A higher level of self-awareness and self-care
The idea of sober dating may seem like a scary proposition. There’s the worry that no one would want to date someone in recovery. Or, that someone will not accept someone who knows their own limits and their own body at this level. We live in a culture of more is better, so dating a recovering person will introduce a significant other to a higher level of self-awareness and self-care.
For some people, dating someone who is attuned and centered, can be intimidating. The more is better culture tends to confuse people about what matters, what it takes to have fun, and what is enough. All of this mixes internal cues about self-identity and makes it harder to really connect. Dating takes time. But, most importantly, it takes courage to be YOU!
Don’t let self-doubt or self-defeating imaginations get in your way. Dating is the best when people are fully themselves and not hidden under the effects of alcohol, drugs, or, any mask. You are well on your way to meeting the person who will feel more vibrant and enlivened because that is just what you reflect sober!
The process of recovery is all about learning and change. Challenges that seem insurmountable at one stage in sobriety become easier in another. Follow these tips when considering dating in sobriety:
Take Your Time
Don’t rush it if you are not ready to date. Even under the best of circumstances, sober dating can be confusing and stressful. Adding sober dating to the emotional roller coaster of learning to live sober could be dangerous if you’re not ready. If life feels crazy, take it slow. When you are truly ready to date, it will be easier and more enjoyable. A good way to know and something to discuss with a sponsor or confidant: How many masks are you wearing in a day? Under what circumstances? Why?
Trust Your Gut
If dating doesn’t feel right, wait until it does. You do not have to force yourself into uncomfortable situations. If you’re feeling pressure from yourself or others, take a deep breath and a step back. Your sobriety must come first. It may be humbling to admit, but it’s true. In order to date, you need to be a functional, healthy adult that others will want to spend time with. Put your sobriety before romance. When your authenticity exudes and you can feel yourself abandoning self-limiting ideas and distorted thinking, talk to your sponsor or counselor about what sober dating really looks like, when two adults want to spend time together.
Be Honest With Yourself
Talk with your sponsor, your sober friends, and recovery professionals about your readiness for dating. A date is NOT worth losing your cool or your sobriety over. When you are ready, choose your dates and locations wisely. Your old bar is probably not a good idea. Meet at a hip coffee shop that has live music in the evening or a café with a lovely outdoor patio. Make the date about getting to know each other, not about what you are drinking or mistakes you made under the influence. Your past is not on trial. Your personality is fresh and unencumbered by shame, so be you. When you know you, it’s much more likely to know if you like the person you are eating dinner with.
Share When You Are Ready
Your sobriety is yours to disclose or not. You do not need to share your situation with everyone you meet, especially on a first date. If you are uncomfortable talking about your recovery, then don’t. It may take some time before you can let go of any shame or embarrassment you may feel. There will be a time when you are proud of your sobriety, rather than feeling like it’s a dark secret. Be patient with yourself. If someone asks why you aren’t drinking, simply say, “I used to drink and it worked. But, then it didn’t work anymore, so I stopped.” Simple, honest while maintaining privacy.
Have a Good Time Dating!
The great part about sobriety: making choices you are proud of because there is nothing to be ashamed of. You get to spend time with people where mutual respect is involved. In sobriety, you learn that you deserve to be in healthy relationships. You don’t have to date people who can’t have fun while sober. You’re a person of integrity now and choices. Dating can be a fun adventure. You can enjoy sober dating. Just think, you may find a partner to have fun with, who will love you for you!