Dating a recovering alcoholic (me)

I"ve just recently passed my 9th month of sobriety without any type of a relationship with a woman. This has been self-imposed mainly because I’ve just wanted to concentrate on getting my shit together. Originally I wanted to make the 1 year mark before getting back into the dating game but I’m … um, missing female companionship. And plus I feel confident enough in my sobriety to add another variable to my life now.

A few questions before I take the online plunge:

I want to be completely honest when filling out my profile, warts and all. Is mentioning being an alcoholic a bad idea? How about being divorced twice due at least in part to said drinking?

A few facts about me: I’m 46 and own my own home. I’ve been working for the same company for 19 years ( somehow I managed to keep my job ). I have one daughter who is a sophomore in college and doing well. ( she told me recently that she likes me a lot better now). :frowning: I’m working on my relationship with her also.

In short life is pretty darn good for me right now and some of these facts would probably look good to a potential girlfriend.
So am I going to seriously limit potential mates by stating right off that I’m an recovering alcoholic or should I omit that little detail and bring it up later after she inevitably falls for my devastating good looks and awesome personality?

Mmm. I won’t lie and say it isn’t a factor.

Frankly, if it were in the profile, I wouldn’t respond. But if I found out later, I’d be a little pissed. So personally, I’d tell you to tell them in the first few (not first, not tenth) e-mails.

I don’t know that you need to shove it in their faces to start with. It is a factor, but no more so than if you had had herpes (for example).

I wouldn’t hide it, but I can’t see any positives about advertising it either.

Congratulations on your sobriety. I would not mention it in your profile or by email, because it’s too personal. If you go out with someone a few times and are getting along well, then it’s time to tell.

Ask your sponsor about it.

Quite frankly, my family runs to the teetotal side of things, so my comfort with social drinking is not high, and my exposure to those who drink irresponsively is limited to college-age idiots.

So I’d think nothing of you not ordering a drink on a date, but I’d be nervous about getting involved with you in the first place.

But I agree with Zsofia, somewhere between that first e-mail and the tenth is probably where the disclosure ought to go.

I wouldn’t make a big deal about it before the first date, and maybe not for the first few dates. If she notices that you’re not drinking and she says something, address it then. But, to me, nothing screams “creepy and narcissistic” more loudly than making a big deal about being a recovering alcoholic, especially before a relationship has the chance to develop past casual dating.

bbs2k is right – if you haven’t discussed this with your sponsor, that’s your first step. So to speak.

Make sure you check “never” for the “do you drink/take drugs” questions – there is always one – in the profile. Beyond that, as MsRobyn says, answer any questions asked about it honestly, but don’t bring it up. You may be astonished to learn that people often don’t ask, and if they do ask, they don’t care. Normies don’t obsess about how much anyone is drinking, including the person they’re out on a date with. That’s what makes them normies.

twicks, sober 24 years and still dating, at least occasionally

“Normies” - I like that!

While I would make a point of mentioning that you don’t drink, I’d leave it at that.

Please, no talking about previous failed relationships, regardless of the reason for the failure.
If someone asks, fine. But don’t throw it out there in the first five minutes.

There is a fine line between TMI and hiding info.

And good luck!

Thinking about things more, I’m not sure you need to be thinking about dating in terms of Relationships yet. Rather, think of dating as a way people entertain themselves in pairs.

Certainly anyone you are involved with for the long term should know your past. And avoiding doing stuff with folks whose idea of entertainment revolves around alcohol only makes sense, subject to the same caveats as before.

But you don’t have to list all your flaws and your past history upfront–most of us have some significant red flags/mistakes we’d like to think we’ve moved past. On the other hand, don’t lie–especially about something that will inevitably be discovered anyway.

Just, for a first date, determining whether you and your proposed companion would be happier at a chick flick or a popcorn movie or a future Acadamy Award winning movie is a lot more important than making sure she knows you’ve got two failed marriages because you drank too much.

[This is advice I really ought to take myself–the purpose of dating is not to screen future spouses, it’s to get to know people better one on one (and if that leads to finding a spouse, great, or finding out that someone is not a good match, ok, but just getting out there and having fun is ok too, so long as everyone plays by the same rules].

The red flag seems to be if they do care that you don’t drink. That isn’t a healthy relationship for you anyway. And caring whether someone else drinks isn’t a healthy sign for them either.

“Non-drinker” tends to translate one of two ways - “recovering alcoholic” or “religious.” If you are not terribly religious, the assumption from us “normies” will be “recovering alcoholic.” (Sort of like meeting a fashionable young man without a girlfriend who doesn’t seem to be trolling for one or obsessing over his last one and making the non-judgmental assumption ‘gay.’) So, really, you don’t need to say anything until you get to the point in having a “relationship” where past histories need to be rehashed.

Thanks for the replies so far. One reason that I want to get it out there from the beginning is because of my sponsor. Lying and deceit was practically all I was about when drinking and he knows this. He is big on truth, although I think he carries it too far sometimes. I understand what you all are saying about TMI and I agree.

On the other hand I really hate deceit coming from the women also. I should have mentioned that I have done online dating before with moderate success. But one thing that was all too common coming from the ladies were lies of omission and almost laughably unrealistic photos of themselves. Almost any woman will look good in a glamour shot. I want a pic of them in a ratty t-shirt and jeans.

