When you are sober, dating a drinker is more challenging than you might think. Opinion

Sara B

When I first quit drinking, I was single and not dating. I had no plans of dating for at least a year; I had attended AA meetings in the past, and I remember that being one of the most critical parts of sobriety, working on yourself and learning to be with yourself and your feelings without the influence of someone else around you.

Writing this now, I would like to say it was all rainbows and kittens, but in the first year of sobriety, it is crucial to stay single if you are already single. However, if you are with someone, that is a different story I will not tell as it is not my experience.

Luckily, I started what feels like my 100th attempt at sobriety during the pandemic, an excellent reason to not date, not go out and sit and stew in my miserable life, or at least that is what I told myself. Finally, I had an excuse not to go out and be around others who were a bad influence on me and working from home, so I did not leave my house.

However, life became a bit questionable after a year, and restrictions were lifted. Can I go out and be around people without drinking? Is it possible most of us drinkers have extreme social anxiety? Well, at least I do. I am better behind a keyboard talking than face to face.

When I was dating previously, the dates involved going out for a beer or a glass of wine. Now what? Eventually, I just decided I would order a soda water with lime when I showed up. Sometimes I would get questions, and it always leaves me to question.

Why is alcohol the only toxic substance we get asked why we don't drink it?

If I say no to a crack pipe, cocaine, cigarettes, weed, or heroin, no one blinks an eye. Yet, if I say no to an alcoholic beverage, I automatically get lumped into the alcoholic label. Which I'm afraid I have to disagree with.

I used alcohol as a bandaid to cover up my feelings, but I stopped and no longer subscribed to being a social drinker. No label is required. If someone stops smoking to label them an ex-cigarette addict, no.

When immersed in the dating world, I was open with the person I was on the date with, that I did not drink. Most people do not see it as a problem.

However, there is a problem when a drinker dates a non-drinker. When I started dating my ex, I explained that I do not drink, I never want to drink, and I feel healthier and happier without drinking. He said it was not a problem; I was ecstatic because most people think that when someone does not drink, they secretly judge the drinker.

Sometimes we might, but overall we are not. We do not care if you do not harass us to drink. Yet there are a few things that we will no longer enjoy. I do not want to stay until the bar closes; I am out once I see people start to get drunk and stupid.

I leave, go home, and sleep; I no longer need to prove that I can out-drink everyone and pray to the porcelain god all night. I do not want to talk to someone extremely drunk, the stories eventually repeat, and I am bored.

Small talk is not my strong suit, and drunk small talk irritates me. This part of sobriety is when drinkers start to realize dating a nondrinker might not be for them. I usually would go on with my night, and when he wanted to stay out late, I would, but some nights I would leave early.

It was problematic; he wanted me to be there the entire night. I typically had things to do the next day, working in the garden and cleaning the house. I am not 25 and do not enjoy being hungover and exhausted on the weekends.

I want to enjoy life and remember what I do the next day. Even when we talked, and I explained to him I am not jealous or controlling, go out without me; he told me he was afraid he would cheat on me if drunk.

I am yet again single; next time, I will find someone whose values align with mine; alcohol is not for me, and neither was that relationship.

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Pasadena, CA

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