Mini Q&A/Sober Dating: “We Just Sort of Clicked”
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Mini Q&A/Sober Dating: “We Just Sort of Clicked”


This post was originally published on May 1, 2014.

There’s no question that dating in recovery can be a challenge. Discovering what kind of person you are when you’re sober is hard enough. Finding a compatible partner for the new you is another adventure altogether. Like recovery itself, sober dating  can be a bumpy road, but a little patience can sometimes  lead to big rewards.

Our regular column features short interviews with sober addicts about their forays into the dating world. This week we spoke with Ashley*, 28, of Boston, Massachusetts. Ashley has been clean and sober for over two years and attends NA meetings every 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: Is it weird if I didn’t really want to date after I got clean? Someone warned me against it, and I had…not an inkling of a desire. Like, I definitely wanted to eventually date, but it just seemed too weird. I felt pretty bad about myself for a long time even in the program, and though I loved the sense of hope I gained through recovery, I felt incredibly strange in my own body. I didn’t feel pretty. It would’ve been nice if somebody had made me feel pretty, but I was seeing myself in the harsh light of reality for the first time, and I had scars and was putting on weight…I needed to learn to be with my own self first.

I think I was eight or nine months clean when I finally wanted to start looking at men again. The first date I went on in recovery, a boy in a Starbucks asked me out. No joke. I was writing in my journal—I think I was doing Step 4—and he came up to me and asked if I wanted to have coffee with him. We were already at the coffee shop; I think that was the joke. He was kind of cute, so I said sure, and he pulled up a chair. Later that week he took me to see Silver Linings Playbook which was the wrong choice at that point. I was crying during the movie and he just felt awkward. I kind of broke down in front of him after and started spilling my guts about my cousin who’s bipolar and how I’d been in treatment, and I think it was way too intense for him. He gave me a really great hug and then sort of stopped calling. I was too embarrassed to call him back. It didn’t hurt as much as I’d thought because the relationship had never seemed that promising, but I guess I was bummed.

A few months later I went on a date with this hipster guy I met at a wedding. We were the only two sober people there, so we connected, but in the end that was the only thing we had in common, so we only saw each other a couple times.

Six months ago I met the guy who’s now my boyfriend. One of my friends introduced us, and we just sort of clicked. He has 10 years in a different fellowship, so he’s like my rock. I don’t think I’d want to be with someone other than an addict who has a lot more time than I’ve got. But that’s not all it takes; there’s a lot more to it, and sometimes it’s a struggle like anything else. I guess the advice I’d have for recovering addicts looking for love is to be patient and open-minded and focus on getting comfortable with yourself before going after validation from another person.

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About Author

Erica Larsen AKA Eren Harris blogs at Whitney Calls and Clean Bright Day. Their writing has also been published on Salon, Selfish, Violet Rising and YourTango. They live in Los Angeles with their husband and their enormous cat.