Getting hit on: for many, it’s the best reason in the world not to go to a meeting. For others, it’s the reason to go to a meeting. Yes, it can be weird. People make it to meetings during some of the most vulnerable times in their lives or days. So here’s a guide to avoiding the whole thing from someone who’s been on both sides (I’m not bragging—it was a homeless guy that handed me $13 dollars once by a trash can).
1) Hang with Just Your Gender
That group of girls outside before and after the meeting is a force field of girl sober power that isn’t to be fucked with. It’s usually led by a sassy strong woman with a decade-plus of sobriety who remembers when meetings weren’t trendy and when they were and when they weren’t again. This queen is surrounded by a handful of soldiers of girls from all walks of life who are in turn surrounded by the new girls they sponsor. Want in? Be gay, in real estate or play it cool. If you’re a girl, stick with this posse and no dudes with coffee cups will bother you.
I know it’s about as rare as a good a Nicolas Cage movie but I should add that I know men in recovery who have been hit on by both genders from all orientations and I know for a fact (because I’ve been one of them) that it’s affected their meeting attendance. There are often plenty of all-women and all-men meetings so I’d advise anyone wanting to avoid all this whole to do the single-sex thing.
2) Don’t Smoke Cigarettes outside the Meeting
Besides fellowship at a diner after the meeting, the majority of meeting mingling goes on outside before and afterwards. If you want to avoid the chatty folks who are very much into the social aspect of AA (hey, smoking can be the new social lubricant in a lot of sober people’s lives), simply avoid the outside ashtray. Who knows, this may even motivate you to quit. There are of course about a billion and one reasons not to smoke, and if you’ve just made a decision you want to live, why increase the likelihood that you’ll want to die?
3) Raise Your Hand as a Person Willing to Sponsor
Consider this one a cheat sheet on who not to hit on: at the end of most meetings, someone will make the announcement for people who are willing and able to sponsor to raise their hands so that those seeking sponsors can find out who’s available. Slimy dudes (can’t speak for the women here) will in turn know who is either looking for a sponsor or maybe not as focused on working their program and helping people (those with their hands down). It’s not a perfect science of course (many people who have too many sponsees won’t be raising their hands here, for example) but the more serious you look about the real reason you’re there, the less you’ll look like innocent prey.
4) Lead the meeting
Let’s be clear: the tragedy here is that a lot of the people getting hit on in 12-step meetings are new. The old saw “Let ‘em get on their feet before you get ‘em on their back” is, alas, not something that those in the program who have gotten on their feet always abide by. But a way to avoid emphasizing your shiny newcomer-ness is to lead a meeting as soon as possible. (Hey, it’s also a great way to get involved and increase your chances of staying sober.)
5) Talk about How Good Things Are When Sharing
There’s nothing more unattractive than being happy in AA. Just kidding. But really, if you want to avoid people annoying you by asking if you have a lighter after a meeting or, even worse, what meeting you go to on Friday or Saturday nights, try faking it ’til you make it and if you’re already there, then start sharing about it. Want to add some insurance to that? Sharing about talking to your sponsor is a bulletproof leave-me-alone vest.
If you want a comfortable experience in AA because your life before it was awful and you’re just happy to have a place that can save your life, it’s more than possible to avoid the 13th steppers. And to those attempting the seduction here, try to keep in mind that this is the bridge to the real world, not spin the beer bottle.