Mini Q&A/Sober Dating: "It Seems Simpler to Not Date"
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Mini Q&A/Sober Dating: “It Seems Simpler to Not Date”

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Dating and relationships can be quite the minefield for sober addicts and alcoholics (if you’ve been off the sauce for any length of time beyond a month or two, you’ve probably noticed this already). Of course, romantic stuff can stir up lots of baggage and fears for everyone, but it can feel even harder for soberites because we can’t rely on social lubricants to help ease all the mega-awkwardness.

In this spirit, we’ve decided to launch a regular column featuring mini-interviews with sober addicts about their dry dating experiences, dreams and debacles. This week we spoke with Kelly*, 34, of Baltimore, Maryland. Kelly has been sober for three years and attends AA meetings two-to-three times per week.

Q: What has your experience been like when it comes to dating in sobriety? Has it been hard, easy, painful, no big deal? Have you had any long-term relationships since you got sober?

A: Oh, the dating thing has been pretty tough; I can’t lie about that. When I first stopped drinking and going to meetings, I got super-distracted by the huge new population of available guys around me. It was a big temptation; my sponsor kept saying I should avoid dating in my first year, but that was…[pretty hard]. I didn’t always take that advice, though I actually [don’t know] many program people who did take that advice! In some ways, dating and sex are some of our only vices left, you know?

Anyway, when I was six months sober or so, a guy in the program asked me out. I wasn’t that attracted to him to be truthful, but I wanted to try it out because I was kind of lonely and he was a popular guy with 10 years of sobriety and lots of friends in the rooms. I was hoping the attraction might build or whatever because we totally had stuff in common.

That turned into a bad experience for me. We only dated for a little bit, and the attraction really didn’t grow—not on my end anyway. We also had a fucked up experience once in bed. We hadn’t slept together yet, but the one time we got close, he kind of…went ahead and started having sex with me without even asking if I was [into it!]. I was shocked and put off because he had seemed so nice. I obviously jumped ship on that one and didn’t really date in AA again for another year or something. I didn’t really talk to him after that.

A year later, I got in a longer relationship with a non-sober “normal” guy. He felt more stable and comfortable to me than most of the AA guys. It only lasted seven or eight months, but it was a decent experience overall. Since then, I’ve been steering clear of dating. I want to hook up with people sometimes, but I don’t want to get hurt or hurt anyone else so [it kind of]seems simpler to not date at all.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and CNN.com. Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.