually facing the terror of awkward first date conversation alone as my date is certainly not abstaining. I could certainly have an opinion about the fact that most people in America need to have a buzz to interact with one another, but that would be judgmental! Like anything, conversation is a skill and although I may occasionally wind up on a date like my last one, with a girl who went to the bathroom to snort a line of coke during our date, I’ve also had some downright pleasant ones.

Those are just a brief outline of the problems that I’ve encountered on my most recent dates. I’d never had any problems like that when I drank, unfortunately. Every date always seemed to go well! I was relaxed and charismatic and often I’d take her home. Sober me isn’t interested in relationships like that, though. For once in my life, I’m willing to go slow. I’m optimistic that, in time, I will figure out the answers to the questions above. When that time comes, I will shout them from the rooftops.

Dear Rinser, give kudos to Ceponatia in the comments section! It’s not a small thing to not only stay sober but also speak about it so openly. What’s your biggest challenge when dating? Do you often use alcohol as a crutch on a first date?

 

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12 comments

  1. Congrats on being sober for over a year and owning it too!

    As you know, I’ve dabbled in the sober life….a couple of months at a time, here and there. Things like #dryjuly and #dryjanuary but I don’t think I could commit to it long-term.

    I’ve spoken about my experiences on dating without the booze on the blog before. Honestly, in very special circumstances I think you can have a great date without alcohol. I went out with a guy who made the first move within 20 minutes of the date. I couldn’t even have had more than a sip of wine, if that and the chemistry was actually there from before I even arrived. But that was really an anomaly.

    Most of experiences of dating have been mediocre at best. And my worst experience through the whole experiment was the guy who told me he didn’t think it was necessary for men to drink on a date but its important to get the chick to lose her inhibitions by providing her with alcohol. Tfu tfu. #metoo vibes right there. Anyway, because we had quite a lot in common I did go on another date with the same guy after my booze-free stint was over. It did not end well, this gutless wonder who’d been all nervous when I was sober suddenly got the courage to face-rape me after a few glasses of bubbly. The thing is, even with the booze, there was zero chemistry. I think I knew that deep down,

    I think when the choice to not drink is driven by religious beliefs things can be a bit different. You can head to a religious gathering where you’ll meet likeminded people and I don’t think it’d be hard to connect with someone romantically. If you aren’t religious things are a bit tougher. But surely not impossible.

    Have you tried to expand your social circle by partaking in sober activities – joining a running club, hiking groups, etc? For me, the sporty stuff tends to lend itself towards the sober life. But there could also be other things – volunteering, maybe taking some sort of course. That way, you also gain a new skills while out meeting new people. It’ll certainly take longer this way, but maybe it is a better way of meeting quality people with similar interests rather than the typical find on dating apps/down the pub.

    Those are just my thoughts. Good luck out there. I look forward to hearing about your experiences.Thanks for a great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you both! Getting out and looking for sober activities is a great idea and one that I’ve thought about a few times. Sites like Meetup.com have plenty of things to do… I just always have that “I’m too busy” excuse. It’s true, for the most part, but I could try harder. There are also a disturbing amount of groups on meetup that shouldn’t revolve around drinking but do. I think that binge drinking as a hobby is more common in the United States although I can’t state that as a fact. There are even running groups here that drink WHILE running and then end in a bar. Insane. I would actually die if I drank while running.
    I do love hearing the insane things men say to you on dates, Rosie. Haha! At the very least, you give me pointers on what NOT to do. Disturbing that a man would basically admit that the only time he gets any action is when the woman is tipsy. You’re a kind soul for giving him a second chance, lol.
    Now that I think about it, the two relationships I’ve been in which I consider highlights of my dating life were initiated while stone sober, so there is hope. While I was still an active alcoholic back then and as such, not myself, neither of us were drunk on our first few dates. They probably wouldn’t have gone out with me a second time if I had been because they were confident, intelligent women who wouldn’t put up with that bs. Unfortunately the truth came out soon enough. One of them is still my best friend as we didn’t really break up… just transitioned to “we should probably just be friends” and she’s seen me through my worst times all the way until now. So I’m reminded that if a woman like her can see me at my absolute darkest period and still care about me, there are others out there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aww that’s sweet! It’s nice when you make good friends from the whole dating debacle. From what I can tell from our online interaction you seem quite comfortable with your sobriety which I think is key here. I’ve been out with someone who was insecure about his decision to drink and while he seemed ok about my moderate drinking at first when we got further into things he’d start chastising me and saying things like : ‘Go on alchy, have a second glass!! Go on!’. If he was OK with his decision I think he would have either steered clear of me or been totally OK with me drinking.

