Sometimes life is full of surprises, good ones.A few weeks ago,I had a wonderful surprise.A writer for Glamour.com contacted me about an article she was working on—sober dating.Glamour interested in sober dating!I was thrilled but not surprised that the concerns of women in recovery were being discovered by mainstream women’s media.You and I always knew it was only a matter of time, and that time has come!
It was a fun project that produced a terrific article, which I encourage you to read: Eight Amazing Thing You Learn from Sober Dating by Helaina Hovitz.
Here are the high points:
1. There are a ton of alternatives to grabbing drinks.Bring your creativity into play to find places conducive for getting to know someone.Search out juice bars with evening hours, a nearby park, a fun hike, an art exhibit, that new coffee house,or an ice cream shoppe—each can be a place to relax and be curious about the person you are with.The point of a date is getting to know someone, isn’t it? was Ruby’s thought when she decided the bar scene was no longer for her.
But you don’t have to feel you need to avoid alcohol at all costs. If you are comfortable being around alcohol,decide if you want to go to a restaurant and sit at a table, or even if you are comfortable sitting at the bar.Try ordering a mocktail, which is becoming increasingly trendy in many high-end bars, or even seltzer and lime. This will give you an opportunity to see how comfortable your date is with your choice of no alcohol, an important piece of information for you if this potential relationship is going to go anywhere.
2. It’s surprisingly easy to explain to someone why you’re not drinking.An initial safe bet may be to answer is that you’re not drinking because you’re trying to lose weight, even if you already look great.Women are plagued by girly thoughts—toxic thinking that tells us we aren’t good enough—that have us doing to ourselves what society does to us:finding fault with ourselves and trying to change as a result.So we are always feeling we need to lose weight—the #1 girly thoughts.Saying you’re on a diet will be well understood.
Or you can share that your choice is for health reasons: alcohol use is just tied to too many cancers, so you’re eating and drinking healthier. Just like avoiding wheat, sugar, or meat, cutting out alcohol can be a smart choice for your health.But if abstinence from alcohol is a long-term decision, you can just share that drinking makes you sick.That’s what Meaghan did.I realized I didn’t have to make up a story about my health. This was about my health!I was somehow belittling myself by not sharing this, and I was tired of doing that.I was tired of hiding that I had a problem with alcohol, so I just said I have alcoholism. And it was great!
3. You’ll waste less time on dates that aren’t going anywhere...Being sober changes many relationships, including intimate relationships. You may find you have less patience for dating those who want you to continue to party with them, or those who can’t relax without drinking. You may find yourself thinking things like, I can’t believe I thought this was fun … this is so boring … what did I ever see in him?You may also find, as Esme did, that once she got sober but the man she had been seeing continued to drink, he just didn’t taste or smell right.
4. ...And you’ll have fewer face-palm moments the morning after.Carolyn got tired of waking up in the morning and having no memory of what had happened the night before. In fact, I got really tired of not even remembering some of these guys’ names. I realized that I deserved better. Not remembering what happened when you are drinking is called blacking out. A blackout is when the part of your brain that stores recent memory doesn’t work well, and it’s scary. It’s also a serious problem. Consider if you want to live your life without remembering it.
5. When it comes to sex, you’ll be confident in a real way.For some women, an underlying driver of destructive drinking is their girly thoughts—an internal monologue that tells you it is more important to look good kissing than it is to enjoy kissing and feeling its magic spell—and that’s only the beginning.Getting sober helped Ava understand that part of why she was drinking too heavily was her shame of her body.If I was drunk enough,I wouldn’t worry if he saw a less-than-perfect buttock or too large breasts with their stretch marks, she shared.I stopped listening to my body-shaming girly thoughts!
So instead of drinking to try to quiet those girly thoughts, try telling them to get lost, and share them with your girlfriends so you can laugh at them together. You’ll find the freedom you give yourself and your partner to enjoy your body will lead to a very different and more fulfilling sexual experience.
6.You’ll know whether you’re actually ready to sleep with someone.Many times women have sex because they want to be nice, they want to be wanted, they want to make him happy—all girly thoughts.Or they are too intoxicated to make a decision based on what they want or what is best for them.After being sexually intimate to please someone else, Charlotte realized I wasn’t sexually satisfied, and part of this was because I had never asked myself if I wanted to be with him.He wanted to be with me, and I thought that was enough, but it wasn’t. Not drinking will help you understand if you want a relationship with someone instead of waking up in a relationship with him. It will also help you begin to understand what you want in general and when you are ready to act on what you want in many aspects of your life. Yes, you can take time to figure this out. This is your life, and you deserve to live it the way you would like to.
7.You’ll start recognizing what you actually want in bed.
Sobriety turned into a fun journey for Enid.I began to understand myself in so many ways, including sexually.In the past there were certain sexual positions I would avoid out of shame.They were too… well …revealing.I didn’t want him to see my flabby stomach with its stretch marks or my big bottom, so I avoided doing some things that would have been pleasurable to me, and I avoided asking for what would really turn me on.Now that I’m sober and not drinking away my shaming girly thoughts, I’m more in touch with my body and my sexual needs.Being sober allows me be to be more confident in many areas of my life, including sexually.It’s also translated into my being a better sexual partner as I am totally more engaged in a way that I never was when I was drinking way too much.
Begin to fantasize about what you would and would not like sexually.Remember, the courage that it took for you to not drink is the same courage you can use to be more tuned into your sexual needs and desires. Acknowledge your emerging inner strength and use it now, consciously, to bring more pleasure into your life.
8. Your newfound honesty will make your connections deeper.Isn’t that what you really want? Meaningful connections are made by being honest about what you understand and what you accept about who you are and who the man you have chosen is. Sobriety makes this possible because now you are making conscious choices, informed decisions, with a clear head that has room in it for you. This is very different that being so out of it that you just go along with whatever is happening without being able to consider if it was what you really want. Not only did I find this amazing man who gets me, but I get me,Elizabeth said with a smile.No more booze, no more blackouts, no more girly thoughts. I’m really liking the person I’m getting to know, finally!
Curious now?Try Sober Dating and see what a difference it can make in your life by changing who you choose, changing where you decide to get to know him, and changing what you decide to do together romantically.
Do you have a story about your girly thoughts you’d like to share?Contact me at www.patriciaogorman.com.
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Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, is a speaker and an internationally recognized psychologist in private practice in upstate New York. She is noted for her work with women, children of alcoholics, families, trauma, mental health, substance abuse, and child welfare. She is the author of nine books, including The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Powerand The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power. She is a regular blogger at The Powerful Woman.net and Counselor Magazine.com. Learn more at patriciaogorman.com