Is Sobriety a DealBreaker?

I’m just going to say, before you read this post, I really struggled getting these thoughts out of my head and onto the page. This post may not actually make a lot of sense, but its on my mind and I did my best to articulate what I’ve been thinking.

During this most recent dating spree, I am finding more sober men than ever before. I have been so curious about this! It certainly wasn’t this obvious even a year ago, and suddenly it seems like 6 out of 10 men are sober.

At first I thought its because of the health craze sweeping our world. Everyone wants to have some form of healthy identity and the two most identifiable life choices are plant-based diets and the health benefits of no alcohol. However, for me at least, health as a life choice hasn’t been the defining reason the man has become sober. The men I have met are all recovering addicts. Maybe they have taken that to the next level and also become super health conscious as well, but the primary reason for sobriety has been addiction recovery.

Out of curiosity, I have done some reading of late around addiction recovery. Part of it was driven by the fact that I continue to encounter men in recovery and should learn more about it, part of it was wondering if all men in recovery have a sort of “strange quirkiness” I can’t quite put my finger on, and part of it is because a friend of mine spoke about people she is close to in recovery in an entirely different way than I had experienced.

My experience, while limited, has never been positive. Any man I know in recovery has some weird quirk to them (and these are all different, but all equally off-putting). One man was so self-absorbed in his sober journey he was unable to create normal relationships around him. Another spoke about the program on rotation, and related everything back to the program. Another seems to have replaced his alcohol addiction with an exercise addiction. Yet another wasn’t actually recovered at all and had to keep going back to the program. What is quirky about any of these men? Nothing I can put in writing, but there was “something” unidentifiable that was evident in each of them.

I suppose I could relate on some level, their addiction journey to my trauma. Has my trauma defined my life? Drew a line through it definitively at one point and changed me forever? Yes. Yes it has. Is recovery something like that? I think so. So, I do believe I have a slight understanding how something can alter the course of your life forever and create a new path forward, one you must stay on for a multitude of reasons – there’s no going back. And then, how that life altering experience generates an entirely different outlook on life.

So, based on the above, if I can somewhat relate to a transformative journey, why do I feel something so very different with a recovering alcoholic? Is it simply a reflection of how I feel? I like to drink and catch a buzz and shit does get funnier with me when I do- am I passing judgment on them that it can’t possibly be as fun for them? (In truth, it never feels as fun with them). Drinking and socializing around drinking is a real thing. So, ok, if I were to date you there may be less of that – I think I could live with that since I’m getting older anyway and its not a bad lifestyle choice to reduce alcohol consumption.

But thats hardly it. It just starts there. And the rest I can’t even put into writing. I simply cannot explain the weirdness I have met with the sober men.

I went on date Saturday night with a man named Tim. There’s not much to write about the date itself, but he is the reason for this post as he is sober. 10 years recovering. For the first time, I met someone who was recovering that was actually funny! Maybe not belly laugh funny right away, but he had a good sense of humor and kept thing light and interesting. That was nice change. We were not a match for a few different reasons, but I was unsure (in his case) how much of that was down to sobriety. Tim was sort of attractive, tall, well-employed, interested and interesting. Started off pretty good. He asked a lot of questions. We were aligned on how trauma can help make you realize how good it feels to help others through their own personal traumas and most times is even good therapy for yourself. He looked pretty haggard as many do when they come out of years of alcoholism, but that wasn’t really bothering me as much as I just noticed it. His body language was off, he had a hard time determining what to do with his hands and body – and later said it was because I was so physically distracting. He was polite. Not a whole lot wrong on the surface, but my red flags were that he was going through his second divorce and had a strange living situation with the soon-to-be-x. Both his wives cheated on him and he didn’t really know why. He was very direct and transparent about anything we spoke about, and often got lost in his story before he realize the might have gone to far for a first date. Some of these things could have been pushed to the side and perhaps explored further in a second date, but I couldn’t get past a feeling of discomfort with his for no apparent reason. He had a weirdness to him I could’t identify.

He asked me out again at the end of the date and I said I would like to think it over. And I did think abut it, almost thinking I should go on a second date to explore what was off-putting a bit further. Ultimately, I wrote to him this morning to say I just didn’t think we were the right match and he wrote a great reply back:

Hi M: Thanks for your candor and kindness. I too agree with your assessment, though I will confess that part f my distractedness (you’re a great body language reader) was imagining us in an intimate situation. You’re stunningly attractive. Stay Well.

Normally I don’t reply to a follow-up text but in this case I did and we have agreed to stay in touch and he subsequently offered help with my job search as he is a sales coach. He is kind and generous but there were things about him I couldn’t put my finger on and I decided to listen to my gut for once.

Ultimately, Tim is the reason I began to debate with myself if sobriety is an actual deal breaker for me or no? I don’t have the answer to that except I wouldn’t eliminate someone based on sobriety as I had done in the past.

