Reason Not to Drink #9: A First Date
I ended my almost five-year-long relationship with B. last year. I’m still hurting from that; I think it’s going to take a long time to heal. But I don’t want to sit around moping. I live in a wonderful, vibrant city and there’s plenty going on. And there’s nothing like keeping busy to distract me and keep my alcoholic mind from obsessing over the demise of my relationship.
Now, I’m fine doing things on my own; in fact, I often prefer to experience some events independently. I also have a wealth of good friends with whom I do all sorts of activities. I enjoy their company and I’m pretty sure they enjoy mine.
I sometimes worry, though, that I’m getting on their nerves, hanging around them so often these days. I feel like Bobby Brady in the back seat, tagging along with Marcia or Greg on their dates. After all, I’m in my 40s, and I don’t have that many single friends, so I’m typically the odd woman out. And truth be told, I miss having a romantic partner. When my kids aren’t around — and even when they are — I want someone besides Daisy to snuggle up to (no offense, Daisy!) and to enjoy experiences with and to share goals and joys and sorrows with.
Since I was about 17, however, I’d never gone on a first date without having at least one alcoholic drink. I believe that most non-sober friends of mine could probably make a similar declaration. It’s just what people do, to loosen up and relax and help with nerves and the conversational flow.
So not only had I not been on a first date in more than five years, I’d never been on one completely sober. And I had no idea how to do it.
Of course, I had to meet someone first.
In the past, I hadn’t really looked at bars as places to meet people – they were more a setting for socializing with friends, and to meet their friends. I’m not opposed to the occasional happy hour now that I’m sober, but it’s not a big draw for me. Even if I did drink, the noise and crowds aren’t appealing to this 40-something. (Yeah, I’m getting old.)
What’s more, I’m a single mom who works outside the home, so I’m busy. My job is good and interesting, yet I don’t meet too many new people through work.
So I ventured into the world of online dating.
The site I chose gives members the option of listing their drinking preferences – both noting their own habits and what they’d like in a partner. I angsted over this for quite some time.
I worried that if I listed “not at all” to describe my own drinking behavior, potential dates might think it was for religious reasons, or that I was some sort of stick in the mud. And what of the men who put “often” or “every day” as their drinking style? Should I even consider someone who drank frequently?
I finally decided to be honest, figuring that I’d really only want a partner who wouldn’t form an opinion based on one aspect of my profile. And I decided to be open to dates whose drinking habits differed from mine.
Admittedly, I was drawn to the men who listed “not at all” as their drinking style. I assumed that meant that they were sober like me, and there’d already be a bit of shared experience and understanding between us. As expected, the sober men who contacted me brought up the issue of sobriety fairly early in our communication. What really surprised me was that the “regular” guys didn’t even seem to notice what I’d chosen to put in my profile. And here I had been so concerned…
I tried to keep first meetings limited to coffee dates for a number of reasons. A coffee meeting required minimal time and expense; if we didn’t feel some hint of compatibility, we could easily cut our losses. It also meant I didn’t have to worry about explaining my choice of sparkling water over wine or cocktails with dinner.
And so, eventually, I went on a date and didn’t drink.
I was nervous. I felt awkward. I chugged my coffee and got all jittery. I chugged my water and badly needed to use the restroom. I didn’t like the guy. I felt disappointed. But I made it through my first date without relying on alcohol. I had survived.
And then, I went on another first date and didn’t drink. This one wasn’t a match, either, and it was okay. When I started to feel discouraged and began to long for B., I didn’t reach for a drink to numb myself to the sadness.
Very few of those first dates led to second dates. But some did, which of course led to anxiety over yet another Reason Not To Drink: A First Kiss.
And that, my friends, is another post for another time.
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Tags: 12-Step Program, AA, AA program, alcohol-free, alcoholic, alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, change, dating, dating and sobriety, dating while sober, dating without drinking, getting sober, life, not drinking, online dating, recovery, relationships, sober, sober dating, sober first date, sobriety, staying sober, wine
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