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.