      I’ve been part of many running clubs where drinking features. I suppose its a better option than JUST drinking though which is why I guess it is a popular past time. Even after a hike, people will often suggest going for a beer.

      As for drinking and dating, there was this one guy I dated who hadn’t drunk for 3 months when I met him and he didn’t drink on our first few dates. I kinda of feel bad because I sort of peer-pressured him into drink with me eventually. But if I think about it, the fact that he was into me without his judgement being clouded by alcohol is actually quite flattering. Defo feel some regretsies their

      I’m glad my dating plights provide you with LOLs 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t drink & never have: I come from a long line of alcoholics on both sides of my family. I’ve been online dating on & off for 10 years: you get better at doing it sober, I promise! Learn to breathe through your nerves; try Toastmasters if you want to gain confidence talking (I met a guy there actually and we dated a few times); I’ve met for walks in the park, at the Art Gallery, at a cafe in the evening, at the theatre, for a beach or river stroll… there are lots of options other than bars. Keep up the good work- being sober is amazing: I love the clarity, the honesty of it, AND I save heaps of money 😊
    Enjoy this one precious life, & may you find Love 🙏🏼❤️ G

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve had no idea you’re sober. Well, done! I’m almost 21 months in myself 🙂 Funny you should mention Toastmasters. I find making friends and meeting new people more challenging when I’m sober so I’ve decided to give Toastmasters a try to help with that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Okay! I can get not getting really drunk but not not having a cup of coffee 😀 I almost feel like I should fly to Australia now and encourage you to have one 😉 Is it because you don’t like the smell or the addictive qualities?
        I stopped drinking coffee daily a few years ago because I don’t think it’s that great as a habit/addiction but I LOVE a good one just for the flavour from time to time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha! Just don’t like the taste- sets my teeth on edge- so bitter- ironically, my cousin is quite a famous coffee producer here in Australia, so I could be drinking the best beans, but not interested 😬
        I do think it smells lovely though 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, so you’ve had a sip then. Then I’m fine with that :p When you said you’d never had a cup my understanding was that you’d never tried it at all perhaps because of some aversion which I was interested to learn more about! 🙂
        What an interesting industry for your cousin’s in! I used to have no idea about coffee until I had to write a number of articles about it and now I’m a specialist 😀 If you ever change your mind and you don’t know which Italian coffee to choose, just let me know 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well done for staying sober!
    I know it’s not always easy. I think dating is particularly challenging – I even struggle with confidence to make new friends and for an expat/immigrant it’s a necessity. As a former party girl I feel that “I’m not cool enough” now. Of course, I know I’m a better person in general and it’s worth it but I also struggle with peer pressure. I often just walk away or excuse myself to bathroom if someone’s trying to push me into drinking.
    Good luck on your own journey. I’m sure there are plenty of people who’d appreciate the person you are and wouldn’t care about the fact that you don’t drink or about your past. From what I hear from more experienced sober people, it gets easier with time to say I don’t drink it and feel comfortable with that. If someone can’t respect that, they’re definitely not a good dating prospect for you. Try fitness oriented people. Apparently, the new fad in that community is not to drink at all too.

    Liked by 1 person

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