8 Things You Learn When You Date an Alcoholic

By The Fix staff 06/04/19

No, you really don’t need a drink to deal with the first-date jitters.

recovering alcoholic man and woman on a date

Wanna grab drinks?

It’s the easiest way to ask out someone new. It’s simple to meet at a bar or grab drinks after work, so it’s no wonder that alcohol is often considered an instrumental element to the dating game.

Yet, people who have decided to put alcohol out of their lives for good have to learn how to navigate dating without any liquid courage. Luckily, that’s not a bad thing. Whether you are in recovery or just dating an alcoholic, there are lots of lessons to be learned from sober dating.

  • It’s okay to be nervous.

If you’re a drinker it’s tempting to let alcohol put your mind at ease before a date. However, when that’s no longer an option you realize that it’s totally normal — and endearing — to be nervous for a date. Rather than trying to cover it up, lean into it. After all, having nerves shows that you care, and what could be sexier than that?

  • You don’t need alcohol to connect.

People drink for a variety of reasons — to escape their pain, to be more outgoing, to relax — and top among them is to connect with other people more easily. Yet, the connection that comes when you’re both sporting a buzz isn’t the real deal. The spark that’s shared when you’re sober, however, is legit.

  • Bars aren’t actually great places to get to know someone.

Bars are crowded, noisy and dark. Rather than hunker down with someone new, why not get out and explore together. Stroll through the local farmers market, see a play or visit a museum. You’ll be able to see each other, hear each other, and decide if this is something worth pursuing.

  • You want someone you can be sober and content with.

While many people find sharing a drink with their partner to be relaxing and fun, the reality is that most of your life together is going to be spent stone cold sober. Why not make sure you enjoy each other’s company without the beer goggles or liquid courage right from the start?

  • Sometimes, you want someone like you.

Although people in recovery can date people without a history of substance abuse, sometimes it’s nice to connect with other recovering alcoholics. If you’re dating someone who is also in recovery you don’t have to explain your sobriety or your commitment to your recovery program, and that can be very refreshing.

  • You have to do work, too.

If you’re not in recovery yourself, but are dating an alcoholic, it’s important that you be willing to put in some work. Educating yourself about addiction and recovery, and learning the dos and don’ts of dating someone with substance use disorder can help set your relationship up for success.

  • You have to own what’s important to you.

With drinking so prevalent in dating culture, people who are in recovery often have to proclaim their sobriety early on. While that might have been off-putting in the past, today there is nothing more appealing than a person who knows their challenges, owns them, and takes the time to do the personal work. Just don’t try to book a date during their meeting time.

  • Dating sober actually isn’t a big deal.

When you first set out to date sober, it can be super intimidating. But then you realize that it’s not actually that strange. In fact, these days more people than ever are avoiding alcohol and going on dates without chemical assistance, whether they have a history of substance use disorder or are just focusing on living a healthier lifestyle. That means if you’re trying to date sober, you have a bigger pool than ever to choose from.

Dating For Alcoholics is a website that connects people who are dating without alcohol.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

The Fix staff consists of the editor-in-chief and publisher, a senior editor, an associate editor, an editorial coordinator, and several contributing editors and writers. Articles in Professional Voices, Ask an Expert, and similar sections are written by doctors, psychologists, clinicians, professors and other experts from universities, hospitals, government agencies and elsewhere. For contact and other info, please visit our About Us page.