As a sober alcoholic looking for love, the modern dating world has been super understanding and extremely cool about it. Yeah, nah.



“Hello, I’m Sal and I’m an alcoholic – a sober one – It’s been a close to seven years since I’ve been off the lash, nose beers and the like. Aside from that, I’m relatively normal. I enjoy writing, painting, and surfing. I vote, I pay taxes, and I am seeking a relatively woke bloke to stroll along the beach with, split bills and perhaps make a baby with.”

This is me trying to write my online dating bio – too much?

Unfortunately, I’ve got this weird, antiquated value around honesty and dating. 

The thing is, this facet of my existence – my addiction – will generally come out with someone I build a meaningful connection with. Usually, once someone gets to know me, they tend not to give a rat’s arse about me being sober – I’m just Sal who happens not to drink. 

Unfortunately, some tend to see it as either a tremendous flaw, liability and/or ‘drama’ – something too hard to look past; an opportunity to tell me all their problems and then ghost; just too confronting, heavy and awkward, or a bit of a buzz kill.

It tends to consider altering the bios on dating apps in terms of self-representation. Do I just lie about the shame ciggies, or the fact I don’t drink; or do I just turn up at a trendy wine bar, order a Diet Coke and take my chances?

Will the right person just accept me as I am?  Not thus far.

I once arrived at a Bumble date with a dude (whom I’d been up-front with about height, weight, smoking, and sobriety) to find that the photos he’d used were 10-15 years old, he was two feet shorter than advertised and on ice.

Given my own history, of course, I was compassionate toward the guy’s problems, but I didn’t stick around to stage his intervention.

As Robert Downey Jr. stated so eloquently, “I don’t drink these days. I am allergic to alcohol and narcotics – I break out in handcuffs.”

The frustrating thing is, my lack of participation in the dark arts seems to bum most people out. My cigarette smoking is almost my white flag to the revelers: “Brothers! I’m not a narc!” 

I caught up with a dear male friend recently, and he asked about my love life and lack thereof.

He encouraged me to keep putting myself out there etc. He empathised about the whole sober thing and said: “Yeah, that’s hard – I’d actually find it really difficult to be with someone who doesn’t drink.”

This friend is not an alcoholic or a problematic drinker/user; he can party with the best of them, but definitely has his shit together. His fiancé drinks but not often, but at least they’ve got the option to have a wine together.


I once arrived at a Bumble date with a dude (whom I’d been up-front with about height, weight, smoking, and sobriety) to find that the photos he’d used were 10-15 years old, he was two feet shorter than advertised and on ice.


That conversation was yet another, sobering experience for me. 

I reflected on drinkers that I’ve dated whilst sober. One had an alcoholic relative, who had been hard for him to watch, he said he’d worry about the prospect of me relapsing one day. The other loved going to vineyards and having boozy Sunday sessions.

Both men said they really value being able to sit and have a drink with their partners. Neither of them inferred that it would be good if I drank with them. I respected both their stances and walked away. Being close to an alcoholic in active addiction is traumatic, but I do admit getting a bit buzzed with your beloved is bloody lovely. I hold no grudge toward either of them. 

Then there’s the gallant gentleman of Tinder, all whom I told I was doing Dry July (back when I wasn’t comfortable talking about my sobriety, and thank fuck it was July) Three of them asked me to reschedule our dates for August so “we can have a good time.” It shames me to say that sometimes I’ve considered social drinking (which I am incapable of) in order to re-enter the dating world as a ‘normal’ person.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know that there are quaint ways to date booze-free. The hike, the run, the art gallery. After all, the boozeless dates are often awesome as you get to meet a person in the cold light of day; she writes, feigning enthusiasm.

Alas, the inevitable question comes up: Why don’t you drink? My answer: How honest would you like me to be? 

I have zero interest in wasting anyone’s time or lying to them and I fully acknowledge that dating someone in recovery comes with its challenges – but it’s highly unlikely anyone dates anyone with zero issues.

I love that there are sober social movements like Hello Sunday Morning entering the mainstream, I know for a fact that people who are abstinent for reasons other than addiction face the same quagmire in dating land.

While sobriety is still considered weird in 2020, it is certainly preferable to other vintages on the shelf. Shout out to the 2013 Tinder guy with the unexplained ferrets, and the 2019 Bumble faux-lawyer who spent the date quoting Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Dum. Dum.




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