Even if getting sober is a huge obstacle all on its own, trying to date after getting clean presents a whole new set of problems for sober singles. According to USA Today, approximately one in every seven Americans will struggle with substance abuse in their lifetime—though even more serious than that is that only 10% of people will actually seek treatment for these issues. As soon as recovering addicts get clean, however, they soon realize that being sober is just the first step of a long journey, one that includes avoiding relapse, staying sober, examining oneself and reengineering one’s life to stay on the road of making healthy choices. Nobody tends to think about the difficulties of putting oneself back on the market as part of that journey as well (at least, not ahead of time).
To put this in perspective, simply think back to the last first date you went on. Chances are you were incredibly nervous and eager to make a good impression. In the pursuit of trying to feel more comfortable with one another, you and your date partner might have even had a few drinks to loosen up. Though “normies” may be able to continue doing this, this line of action is simply not available to sober singles. Instead, they have to face a complete stranger, perhaps even someone they met off the internet and haven’t seen in person before, and try to forge a connection with them without recourse to alcohol.
Adding to this complicated problem is the fact that, according to Quartz, about 40% of new American couples are meeting online first. Without a doubt, online dating has made the world significantly easier for people to meet other people they might be compatible with. Still, the market is mostly designed for “normies” rather than sober singles. Fortunately, however, that isn’t the case anymore.
“We provide sober singles an opportunity to find other recovering addicts and singles who want to date them,” says Stefan Simonovic of First Beat Media, a company dedicated to providing online dating services for recovering singles. While many addicts and alcoholics in early recovery may be riding the “pink cloud” of sobriety and feeling like they’ve overcome the biggest obstacle in their lives, trying to date can sometimes complicate that reality. Still, even sober singles deserve the same opportunities as anyone else to find someone they truly love and connect with—though it may have to happen outside the confines of “traditional” online dating. “Going on a traditional date to a bar or club doesn’t necessarily mean a sober single will slip,” Simonovic says, “but it can still have a negative impact on their mood and make them perform worse on dates.”
With all that in mind, First Beat Media decided to make a platform exclusively for sober singles to meet and connect with one another. Like any other dating app you could think of, this service allows anybody to log on, fill out their profile with pertinent information, upload some photographs and start browsing to find potential matches. Unlike a service that’s open to anybody who wants to apply, this recovery-specific service already does a lot of the work ahead of time. “This way, sober singles can weed out individuals who could send them down the wrong path again,” Simonovic says.
While there’s no way to completely account for just how well two people will click when they meet in person, this process has always been notoriously murky for sober singles. They may sit down on a first date and not like someone very much and be tempted to drink—with no obstacles (and maybe encouragement) from the other person. On the other hand, they may like the person across from them very much…but that person drinks, and the recovering person also feels pressure to do so. On the other hand, maybe they don’t want to drink but they also don’t want to explain their entire recovery back story on the first date! By creating an app exclusively for sober singles, First Beat Media has taken a significant amount of the uncertainty and guesswork out of the equation.
No matter what sober singles may be looking for, whether it’s a short-term fling or a long-term romance, it’s important that the way they look doesn’t put them or others in unnecessary danger. Though there’s no way to guarantee that two people will hit it off, it helps a lot to know that the person you’re sitting down with shares the same values and priorities that you do—including staying sober. At the very least, it’s a good first step to a bright and romantically fulfilling future.