Making the decision to get sober has countless positive effects on a person’s life. But the one thing that recovery immediately makes difficult is dating. It’s already hard enough to find a person you get along with who aligns with your personal values—but add sobriety to the equation, and it gets even harder.
With that being said, sober dating is not impossible. The great thing about sober people is that they can have a strong preference to be around other sober people, creating the potential for lifelong bonds and relationships. As long as you go on a first date with the mindset that sobriety is a priority, sober dating can be fun. Read on for our top five tips for dating while sober.
Find alternatives to “grabbing drinks.” Alcohol is known as a “social lubricant,” meaning it breaks the ice and helps people loosen up on awkward first dates. But when you’re sober, you know that too many drinks on a date can lead to mistakes and regrets. When you’re dating while sober, it’s up to you to find ways to break the ice and have fun without relying on drinks to ease the tension.
The good news is that dates don’t need to be set in bars or clubs. You can have just as much fun with a date at a coffee shop or a local restaurant. Find some common hobbies you both have and form dates around those, such as taking a painting class, going on a bike ride, or cooking dinner together. When you open your mind to dates that don’t involve alcohol, you’ll find there are a lot of possibilities out there.
Don’t be afraid to explain why you’re sober. You don’t have to divulge all of your darkest secrets right off the bat, but there’s nothing wrong with explaining your sobriety to your potential partner.
There is no one right way to tell a partner about your history with addiction. To start, try divulging what you’re comfortable with your partner knowing, and be open to any questions they might have. Don’t feel pressured to tell them about some of your darker experiences, if you have them. These can be saved for when you are really comfortable with them. It’s up to you to decide what you want to disclose.
Look for a supportive partner. A big challenge of sober dating is finding someone who understands your past experiences with addiction and is as committed to your recovery as you are. The person you date should be supportive of your sobriety, and should never make you attend events or be in situations where you are pressured to use again.
If someone ever reacts negatively to your sobriety, remember that you don’t owe them anything. Your recovery journey is yours to protect, and you have the right to invite only the people you want to into your life. If you feel pressured to drink around them, or just feel uncomfortable in general, don’t be afraid to get out of the situation or end the date then and there. You have nothing to lose in getting out of a bad situation—but a lot to lose if you relapse.
Try online dating. Online dating sites or dating apps are increasingly common among people of all ages, and can be a good option for those who are just coming out of recovery. The benefit of online dating is that you don’t have to meet up in a bar. You can have that first initial conversation over the phone or through messaging.
Online dating and dating apps give you the power to find people who have the same values as you do. Many even give you the ability to filter other users’ interests, helping you match with those who also abstain from drinking or using drugs.
Take it slow. You worked hard to change your life for the better, so don’t feel pressured to rush into a relationship. You’re still learning how to go about life as a sober person, so adding in a relationship and potential stressors might be more than you can handle. When you first begin dating after your recovery, first try to make sober friends. Once you’ve become comfortable being around other sober people, you might be ready to try your hand at dating.
No matter how you approach dating after achieving sobriety, remember that nothing is as important as your relationship with yourself. You have the power to avoid tempting situations and toxic people, so do yourself a favor and take it slow. Think about the decisions you’re making in your love life, and ask yourself if they will strengthen your will for sobriety and lead you in the direction of a hopeful, sober lifestyle.
Dating while sober can be scary and intimidating. How can you expect virtual strangers to understand what you’ve been through, and support your motivations for wanting to be sober? But once you find the right person, you’ll see that sober dating is worth it. A relationship built upon sobriety allows you and your partner to forge deeper, longer-lasting connections. And because there are no blackout nights, every memory you make is that much more meaningful.
While dating while sober is challenging, getting sober is a different type of battle altogether. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, substance abuse, mental illness, or all three, Viewpoint Dual Recovery Center can help. All calls and inquiries are confidential, and our experienced team is available 24/7 to assist you. Contact us at 877-777-5150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.