A close friend debated this angle with me for some time as her close experience with sobriety is that people who go through the program become much more selfless and are concerned more about the care of others than they are for themselves. A man who worked the program successfully would be a kind, caring and attentive partner. This friend also knew Tim though work channels and thought he was a really nice guy.

Which brought up a whole host of other questions from her as well as other friends: why can’t a nice man be enough for me?

Well, that’s the question of the century now isn’t it?

Just as a side note: in my reading I came across this article n the NYT. I thought its funny how people equate the drinking to being fun and the activities offered at some bars that might give you the high of a buzz without the alcohol. While all of this sounds fun, it totally misses the point of MY reflection on sobriety. Of course I can do all these things without alcohol and have a shit ton of fun, and really hope anyone I am with can do the same without alcohol. It feels like two totally separate things to me – going out to socialize with alcohol and sometimes what that brings, and going out to socialize if you didn’t have alcohol. I don’t feel the need to replace the buzz of alcohol with high intensity activities at a bar when I am out – I would happily participate because they are fun activities and I would get a rush from the fun. For me it simply goes back to “are you fun or not?” If you are, you can get a high from fun without drugs and alcohol, but it doesn’t mean you don’t ALSO (perhaps) want the high from substances.

I read the article and fund it interesting.

Author: Madeline Harper

My journey through divorce and an emotional and sexual reawakening. Love, laughter, friendships, family and heartbreak included. And there is sex, lots of it, so close your eyes and turn the page if that's not for you! While I started this blog as an endeavor to journal my thoughts and feelings in an attempt to better understand myself, it has become an amazing platform from which I have met some of the most interesting and wonderful people in my life. My path is often crooked, but I hope you will share in the journey with me.

7 thoughts on “Is Sobriety a DealBreaker?”

  1. My personal bias – I agree. There is just something in an addictive personality (drugs, alcohol) that is off-putting to me even if they have been in recovery long term. A whiff of self-centeredness with impulsiveness perhaps? I don’t know but I do know it doesn’t work for me. You aren’t alone 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m certain now after multiple tries and when I answered KDaddy today I realized I was articulating my thoughts incorrectly.

      The men I’ve met who are recovering are odd, plain and simple. I’ve had enough of a sample size now to make this determination relatively definitively that I need to continue to eliminate recovering addicts. Maybe someone who chooses no alcohol for health reasons is still an option, but not recovering alcoholics.

      I’ve proven the theory through enough dates that I don’t want to waste more time. 💕


  2. Recovering addicts – the successful ones – have gone to hell and back with their addiction while traveling a rough road to recovery; it’s a life-altering series of events that just might make them quite quirky, more introspective, a bit of a party-pooper, other stuff that could be a deal-breaker while, I guess, overshadowing the fact that they beat their addiction.

    A couple of things, if I may? One is in the form of a song heard a long time ago – “We don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time…” and a bit of a mantra for a lot of folks and another song entitled, “Natural High” which hinted at saying someone doesn’t have to get all cronked or otherwise messed up (drug, booze) to feel good, have a good time, etc.. Since booze is a CNS depressant, it can either bring out the “best” in some people by removing their inhibitions… or it can bring out the worst in people or, as you may have heard, a drunk person ain’t lying or you get to see the real person when they’re high, drunk, totally fucked up, etc..

    In moderation, it’s no big deal but when you take it overboard – and there are a ton of reasons for overdoing it, it presents a lot of problems, reveals destructive behaviors and few people want to be around someone who stays fucked up pretty much all of the time and more so when their intoxicant of choice has the tendency to alter personalities, thinking patterns and other behaviors.

    I rarely drink – the alcoholic “gene” seems to run on the paternal side of my family and their addiction to booze – and how it really messed up their lives – was both a warning sign and a great object lesson for me. I might have one socially – if I”m not the designated driver (and I usually am) but when you’ve seen what that kind of addiction does to people, you avoid it like the plague… and those who succumb to addiction, well, which thing is really worse: That they were once addicted… or that they no longer are?

    Some recovered addicts do become self-centered and, perhaps, overly so and some point to becoming addicted as being a selfish act on their part and being unconcerned about the impacts on themselves and those around them. They’re made to focus on themselves to see themselves how others see them then, hopefully, correct their behaviors so that they can be a better person to themselves and even socially… and, yeah, they can probably be some very dull people to date and more so if going to a bar or anywhere alcohol is being served presents a risk to them where their recovery is concerned.

    It’s a lesson in moderation and if one never learns that lesson, you either become addicted to something or you just stay away from that which is potentially addictive. Personally? I’d rather date a teetotaler than to date someone who, say, the bartender is on a first-name basis with and they know what that person is drinking without being told. If ya like to get a little buzzed, okay, I get it and it’s not necessarily a deal breaker but I’ll point to that date you wrote about where you admitted to having a bit too much to drink and the outcome of that date wasn’t all that great… and that’s a deal-breaker for me more than not drinking is.

