Monika is a reformed party girl, and Club Soda member, now practising as a hypnotherapist with a focus on addiction and dating confidence. She recently celebrated 400 days sober and delights in an alcohol-free life. This is the second blog in a series from Monika about dating as a mindful drinker – you can read the first, on using online dating sites sober here.
To tell or not to tell, that is the question.
So, you’ve gathered a handful of your best photographs and come up with a pitch worthy of an Oscar, but you’re stuck on one issue: whether to be upfront with potential suitors about your drinking status. The mere mention of a date will, after all, for many conjure up an image of two people nervously chatting over a glass of wine.
Will coming out with your drinking status affect your chances of finding yourself a date?
The answer is: it might. Like a former friend once told me (after I’d been sober for over eight months): “I would never go out with somebody who didn’t drink. I couldn’t trust them.”
Then, perhaps a person in this particular camp is not your target market?
If you’re ready to ‘come out’, how should you go about it?
For some, selecting the right profile images could be enough.
In my case, my ‘drinking era’ dating profile consisted almost exclusively of images of me with an array of exotic drinks. For there’s no denying it, prior to getting sober almost every experience where I looked suitably relaxed and happy involved alcohol, and this was the image pool I had to dip into. Therefore, it came as no surprise that the people I dated also preferred their drinks plentiful.
When I started dating again about three months into sobriety these pictures were the first to go, to be replaced with photographs of me engaged in sporty, outdoorsy endeavours. This in itself seemed to have an effect as I suddenly started receiving more messages from guys clad in lycra. And I’m not referring to ironic festival wear here either.
You could also consider another less in-your-face option: making your announcement via a box-ticking exercise. As per my previous D-word blog post from 21st October 2019, many sites now offer the opportunity to set your drinking status as e.g. ‘never’ or ‘occasionally’, allowing other daters to search on this basis.
The shop window
However, you may decide to go the whole hog and opt to write about your status in your blurb.
Which is what I decided to do by adding the following suitably breezy words into my shop window: “I’ve recently become alcohol-free and I’m loving my hangover-free life.”
Which, is why it was with a slightly disappointed sigh that I deleted the first message to arrive in my inbox: “You look like you’d be fun on a night out. Please say yes to a date. I’ll even buy you the first white wine!”. The perils of cut and paste.
The second potential suitor enquired: “Did you have a bit of a problem with the old alcohol, then?” I asked him how often he drank. He said he drank most days. I responded that I used to drink two to three times per week, but when it became almost daily I knew I needed to stop.
I didn’t hear from him again.
Trying & Testing
Finally, I set up a first date with a handsome banker. On the night he called me to say he was running early and could I meet him sooner? I said it would take me an hour to drive into town. “Drive? But you won’t be able to drink?” “Yes, I’m the one who doesn’t drink, remember?” “Ah, yes, of course, I did see that on your profile.” Upon arrival, he couldn’t have downed his three pints much faster. Though he mentioned an early morning meeting, I am pretty sure the upcoming meeting consisted of more drinks around the corner with some mates.
After a while, I started to get messages from other people exploring sober life. I turned up on these dates elated to be meeting a like-minded soul with whom I had this one important thing in common. Until it became clear that one after another these dates were still actively engaging in regular binge drinking sessions and were hoping to find a non-drinker who could help them break the pattern.
Over a period of several months and a dozen or so dates, I worked out that whilst it didn’t matter to me if somebody had the occasional glass of wine I never wanted to watch them get drunk. For one, I under no circumstance wanted to taste the alcohol they’d been imbibing, so any kissing would be out of the question until some serious oral care had taken place.
Discovering what YOU want
To cut a long dating story short: It took me some time to realise what it was that I would be happy with on the drinking front.
But once I’d worked this out I made sure to have a proper conversation prior to meeting up, something my former ‘throw caution to the wind’ drinking persona had always shunned in favour of just rushing to go out on a date.
We’d chat about the reasons for my sobriety. About how I was never going to go back to drinking (this being what most people seemed to be most curious about). About how it made me so very happy to have reclaimed my life. About how I’d like to find somebody who ‘got’ where I was coming from. And about the role alcohol took in their life.
This conversation in itself was enough to cut out those for whom the ideal Friday night involved a late-night Über home via a kebab stand, or for whom the idea of a 0.0% Peroni resulted in exclamations of “But I don’t see the point in it!”
For me, being upfront about my drinking is the same as telling people about my little boy or stating my age (43, for anybody who’s curious): at one point or other these facts will come out should I hit it off with somebody, so I might as well be honest about it from the beginning.
If you’re ready to try this approach out for size on your profile, but are struggling with what to write, what about nicking one of the following ideas:
Sober warrior seeks another.
Former party-girl/party-boy who’s found a new high in sobriety. (This was my personal favourite.)
Do you love waking up without hangovers? I do, and have done so for over X days/months/years, and I love it! Join me! (A little risqué maybe, but hey, we are talking about dating here, perhaps risqué is what you are looking for!)
I now choose to engage in a fully alcohol-free existence and have found that everything in my life has improved, from relationships to my bank balance.
I don’t drink (or drink only on occasion if you are moderating) and would love to meet up in a non-drinking environment.
Since I stopped drinking I have found so much more time to do the things that I like doing that I’ve never looked back.
Or perhaps you’ll opt for the now popular sober mantra: “Sober, not boring.”
As it has been for me, this is likely to be a journey of trial and error for you too. And that is, after all, what dating is all about. Drinking or sober not everyone will be your cup of tea.
Unless, perhaps like you, they’re teetotal too.
My next blog will explore ideas for sober dates. Until then: see you laters, daters!