Dating While Sober

Many of us in the heart failure community cannot, or choose not, to drink. While some say that drinking in moderation is fine, there are others (like myself) whose blood pressure is so problematic that adding a depressant like alcohol does not work. Even if you choose to indulge a little, what is considered drinking in “moderation” is one drink for a woman and two for a man. So, any way you look at it, if you were someone who enjoyed hitting the town on a Saturday night, your options change when you have heart failure.

Alcohol's role

In our mainstream culture, it is common to have a drink with dinner or meet a friend for a drink. Clearly not drinking alcohol can be hard enough on its own. However, if you are someone who is dating, this can add an additional wrench. I write this because getting a drink remains a key part of dating for many people. So, the question is 'What is the best way to date while sober?' Like I have often said in my other posts, I am not an expert on these topics. My perspective comes from experience as a single 37-year-old woman with CHF (diagnosed at 35), who enjoyed an active, urban-living social life pre-diagnosis.

Assumptions and misconceptions

I have found that a few things can happen when I say that I do not drink. People often assume that I am uncomfortable around it and therefore they cannot drink. My explanation of this being a medical thing tends to make it more awkward, perhaps because they do not initially understand, and who would? When I Google “sober dating”, all search results are related to addiction recovery. While there is a tremendous amount to learn from individuals who are in recovery from alcohol dependency, I can imagine our experiences with dating and not drinking are different.

Sometimes when I say that I don’t drink it is assumed I am boring, yet this is not the case at all! There is still so much stigma and many misconceptions around this topic and I understand that too. Pre-diagnosis I would have likely had issues dating someone who didn’t drink because I enjoyed it on a weekend night, but my thoughts on this have rapidly changed.

Customizing your profile

Perhaps a different perspective is what we need! Per an article I recently read entitled, “The Right Way to Date and Drink, or Not Drink at All,” the topic of alcohol surfaces quicker in the dating world than other potential deal-breakers, like political beliefs, or relationship history. This article also acknowledged that the reality that modern dating often starts with an online profile.

So, how can we use this to our advantage? It is possible to take cues from a dating profile. Some platforms allow users to display their sentiments regarding alcohol, and you can filter based on that. Or, depending on how open you want to be, you can state in your profile that you do not drink. There are also sites like Lossid, Single and Sober, and Step Match exclusively for people who do not drink. A site like Hinge also allows you to set your preferences and filter people who do not drink.

Benefits of sober dating

There are also benefits of dating while sober. First of all, seeing how people respect boundaries says a lot about them. Those that have an issue may be less secure or less able to relax without a drink. Without alcohol, you can also focus on the experience and stay present. You do not have to think about mornings involving hangovers and things you might have said. If you are someone who used to drink too much, you do not have to worry about bad choices you may make in the setting of high alcohol intake.

Why waste time and energy?

What I have come to learn is that we must come to a point where we accept our limitations and our own truths. People often take the cues that we give out. If we handle our preferences in an appropriate way and are comfortable with ourselves and people still get awkward or take a pass, then they are not a good fit for us. Our diagnoses have probably made us realize how precious our time and energy are - I know it has for me. Why waste them on people who are not a good fit?

People who self-select themselves out might actually be making the process smoother. The reality is that our issues will not work for everyone - and that’s ok. Given what we have been through, do we want a partner who scares easily or is not kind? Personally, I tend to think that life is too short for that, and I want to spend mine in a happy, fulfilling, meaningful, partnership.

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