The Realities Of Dating During Sober October
The Debrief: You've almost survived Sober October - but how do you date when you're not drinking?
Holy shitballs it's nearly the end of October which means all you Sober Octoberists out there are nearly done. Hats off and super-creds to all of you. You deserve a trophy shaped like a Magnum of Cristal that is actually a Magnum of Cristal - the last time I was sober for a month I was in training bras, goddamnit, so I salute you.
I'm sure you're feeling pretty energetic after a month of undisrupted sleep, no hangovers and no Sunday morning panic attacks waking up fully clothed, head down in a pizza box. You've had time to read, knit and reassess your life. But the question for all of you sober singles out there is - are you now so horny that if you touched yourself within a mile radius of another human your screams would give them lifelong tinnitus?
I can imagine the answer might be yes. Alcohol is known to severely decrease sex drive and if you're replacing the sauce with exercise your libido will have sky rocketed - all that improved circulation pumping blood to the good bits.
But if you're single or a serial Three Date Doris, where the hell are you going to find an inhibition-destroyer and sexytime catalyst quite like a full bodied Argentinian Malbec? Answer is: unless you are eliminating one vice at a time and still courting Class A's, you're probably not going to find one.
Unless you are a super-confident sex machine or nymphomaniac, promiscuity ain't really on the cards. It could well be after eight years of meditative practice about self-love and esteem in an Indian commune but realistically you won't get there in 31 days.
Embrace that realistically we're more likely to want to lay some groundwork when sober: get to know someone, establish an element of trust - like in the salad days when holding hands was fun.
Sober October is a great time to get used to doing that again; all the nice innocent childlike stuff that intensifies the gagging-for-it factor. Use the month to flit around being a shiny little firefly cocktease and form logical decisions about who you want to be inside you. Strawpedoeing a box of rose and passing out at the helm mid dribbly gob-job is sooo September darling. November, of course, is sampling your researched catalogue with the help of a sensible amount of red wine and lingerie bought with the money you saved in October.
Sober dating can, however, present quite the challenge even though it makes a shit tonne of sense. After all, if you are looking for someone with whom you can sit on an isolated, shooting the breeze stone-cold and still feel giddy and excited, why are you interviewing the hyped-up drunk version? Madness, but nevertheless the way our society works.
We had a wee chat with the expert tee-totallers who offered great tips that if you don't use in the next few days, you can print off and keep for Dry January.
1. Chillax your mind, dude
For most of us, the fears are nerves, awkwardness and that if we find them boring we'd be too embarrassed to leave. Recovering Alcoholic Patricia, 33 says 'When I first came out on the dating scene sober, I would use techniques from other nerve-wracking situations in life that had never involved alcohol. Interviews for example. Breathing and gathering yourself prior to the meeting, addressing your anxieties head-on and then countering them, creating an inner dialogue.
Q: "There's no need to be nervous. What's the worst that can happen?"
A: "Potentially a few awkward silences which will be over very quickly. Plus I know I won't get totally rat-arsed and find myself in a borderline rape situation - which is nice." '
2. Plan ahead
Margot, 35: 'I find it useful to always plan a few topics of conversation to subtly throw into conversation just in case there is awkward silence. Without alcohol those moments are slightly more painful so I found it necessary to build up the ability to swoop in and fill the gap with my pre-prep to make the date run smoother. Over time, I have also learnt how to gracefully leave when I'm just not feeling it. It's just a case of being very breezy, very smiley and very much like you've just had a chat with an old friend but have to get on with your very busy life.'
Lifelong tee-totaller Ruby, 29: 'Channel confidence and a Que Sera Sera attitude. I can confirm you DO NOT need alcohol to do this, just a simple set of reminders:
Reminder 1: Your date thinks you're fit on your photos, love. You're 90 percent there already.....unless you sound like Frank Butcher which will always be a shock for anybody.
Reminder 2: A list of the qualities your friends and family love about you
Reminder 3: That the whole dating process is about finding someone who impresses you, not for you to prove yourself.
Reminder 4: If it's meant to be it will feel natural, booze or no booze.'
4. Coffee Dates
Recovering alcoholic, Maxie, 32, said 'I started dating again after six months sober and it was actually really easy. I had built it up in my head to be so much worse than it was. I forgot that people tend to do coffee dates loads these days which makes so much more sense because the time window is shorter. It doesn't take long to figure out if there's a click. Without booze dating becomes looking for a mate rather than finding a mediocre drinking buddy. On Saturdays and Sundays you can be a total coffee slut. Just make sure you're on decaf.'
5. Fair Warning
If it is an evening date and you've agreed to meet in a watering hole, warn the poor bastard before you go! Sober dating confuses the non-sober. Sally (name changed), 25 is a good example of one who needed said warning: 'It was a first date, he said let's meet for drink and then said he wasn't drinking. I still did. Alone. Which made me feel like a little alky. On goodbye he pushed me up against the tube wall and literally ate my face. SOBER! I mean, it would have made sense if he was battered but he was on diet coke. I concluded he must have a screw loose and never saw him again. Until three months later when my date count was thin on the ground. He still wasn't drinking and tried to spank me over his kitchen table. SOBER. I let him because I was a bit desperate but then I really didn't see him again.' *
Obviously this is an extreme example but the point still stands, nonetheless. Throw it into a text in advance, if he's organising the date he might tailor it slightly differently.. which will give you clues as to how thoughtful he is anyway. Win.
And now for a little uplifting anecdote to finish...
Lena, 28, Accountant, 'I went on a date with a Sober Octoberist last week. It was weird at first but mainly as I wasn't as confident as he was. As we eased into conversation, though, it wasn't that difficult at all. I was able to get to know him much better without wine glazing over my judgement. We have another date set up later this week, which again will be sober and I'm actually really extremely excited about it because we covered such vast subject area last time, which I actually REMEMBER I feel we know each other quite well for it to be really easy next time.'
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