    In the end, I guess it comes down to personal preference and what an individual feels is necessary for them to have a good time and, yeah, one can have a great time without getting buzzed. I know a few recovering addicts and they’ve told me that it’s not easy for them to be in situations that could, potentially, undo their recovery and I’ve seen them behave… weirdly – but, then again, I think I understand why they’re “weird.” Deal breaker? Depends on how you wanna look at it, huh? It’s just me but someone who has beaten an addiction gets more props because of what it takes to do that – and then more props to be able to resist the temptations going forward.

    Just me but I’d be more worried about someone who was on the wagon… and then fell off again – that’s the person I’d never date.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Not to dismiss the fact that a recovering addict has gone to hell and back but I think my point is that whatever created the addict in the first place is what ultimately causes the quirkiness I’ve experienced.

      I appreciate your reply but it’s still off the mark for what I’m attempting to express. It’s not about behavior while drinking, it’s about the socializing while drinking and it is different when someone can’t or doesn’t drink. It’s not about people who have bad behavior while drinking. The outcome of my dates where I drink too much are still based in my poor decision making abilities (with or without alcohol). I get uninhibited and sexual when alcohol
      Is added and I want to have sex. But because I’m not an addict, I realize I want to (not have to) curtail that behavior. and it’s not something anyone would know about if they went on a date or two with me (but you have the full view of me, so you can include that in your thought process, I get it – but other people don’t)

      I guess what I’m saying is – what I have done personally in relation to making and choices with alcohol – well, I can stop and no one would be the wiser. Addicts cannot stop and when they do, it seems weird – their wiring goes haywire.

      I see that as a very very big difference in what makes a dealbreaker. My behavior won’t continue by simple choice. It’s not simple for an addict.

      I do give them props for beating an addiction but that wasn’t what I’m trying to articulate. Behavior is behavior and The ones I’ve met are strange – that’s the bottom
      Line. My curiosity is around – are all sober people quirky? If so, why? And why have the ones I met so damn dull if having fun isn’t somehow related to the ABILITY To socialize with alcohol? I think I finally articulated what I was struggling with.

      If a recovering addict can have fun without a drink, why haven’t the ones I met any fun In simple conversation? Why are they are quirky in a way I can’t describe?

      It’s not having alcohol at that point in time, it’s got to be a psychological thing.


  3. Of course it’s gonna be different! During their recovery, it gets pounded into their heads to change the way they’ve always done a lot of things and that includes social interactions; they are warned to “stay away” from social situations that just might get them to fall off the wagon and wind up starting their recovery all over again… and while that kinda makes sense, it impacts how they can be social with other. True enough, some recovering addicts can get back to being social and the life of any party without fear of relapse… and many just can’t and it makes them more socially awkward than they were when they were caught in the grips of their addiction.

    And it is psychological. They wind up getting their brains rewired twice – once on the path of their addiction and again when recovering from it. I’ve never been an addict and I’m usually and generally sober… but I’m a ton of fun to be around and, yep, I’ve always been quirky but not, I think, in a weird kind of way. One has to learn how to have big time fun without any “help” from booze; some can, some can’t. If you understand how alcohol affects the brain – again, it removes inhibitions big time – then, sure – someone who drinks is usually uninhibited but someone who doesn’t – or who is trying not to go back to drinking – is going to be inhibited; dull, boring, weirdly quirky unless they manage to learn or relearn how to have big time fun even in their sobriety.

    But is their sobriety a deal-breaker? Rains on your parade when you’re making the people who make prosecco happy and being nice and uninhibited? I can see why it would be. I’m just saying that I understand why they’re quirky and in ways you can’t describe and suggesting that their quirkiness may not necessarily be a deal breaker if you can understand what it takes for them to sit in a bar and being surrounded by the very thing that damned near ruined their life and the inner strength required to not relapse… and, yup, it’ll make them quirky.

    Hell, Madeline: A lot of my friends and family who drink when they socialize think I’m quirky because I usually don’t drink with them or I’ll stop at one or two drinks. I could spend a night just sitting and watching you drink and never touch a drop myself and still be very social… because I do know how to have fun without it and more so since I’ve never had much in the way of inhibitions to begin with. Would that be a deal breaker if I were to ask you out on a date? And if I’m being engaging and all that, would it really matter if during our date, I didn’t have anything stronger than ginger ale?

    I would say that if you think I’m fun when I’m totally sober, I’m even more fun with a drink or two in me but at the end of any day, it’s a choice and given my family history with alcohol addiction (and it ain’t pretty) the onus upon me is to be social – and highly so – just by personality alone and I’m just as quirky as anyone else can be.

    But that’s me, right? Not everyone is able to be so social without some hair of the dog and recovering addicts have the hardest time readjusting. Now the question is can you adjust to this situation? How much quirky is too much for you?

    Liked by 1 person

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