A common fear among people who are considering entering recovery is that they will become boring and have a hard time connecting with other people without the use of alcohol. They may worry about their ability to find a significant other once they no longer drink.
A Year Without Dating
It is strongly recommended within the recovery community that newly sober single people wait a year before they begin a new relationship. There are a number of reasons for this advice:
- A year gives a person time to work on themselves, relearning who they are and what they want out of life, as well as work on making amends.
- Having had time to practice setting boundaries and respecting the boundaries of other people can be a huge asset to a new relationship.
- This time can provide a better understanding about healthy and unhealthy relationships.
- Even good relationships can be a distraction from the recovery process.
When to Disclose Your Recovery Status
Once you’re ready to begin dating, you may wonder how and when to share your addiction experience. While it is a personal decision about when to share your recovery story, it may be easiest to start off the relationship with openness about your decision not to drink, even if you don’t share why you abstain from alcohol.
- Before the first date – In some cases, such as online dating, it is possible to have a conversation about substance use before you ever meet in person, either by disclosing it on your dating profile or initiating a conversation about it. There are a number of reasons why people choose not to drink, so if you aren’t ready to disclose that you have struggled with substance abuse, you could just say that you choose not to drink.
- On the first date – If there wasn’t an opportunity to discuss sobriety or you didn’t feel ready previously, the first date can be a good chance to share a version of your recovery story. However, it’s okay to take your time, letting the conversation unfold naturally. This will give the other person a chance to get to know more about who you are before they learn about your history with alcohol.
- After the first date – The longer you wait to share your recovery journey, the more it may seem like you are embarrassed or ashamed of your past. You also risk that your date could find out some other way and think you were hiding your history from them.
The Benefits of Sober Dating
While your sobriety may turn off certain potential partners, the benefits of dating in recovery more than make up for occasional snubs:
- Dates in bars can become stale. Dates that take place in a different environment may be more memorable and make your date feel more special because you took the time to plan something unique.
- The relationship you are building won’t have a foundation of substance abuse.
- The person you are dating will get to know the real you, not a version of you that is created by alcohol.
- Dates may be more affordable, or you may be able to do more on a date with the same budget.
Sober Dating Ideas
If you are used to going places where alcohol plays a significant role, it might be difficult to think of other places where you can spend time with another person without drinking. However, there may be more options available than you realize:
- Take a class together – Whether the classes are online or in-person, you and your date could learn a new skill together. Options include cooking, coding, music, dancing, or a foreign language.
- Volunteer together – VolunteerMatch is a website you can use to find volunteer opportunities in your area, or it may be possible to sign up for opportunities through a local church, library, nursing home, or hospital.
- Reconnect with nature – Go for a hike; visit a city, state, or national park; or spend a day at the zoo.
- Enjoy a museum – Many communities offer art, history, science, or other museums, which provide a great opportunity to get to know another person and enjoy learning more about the topic at hand.
- Have a game night – Either video or board games can be a fun way to spend an evening. Inviting another couple or two to join you can also take off some of the pressure of getting to know the person you are dating.
- Have a picnic – If the weather is amenable, you and your date can enjoy your meal under the stars or in the sunshine.
- Hit some thrift stores, flea markets, or garage sales – Bargain shopping can be a good way to learn about your date’s tastes and to pick up some good deals.
We can Help
Sobriety is challenging, and dating while sober offers another set of challenges. But both sobriety and sober relationships are worth the effort. If you are struggling with substance use or are in recovery but feeling overwhelmed by cravings, Safe Harbor can help. We would love to meet you and help you find your unique path forward to recovery.