Anyway I don’t want to get off topic but I’m pretty sure my sponsor will advise me to throw it out there right away. That’s why I’m asking you all. I realize it’s an enormous red flag so right now I’m agreeing with the majority here and just checking the doesn’t drink box.

I’m kind of excited about this so I don’t want to be disappointed from the lack of replies.

Abso-freakin’-lutely. I definitely don’t go on a second date with someone who gives a shit.

Do not state that you are a recovering alcoholic in your profile. I wouldn’t respond and I would wager to guess that the only women who would respond are also alcoholics (recovering or otherwise). I’m not sure that they are going to be the best match for you right now.

My ex-husband is an alcoholic, sometimes recovering, sometimes actively participating. We met online. He told me that he was an alcoholic and not drinking on our first date. Obviously, that didn’t scare me off because I married him. I am a teetotaler at best, so I was happy to find someone who didn’t want to go sit in a bar and drink as entertainment. If he had disclosed that fact before we met, we probably would not have met. I take any disclosure in the initial emails as a “big important part of his life”, otherwise why go out of your way to announce it? If his drinking status was on his mind to that degree, it was going to be a problem for us.

Full disclosure: we divorced in large part because he didn’t stay sober. Now, I’m even more wary of dating a recovering alcoholic, but I am writing this from my pre-marriage point of view.

I’m manic depressive. A woman does not need to know this until we have dated for a while. I’d say the same applies to your being a recovering alcoholic.

I also agree that it may not come up. One of my close friends used to be a bartender. He still loves to mix drinks and tend bar at parties. He is LDS and never drinks alcohol. Almost nobody notices.

I’ve shared a story here before that makes me disagree with this. A friend of mine met a man online (plentyof fish dot com) and they exchanged several emails before deciding to have a dinner date. At the date the waiter aproached to take a drink order. Linda asked for white wine. Her date asked if she would not mind choosing something else as he is in recovery. She did so, no problem. Then asked how long he’d been in the program and his answer was twenty three years.

She said she was troubled that in weeks of emailing, including planning the date he didn’t say anything about it, that it felt as if he were testing her. She really enjoys wine. I don’t mean in a "crack open another box’ way, but rather researching prefect wine/food pairings and reading Wine Spectator and using it to generate a wish list she keeps in her purse. She had mentioned that in her profile.

First dates are adventure enough without surprises. I support sharing that information in the first few emails.

I really like what Eureka said about not thinking about dating in terms of relationships yet but as a way people entertain themselves in pairs.

I disagree. If someone tells me they don’t drink, I don’t spend much time thinking about why, although if I were going to be dating or developing a close friendship with the person, I assume I’d find out sooner or later. But, to the extent that I’d think about it at all, I’d think, “Maybe they don’t like the taste, or don’t like the way drinking makes them feel. Maybe they have a bad reaction or allergy to alcohol. Maybe they’ve had bad experiences with their own or someone else’s drinking and have decided it’s just easier not to drink. Maybe they’re prim and straitlaced. Maybe they think it’s a waste of money. Maybe they’re afraid of not being in complete control of themselves. And yes, maybe they don’t drink for religious reasons, or because they’re a recovering alcoholic.”

Then you are not the ‘tend.’ As a former non-drinker (for no reason other than ‘not fond of the taste’ - oh, and the throwing up drunk episode as a freshman in college that left me feeling ill when I smelt it - but I adapted) - my experience of ten years of non-drinking was people assumed I was in recovery or religious.

For me you would be a much better fit than someone who “drank socially.” I drink once a year tops; for the last few years it’s been:

  • 2009, nothing so far.
  • 2008, half a half-pint of cider to celebrate the arrival in Glasgow.
  • 2006-7, nothing.
  • 2005, shared a pint of Czech beer with my brother when we were in Prague.

And while, if I was to date at all, it would be nice to get someone with low mileage, who am I kidding at 41?

Pity we’re on opposite sides of the Atlantic :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t think you should tell why you don’t drink in the profile; I also don’t think you need to specify why you’re in the market. Those things come up during conversation and are part of the whole “get to know you” phase.

twickster, I must know a lot of alcoholics who don’t want to admit they are, as I’m up to here of people insisting that I must drink because otherwise they can’t have fun. I avoid going to any social function which takes place after 8pm unless it’s in somebody’s house and I know the hardest liquor at hand will be beer.

Not to put too fine a point on things but my goal right now is to find a girl/friend who also is amenable to getting laid and wanting to get laid. I know that sounds coarse because it is meant to be. If I find someone who I end up loving, then great!
Right now marriage is far from my mind but I generally like the idea of marriage, just not in the near future.
I’ve lived by myself for over seven years now and I enjoy the autonomy, even more so now. My ideal would be a 40 something woman who’s kids have moved out or close to moving out, she has her own home and can take care of herself. I’m actually attracted to strong, type A personality women who don’t take any bs and pretty much know what they want.

While I was still drinking I seemed to attract really needy women and it was a complete turn off for me. (The last thing I need is an enabler)
As I’m reading your responses I’m trying to compose my profile. I’m taking a lot of your advice and opinions to heart. I’m only on my first draft so I have plenty of time for more input.

Any opinions on how to avoid or weed out the wallflower/needy types? How about warning signs in their profile or E-mail responses? I don’t mean poor spelling or too many grammatical errors or AOL speak. (I automatically ignore those). I must have missed something in the past that may be obvious to all of you.