I love being single, but I don’t love dating. The only good I’ve derived from dating is an end to writer’s block.
Ok, all the personal growth has been pretty nice. Every time I meet I knew a new guy, I learn more about myself. Whether I like it or not.
For example, it was two years ago when this single journey began and I wrote this blog deliberating whether or not to tell a date I don’t drink alcohol. It was such a conundrum, I went on to write more….This one, and then this!
I wonder if I owe all these guys some royalties.
Just kidding! You think I get paid to do this?!
Despite my public recovery, I was terrified to tell a date. I even created a separate non-recovery oriented Instagram to show them. I don’t know how I thought we would get past a first date, but that’s what shame does; creates secrets and fear. It tells us we don’t deserve to be ourselves or make mistakes. It tells us we’re unloveable.
Today I know better. Why bother meeting a guy if I’m not honest? If sobriety doesn’t resonate with his lifestyle, then I need to know right away. He’s not for me.
So I divulge it right up front. My online dating profile states: “I have an alcohol free lifestyle”.
The question I still grapple with is: “Do I only date sober guys?” I’m not sure that’s a hard and fast rule, so I’m trying to find a balanced approach, asking myself: “Does my date understand and/or agree with my perspective? Am I making choices that align with my values? Will my decisions today enhance or inhibit my sobriety? Does this potential partner define sobriety and recovery the same way I do?”
After all it’s not whether the guy is “sober” that matters….how he interprets sobriety makes all the difference.
Webster’s defines “Sober” as not intoxicated or addicted to alcohol. General consensus broadens this to include abstinence from all mind altering substances. But subcategories exist and we need to acknowledge them. It’s not realistic or useful to hold everyone to the same requirements.
Refraining from all intoxicating substances is the gold standard, especially according to 12 step programs. But there’s compelling evidence supporting the role of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Stigma prevents widespread approval, but even skeptics acknowledge its benefit as harm reduction at the least.
Harm reduction is considered an acceptable alternative within many recovery communities, if only as a step towards renunciation. “Harm reduction” …seek(s) to reduce harm associated with drug use and ineffective, radicalized drug policies. Meaning some people can use certain substances under certain circumstances, only if it there are decreased consequences.
The booming popularity of CBD and hemp products is an example of this. As legalization expands and the public’s stance is increasingly casual, it’s not uncommon to hear qualifiers to sobriety such as “I’m sober EXCEPT for…” or “I’m sober from alcohol, but..I use A, B or C.”
That’s cool. I’m no puritan, and certainly in no place to throw stones; my glass house is made of Suboxone, one of the prescriptions utilized in MAT. I’m not qualified or interested in defining anyone else’s pathway or establishing their boundaries.
Buuuutttt….. it’s blatantly clear I need to define and establish my own, particularly as I search for a partner. If I don’t, I could be well on my way to adding my own caveats. Making exceptions to my rule of avoiding mind altering substances, it’s a short distance from “I’m sober but I do edibles” to “I’m sober but I drink on holidays” and eventually, “Who me? Nah, I’m not sober.”