Although getting sober is a huge accomplishment, the time immediately after is usually a serious adjustment period. Before anyone quits drinking or using drugs, chances are they’re hanging out with plenty of people who are doing the same thing. As soon as they’re sober, those people who used to be “friends” may now become somewhat unsafe to be around—or in other cases, they may disappear entirely because that person is no longer their drinking buddy. After all the smoke clears, learning how to be in a romantic relationship again without drugs and alcohol is a whole other challenge. And because so much dating happens online these days, many people are left wondering: “Where are all the sober dating sites?”
According to Stefan Simonovic of First Beat Media, a company that specializes in providing a range of sober dating sites to people in recovery, anyone sober dating can usually expect some tricky issues around intimacy on a first date. “Some people are simply not comfortable with disclosing their AA status to a random Joe,” Simonovic says. “One can remain silent and save the conversation for later, but repeatedly saying ‘no’ to beer or wine might raise suspicions. An ex-addict might even feel pressured to tell everything about their past!”
Let’s face it: the prospect of sober dating is a pretty intimidating one. According to a Stanford study using data from 2017, nearly 40% of the new couples polled said that they met online. Still, it goes without saying that online dating comes with plenty of hurdles that are uniquely challenging for the newly sober. For one thing, after all the flirting, bantering and trust-building that online matches are bound to go through first, the line that typically leads to an in-person date is, “Do you want to grab a drink?” For the newly sober, it can be tough to navigate that moment without killing the mood—or feeling like a lengthy explanation is necessary.
Even if a first date goes well, complications around sober dating can also arise later in the relationship. “Take this scenario, for instance,” Simonovic says. “An ex-addict is dating someone who’s a weekend drinker. There’s chemistry, they aren’t unpleasant to look at, but they can’t help but go to bars and clubs on weekends.” Though there’s nothing inherently wrong with this dynamic, Simonovic says, it’s bound to make the newly sober at least a little uncomfortable over time. “Fast forward a few months,” he says, “and this will probably cause a series of conflicts and disagreements.” Fortunately, there are sober dating sites out there that can take the complexity out of this equation.
Much like any other online dating service, anyone using First Beat Media’s sober dating sites can simply log on, make a profile, fill it out with pictures and relevant details about themselves and start browsing. Unlike dating apps and websites that are aimed at a broader population, everyone on these sober dating sites has essentially been pre-screened. Rather than worrying about whether you’ll have to make up excuses for not drinking on a first date, anyone using these services can focus instead on getting to know one another and making a connection. Though there’s been plenty of debate about whether it’s better for recovering addicts to date other addicts or just “normies” who don’t have serious addiction issues, the truth is relatively simple. For anyone who has significant sober time under their belt, their values are likely to be more aligned with someone else like them.
Ultimately, First Beat Media has a simple goal with its sober dating sites. “We provide people in recovery an opportunity to find other recovering addicts and singles who want to date them,” Simonovic says. Just like any other app, these sober dating sites are simply a tool available for use however people see fit. On the one hand, recovering addicts and alcoholics may also want to have short-lived romances and meetings without risking their hard-earned sobriety. On the other, they may want to find someone that’s right for them on a deep level, someone to love and settle down with. Both are entirely possible. Above all, sober people deserve just as much of a shot at romance and love as anyone else does—and with these sober dating sites, that chance at a real connection is closer than ever before.