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Sober dating can be a delicate journey, filled with excitement and challenges. At Loosid, we understand that navigating romantic relationships while staying sober requires careful consideration. Understanding this can help build healthy, supportive relationships in recovery.

So you’ve started dating another person in recovery and it’s going well. Yay. You both speak the same language. You both have had restraining orders against you or at least arrests, DUI’S and/or grippy socks vacations. Nobody is judging the other person for their pasts because they’ve had the same consequences, made the same mistakes. That alone creates an instant ease, connection, intimacy if you will. And you’re both trying to evolve, get better.

Here’s the big question: Does a difference in sober time matter and if so how much? Well, there is a general consensus about this but as with everything there are exceptions and outliers. When you have years of sobriety and the person you’re dating is counting days, weeks, months, that’s called 13th stepping in the AA community. Listen, I’ve done it and I’ve had it done to me and it never ever worked out well. I got my heart broken. I relapsed over one guy. And I broke many a heart.

The thinking is that when somebody is really new to recovery, they can be fragile and needy and…I’ll be blunt… a little nuts. Not always, but sometimes. And I know when I was new, my neurotransmitters were still readjusting to not having a steady diet of Four Loko and cocaine so I was on the hunt for some dopamine. And I’ll tell you sex, love and people’s attention provided a LOT of dopamine. If you have time and you’re stable, it’s sort of a stacked deck, get it? You’re not fresh out of detox or still in sober living. You’ve got a job, a car, an apartment. But again if you’re convinced this person is your soulmate, far be it for me to keep you lovebirds apart.

Personally, after being burned and blowing up other people’s lives, whenever I’ve met someone I was attracted to who had…like 13 days…I made a hard left. It’s like dating somebody fresh out of a divorce. Don’t do it! They’re just trying to stay clean and sober for one more day. You’re living an examined life, working on emotional sobriety, helping other people, reading books by Rinpoche…that kind of stuff.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are assholes who have double digit sobriety and assholes who are brand new to sobriety. Time doesn’t always change people. It should. But it doesn’t.

I have over 11 years sober now and I met a guy who’s almost two years sober. Is it kosher to date him? Kosher or not, I’m doing it right now and it’s interesting and not at all what I expected. Add to the equation, I’m 10 years his senior. Sounds like a recipe for disaster or at least one where I’m the boss right? Wrong!

My first fear was, of course, that he was going to relapse. But I recognized that that’s exactly what normies fear when they date ME. Time is great but it’s hardly full proof protection from relapse. I’ve known dozens of people who’ve had 20 plus years and relapsed so I quickly tossed out that worry.

I also suggest you don’t use sober time as a weapon in fights. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve done it. “Oh you’re still a baby. Wait till your feelings find you, which they will. You’ll see….” Meanwhile I’m the one who’s totally inconsistent and unhinged. I’d also refrain from telling them to call their sponsor during a fight. To which he wrote back, “You first!”.

From that point on, we stayed in our own lanes, didn’t try to sponsor each other, didn’t take each other’s inventory…at least when it applied to a recovery program. (I mean for the love of God, please put the cap back on the toothpaste! Are you a heathen?)

People in their first couple of years of sobriety tend be on FIRE. They can be more plugged in, have a bunch of sponsees, hitting a ton of meetings, secretarying even more. I mean they HAVE to be. Their life depends on it. And sometimes when you have some time…ahem… you can get a little too comfortable and start to loaf a bit, thinking you got this thing down. Meetings? What are those? But dating somebody with less time who’s really in it, can be inspiring and shine a light on where you’re dropping the ball in your own program. At least that’s what I’m finding.

And we can go down to the courthouse together and fill out that paperwork to get your criminal records expunge, romantic stuff like that. I am free to be my full authentic self and who doesn’t want that? (I mean he’d probably like less of that but you know what I’m saying.)

Amy Dresner
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