Dating Sober: Meeting People in Sobriety

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I had spent my life in and out of one bad relationship after another. All of them had been polluted by alcoholism, addiction, anger, and infidelity (sometimes I was the cheater, sometimes I was the cheatee). My romantic life was a pathetic mess, nothing more than a long list of broken promises and broken hearts, both mine and theirs. My dating life had been, to put it mildly, a complete horror show.

When I started my journey in sobriety, the very last thing I wanted to do was date, anyone. I was utterly burned-out on dating and everything that went along with it. I was also highly distrustful of other people and preferred to be alone rather than take another chance at disaster. With Paul’s encouragement, I decided to take a year off from dating, which allowed me to concentrate entirely on my recovery. I didn’t realize until then how much time I spent focusing on the opposite sex. Once I was able to let that part of my life go, I felt an enormous weight lift off my shoulders.

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After I passed my first year of sobriety, I was so happy with the way my life was going that I decided I still wasn’t ready to dip my toe back into the dating pool. So I continued forward, focusing on my recovery while working with others to help them stay sober.

However, there finally came the point when I was ready to “get back out there.” What I soon discovered was that dating without the courage that alcohol provided is pretty damn weird. You have to come up with things to do and say while trying not to have a nervous breakdown. It all proved to be a lot more complicated and challenging than I remembered because I mostly didn’t remember much from my days of drunk dating.

The biggest challenge I faced in this department was deciding whether or not I should date women who drank. On the one hand, most normal people drink moderately and don’t have a problem with alcohol like me. However, it might make me nervous being around someone while they’re drinking. I was worried that kissing someone with the scent of wine or vodka on their breath could trigger a relapse. Also, at this stage of my sobriety, I found it incredibly annoying to be around drunk people (I still do today, actually).

On the other hand, dating another recovering alcoholic would probably include all the baggage that we usually bring to the party. It is one thing to deal with my insanity and emotional instability, but dating someone with the same psychological issues could prove combustible.

I tried going both routes with mixed results. There were no fireworks, nor cupid arrows flying, but it was an interesting time, and I mostly enjoyed the experience of sober dating. Best of all, there were no broken windows, holes punched in any walls, or late-night screaming matches and complaining neighbors. My dating adventures were sometimes and sometimes dull, but without conflict or drama. Imagine that!

But “The One” never seemed to materialize.

I believe in the expression: “Let God do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.” I have found that this adage is particularly true when it comes to matters of the heart. Love seems to have its way of finding us when we least expect it and is often waiting in the most obvious places when we’re unaware of its proximity.

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I first noticed Dany at an AA meeting when I was in the early months of my sobriety. I was still in the middle of my dating embargo, so I never bothered to talk with her whenever we crossed paths. But I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I would glance over at her constantly whenever we were in the same meeting together, especially when she smiled or laughed. I thought she was beautiful and wondered if I would ever find the courage to talk to her.

I did finally talk to Dany — but it took three years. We were standing next to each other after a meeting when I complimented her about her new haircut. We spoke maybe ten words to each other that day, but afterwards, a friendship slowly bloomed.

It only took me another year to ask her out on a date (I never claimed to be a fast operator).

Even after I left Los Angeles for the Sierras, we continued to date. We traveled back and forth to see each other as often as possible. Long-distance relationships have a bad reputation, but for us, it worked. In 2012, on a warm and beautiful summer day, we were married on the side of a mountain overlooking the shimmering blue expanse of Lake Tahoe.

Our wedding was joined by friends and family who had come from far and wide to celebrate the most important day of our lives. Many of the people in attendance were our dear friends from AA, who traveled from Los Angeles to celebrate our union.

Today, we live in the Sierra Mountains with our two dogs, Moonpie and Biscuit. Our marriage, like our friendship, is based on trust, mutual respect, and love. Every day and every year seems to get better. I finally found The One I had been looking for my entire life. I only had to get sober to find her.

Through sobriety, I found love. How cool is that!


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