Sober Dating? How on Earth Do I Master Relationships?

sober dating couple at park

Life as a single sober person can be difficult.  And sober dating? Fellowship meetings are not social clubs, and I tend to focus on recovery and helping others while there. So it’s difficult to meet someone (although it does happen). I am also acutely aware that many of my fellows share stories of partners who have come through their journey with themTheir partners support and help them to find sobriety.


Sober Dating …

But, this was not to be my journey and some years into my recovery, I find myself very much a single woman. Whilst I embrace not being in a relationship just now, I also know it would be lovely to meet someone. And when I am ready, my dilemma will be how on earth do I go about dating in sobriety?  


The conventional ways of meeting a partner are at social events that no longer appeal to me. I don’t go on big nights out any more, never mind going to pubs or going dancing. If I am out with friends, their company is my priority. So I am not scanning the room looking to see who is there and eligible!


Online sober dating is not for me, as rejection rates are high. And that can lead to anxiety and self doubt, both of which are big characteristics I have to manage within my recovery.


Then there is also the pressure of where do you meet an online date? The pub? Not really my place of choice any more – and even worse what if they turn out to be a big drinker? 


Alcohol as Dating Courage …

In my past, alcohol would give me the courage to talk and flirt. And additionally, the confidence to bat off the ones I wasn’t interested in. In fact I met my ex husband whilst I was very drunk in a nightclub. And subsequent dates were held in a pub. (Of course I had to have a few drinks before meeting him again.)


I’m not sure now if I ever made good relationship choices. Or if I did, they always turned out to be bad. My drunken choices tended to be reactive – fine for short-term, but not so great long-term. Then I would face regret and fear and the prospect of rejection or rejecting.


I don’t believe I ever considered how I actually felt or let a relationship grow organically. It all had to happen NOW or not at all.


Now if I do come across an attractive guy, I tend to fumble about – awkward around him. And making embarrassing comments until I find out his relationship status. My nerves can get the better of me and I stumble across my words. Do I scare him off by being too direct? Or does he just think I’m a bit weird? My actions relate to feeling like a teenager, which is probably how old I am in sobriety terms. As such, I am totally unsure of myself or how I come across to others.


biking while sober dating

Sober Dating – Learning the Difference Between Like and LIKE

Another struggle I have is the fine line between like and LIKE. And thus the impression I give to others about how I feel. But how can I show my feelings when I haven’t a clue myself how I am feeling? .


My childhood was predominantly surrounded by men (brothers, male cousins, uncles etc) so I am very comfortable in the company of men. In fact, I’m probably more comfortable than when surrounded by females. I am tactile and caring, and this can be misunderstood by a man who was not brought up in the same way. So I am learning to be careful of how I handle my body language, until I am clear on the emotional boundaries.

The Fickle Finger of Sober Dating

I have to find a way to be aware of how I might feel about someone. Initially I can be attracted, but soon come to realize that the feeling is actually friendship and not something more.  It is OK to care about a person, but not want a romantic relationship – who knew?!!


Just for today I have to accept my lot in life. I am where I am for a very good reason and the reason will soon become clear. I have to heal my heart before I can let anyone else near it. Only then, will the prospect of a future relationship make perfect sense. And sober dating will be another pleasurable component of my recovery.




Nicola Lee

Nicola Lee had it all - a successful career, 2 children, marriage, car, house... She found herself at alcoholic rock bottom on the 5th December 2015. Nicola says, "After some time in sobriety, I decided to write down my journey through recovery and finding a way to live happily and sober. By writing my truth I hope to dispel some of the myths around what defines an alcoholic." Nicola Lee lives in Hampshire, England. She writes a blog at called 365 'Days a Year' and also writes for the Huffington Post UK.