When someone is new to recovery, they have to make room for self-discovery and focus on practices that help them establish a firm footing in sobriety. This explains why most experts recommend they wait about a year before starting to date again. So if you’re on the cusp of wanting to mix and mingle, we have some tips that might help.
Dry Dating: Open to Everyone
Positive social engagement is a pillar of successful recovery. Enjoying quality time alone and feeling lonely in recovery are two different perspectives—one helps you focus on self-care and activities you enjoy, while the other can prove to be detrimental to your health over time.
Is a partner always the answer? No, as some people prefer to be single. But getting to know people and expanding your social circle allows you to stay connected and open to new experiences.
Here’s the really good news: due in part to the popular wave of sober curious movements, more people than ever are interested in dry dating.
- Business Insider reported in 2021 that a rise in non-alcoholic drink alternatives combined with more wellness-conscious consumers means people “want to have a healthier lifestyle or are losing interest in alcohol.” Sales of spirit-free beverages rose 20 percent between August 2021 and August 2022.
- A 2022 survey from U.K. dating app Bumble indicated that “34 percent of folks using the app say they’re more likely to go on a ‘dry date’ now than pre-COVID” and more than double that percentage of respondents believe “sober dating could help them form more genuine emotional connections.”
- Another dating app, Hinge, released findings from a summer 2022 survey that indicated “75 percent of global Hinge singles say going to get drinks is no longer their preferred first date activity.” Additionally, more than half the respondents want to be in the best state of mind to get to know the other person, which drinking doesn’t always allow—and two in three said “it would be a dealbreaker if a date drinks too much on a first date.”
So you’re totally not an outlier by choosing sober dates. In fact, many apps have a badge or some other indicator you can place on your profile that refers to a non-drinking status, just as you would if you’re not a smoker.
Do You Always Have to Explain?
How much you divulge about your recovery depends on many factors, including how you’re meeting people, what activities you enjoy, and so on. If you’ve provided no information about your sobriety and your new date suggests going to a hot new club with alcohol or to chill at a marijuana dispensary, things might get awkward fast. To avoid this, suggest ideas that create more opportunity for connection or exploration, such as meeting for a cup of coffee, visiting a new museum exhibit, or trying cuisine new to both of you.
You’re in total control of your life’s narrative at all times, so if you don’t feel like sharing your recovery story just yet, especially on a first date, you can simply say, “I’m not drinking today”, and leave it at that. No matter what, your choices deserve respect.
Keep in mind, though, that living authentically as your sober self means that if you envision a future with this person, romantically or otherwise, the two of you will need to have an honest conversation about drug and alcohol use.
On recovery site The Temper, contributor Amanda Kuda details some of her experiences dating as an alcohol-free woman.
Sober Dating Apps
You can make it much easier to dry date by limiting your options. One guaranteed way to avoid the “oh, so why don’t you drink?” question completely is to seek out new people on sober dating apps. Here are a few:
- 12 Step Match
- Clean and Sober Love
- Meet Mindful
- Silver Singles
- Single and Sober
Additional Tips for Dry Dating
Without a doubt, dating is its own adventure, especially if you’ve been out of the scene for a while. But these tips from The Washington Post might help.
- Don’t make excuses for not drinking. A simple statement like the one mentioned above should be enough. If someone pressures you for more information, you can always end the date early and not contact that person again.
- Make not drinking a positive thing. If you feel comfortable with an individual, The Post suggests saying something like, “I find that without alcohol, I can get to know people better.” When you’re meeting new people, how they react to what you say will help you determine whether you have things in common.
- Pick up on their cues. What if your date says something like, “I don’t like to drink alone”? While your prospective partner doesn’t necessarily have to be sober themselves to fully support you, it’s important that you take note of their relationship to substances and determine if this is good for your position in recovery. If they’re not supportive, walk away.
If substances used to be your social lubricant, hopefully you’ve developed better coping skills during treatment to manage anxiety more effectively. So remember: you’re in control of who you see, how often you see them, and where you go.
Navigate Recovery Better With Help From Our Sacramento Team
From whole-person care to detailed relapse prevention plans, our goal at Fair Oaks is to ensure your sobriety success for life. If you’re ready for this type of strategy, talk to a member of our admissions team today.