Dating and Sobriety

Let’s wrestle with a tough dating dilemma – How to best date if you are practicing sobriety. You’ve made a conscious choice to give up drinking and/or drugs, and so if dating weren’t challenging enough, now you have the extra questions in your mind about how to date as a sober person, when to date and whom to date.

And then there’s the question that other people are asking – are YOU someone who’s “safe” to date?

Fortunately, we have experts who specialize in sobriety issues, one of whom is my friend and colleague, Sherry Gaba, author of a book I LOVE, The Law of Sobriety: I met with Sherry in her Westlake Village office to deepen my understanding of the myriad of ways that drinking and drug use affects us all, and to develop resources and solutions for today’s single love seeker whose life has been touched in some fashion by alcoholism, addiction, and recovery.

If you are in recovery, one of the questions you likely have in your mind is – Should I be dating? And if so, WHOM should I be dating. This blog article was written for you:


The other issue that’s pressing on my mind today, related to sobriety, recovery, and 12-step programs is this: Should those who don’t have addiction issues say No to dating those who ARE or who HAVE chosen a life of sobriety?

Here’s why I’m asking this question. I saw two specific situations this past month, where an introduction I really wanted to make was stalled out due to this very issue. There was enough fear or worry or concern that the person in sobriety might be “damaged goods” or that there might be a relapse, or that the person in sobriety might be too much of a “program person” – deeply rooted in the 12-step process, with life revolving around meetings, conventions, sponsor calls, etc.

And these two stalled out introductions made the matchmaker pout…. As in both of these situations (potential matches) there were FAR more reasons (in my mind) for the two to meet than there were for them NOT to meet, but … in both situations, the match wasn’t made and I keep wondering if we missed an opportunity. In fact, I know that we did.  And as the matchmaker, I can only show the horses where the water is, I can’t force water down throats.

If you’ve been following me and my philosophy for any amount of time, you know what I’m going to recommend, don’t you? I’m going to recommend that you try the hat on. IF indeed the person you’re considering meeting DOES seem to have the qualities and characteristics, the attributes that you’ve determined are your Top Three or your Top Five, YES, indeed…. Meet this person. Try the hat on, to see how it fits, and especially how it FEELS being in this person’s presence. Does this person bring out the best in you? And visa versa?

With each challenge comes an opportunity. Never have I seen this principle so well illustrated as inside the rooms of 12-step recovery meetings. Whether the addiction is to alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, sex or food — what’s taught, shared and infused into the psyches of the courageous folks who are in these meetings is wisdom – insight, understanding, compassion, acceptance, tolerance and … love.  What’s being taught in the rooms of recovery (and in family focus groups like Alanon, Adult Children of Alcoholics, etc.) is how to be a better human, how to live a fuller, richer, more honest and REAL life. It’s GOOD for us to learn how to be better humans. This is why we hear people using the term “grateful alcoholic” – because of the blessings and the gifts that come to the person who’s courageously and consciously choosing to carve out a better life.

It seems to me that anyone who’s earnestly studied how to live a truly good life would be someone worthy of knowing and befriending. These folks (those who’ve really dug in to embrace sobriety in a serious way) have two qualities that in my mind are SUPER desirable for partnership – Courage and Honesty. They’ve taken the plunge – deep into their own selves, to wrestle with their demons (rather than hide from them) and to tackle them. And those who’ve really embraced the program have learned how to serve others, to be there for the people in their lives, to give, to receive, to love in a fully human way. I see far more “broken” people in bars than I do in recovery meetings.

The message I want to leave you all with, related to this question – to date a sober person or not – is simply this: Look first, and then decide. Experience being with this person first, before quickly dismissing or vetoing or discarding. The benefit of being with a person who’s done this self-discovery work might just be meaningful, life-long love with a grown-up.

I guess the burning question in my mind is: Do YOU have the courage to be REAL, open and honest.  If so, then don’t dismiss the Learner / Grower who’s done some serious inner work. Whatever the negatives were that drove the person to the rooms of recovery, the positives are there in full force in this person’s life today.

, ,

One Response to Dating and Sobriety