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So it was probably a good thing that I finally decided to stop drinking in the summer of 2006.By then I’d suffered more than my fair share of embarrassing nights out.Most of the dating world looks like this: Have a drink or three while you’re getting ready (nervous! ), have a drink or three at dinner (OMG do I like him? ), have a drink or three at the bar afterward (shit, should I go home with him? It’s just you, and the volcano of your nervous, uncomfortable feelings, and nothing to save you but a glass of Canada Dry. You are staring down an undisclosed health issue (possibly a big deal) and the major lifestyle change of no longer drinking (definitely a big deal). When you stop drinking, you lose the luxury of such pretending. The dating world is a large majority bullshit, and it’s not such a bad fate to cut down on your slice of bullshit pie. It was a while before I felt comfortable meeting guys in bars, but now that I do, I find it’s not a big deal. Now, is the guy thinking to himself, “Man, this sucks. But does it occur to anyone — does it occur to you, now that you’re seeing things a little more clearly — that “getting wasted and fucking” is a questionable way to get to know someone? They have had a divorce, maybe even two, a layoff, some hair loss. Both of those guys can make very good dating material. My friend, if I can date at 40 — which is NOT, I assure you, a “dateable” age, but more like the age when all your female friends remove the year they were born from their Facebook page — then you can date at 25. When I got sober, that question turned around a bit. I met a lot of interesting men, but they were not interesting enough. Many of them wanted to date a woman who was drinking, which is a little bit like telling me you want to date a tall, dark-haired, exotic woman named Linda. They will be interested in taking walks, and laughing at how bad they are at bowling, and sitting in coffee shops for three hours at a stretch because neither of you was watching the time. People who stop drinking have the opportunity to find calmness and acceptance in ourselves. How you choose to disclose your sobriety — and where you want to meet men you date — is a personal decision, and I wouldn’t presume to know what was right. They have had their heart stomped on, which turns out to make them MUCH better dating material. Because the good news is — the way in which YOU are lucky — is that you are 25. It’s a simple fact that by quitting drinking, your dating pool just got smaller. I spent a lot of my younger years worrying if men liked me. I started wondering: Am *I* having a good time now? Stay healthy with advice and tips on dating without alcohol.You don't want to know the ludicrous number of possible love connections I've squashed by getting sloshed on a first or second date.

And for those of us who don’t drink, dating can be even more of a mixed bag. Because, in case you missed the memo, most Americans are all about alcohol, especially when it comes to getting hitched (or laid.) We meet for happy hour at five, dine with wine at seven, meet lovers at a bar later on, and make every excuse to have another round.

I was completely relying on alcohol to guide me through the dating world. After quitting, I learned to accept myself as I am and to work on my weaknesses.

Fun at the time was a one-night stand with a stranger.

But it sucked to discover that alcohol-free dating was still, well, When I said goodbye to alcohol and all its attendant drama, I never intended to bid farewell to dating, period.

I saw my romantic future shimmering atop a cotton-candy cloud of contentment and stability.


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