The prospect of dating as a recovering addict is daunting. In the past you relied on drugs or alcohol so much that meeting and getting to know someone while sober must feel like a foreign experience. You might lack confidence when you’re sober or worry that no one will want to get to know you if they realize you are in recovery. Online dating is a popular way to meet people and you can take advantage of it, too. It’s scary, but you shouldn’t let your fear stand in the way of finding a meaningful and loving relationship. Here are some tips to help you as you begin your online dating journey.
- Be honest. It is never appropriate to lie on your online dating profile. If you want to meet someone and have a real relationship, you absolutely cannot lie. This doesn’t mean you have to tell your life story. You will probably hover over the “How much do you drink?” question on the form, debating what to put. Will checking the “never” box label you as a recovering addict and turn people off? Should you leave it blank and mysterious? Be honest. You don’t drink, and if that’s a problem for a potential dater, that is not the right person for you.
- Stay out of bars. This seems like a no-brainer. Even if you are comfortable around alcohol, set you first dates at least for non-alcoholic locations. This means you won’t have to talk about your sobriety immediately. You can give your date a chance to get to know you in other ways without addiction being the center of your being. A coffee shop, a walk in the park or a lunch date are perfect settings for a first meeting.
- Talk about recovery when the time is right. If you like your date and you see potential there, you do need to bring up your sobriety sooner rather than later. When the time feels right, after you have both gotten to know each other a little bit, talk about the fact that you don’t drink and why. Be open and willing to answer questions. If you really have a future with this person, he or she will listen and be compassionate. The time should be right after a few dates, by the way, not after a few months.
- Be prepared for rejection. Dating comes with rejection. There is no way around it. While you were using, you may not even have noticed rejection, but now that you are sober it will be painfully crystal clear when someone just isn’t interested. Try not to take it personally, and learn how to move on to the next date. That next one could be the right one.
- Be yourself. To get what you want and what you need, you have to be yourself. If you try to be what you think other daters want, you will never be happy. Always being true to yourself will mean more rejection. The real you isn’t right for everyone, but that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. It just means you have to look harder for the right one.
Meeting someone in a bar or a club is a terrible idea. Online dating will allow you to get to know a lot of people and weed through those that just aren’t right for you. Almost one-third of Americans now meet their spouses online.