Was I going on mostly alcohol-related dates?
Bars aren’t exactly the most ideal settings for romance, but that’s where I typically had first dates. Bars are loud and distracting and fueled by, well, booze. Besides, nobody looks good under those fluorescent light fixtures that hang at every sports bar, ever.
Did alcohol affect the kind of men I dated?
Well, I was meeting a lot of men at bars and at parties after a few too many. I thought our conversations were deep and intimate, later realizing that maybe they were just passionate because of the alcohol. I think I even stayed in relationships for far too long because they were fun rather than meaningful. And, I won't let myself forget about the time I accidentally made out with the guy wearing a vest, and another one wearing a fedora.
Did I need to try dating without drinking?
Yikes, maybe. In better understanding alcohol’s role in my relationship, I started to see it as a third wheel. So, I decided to date sober. I wanted to see if and how it affected who I dated, how I dated, and why I dated. So, each time I was asked on a date, I told each potential partner that I was dating sans drinking. Here’s what happened.
I started dating more appropriate people.
When I started presenting myself as confident and happy — someone who was truly looking to get to know another person and potentially form a relationship with them — the right people were eager to meet me halfway. Because, although the tattooed bad-boy who is talking so close to my face that I can feel his breath on my skin might seem sexy after a night of partying, he’s probably not looking to settle down (something I am looking for). Without beer goggles, I could read that situation loud and clear.
I went on better dates.
Once I took alcohol out of the equation, a world of locations opened up to me. I was taken on a date to the zoo! A museum! I went on a walk-and-talk around my local park. Getting drinks is boring! Why not go on a picnic? Go hiking. See a concert. Cook dinner. Have fun and explore — it’s what dating’s all about, right?
I started expressing myself more accurately and appropriately.
Sober socializing made me more deliberate about who I spent my time with; I was more aware of what those around me were saying, and how their words and actions made me feel. I started entering situations as the best version of myself, and I became intentional with my words and present in my conversations.
Hooking up meant something.
What happened when I took the bottle out of the bedroom? My sexual actions became deliberate. They felt more intimate, romantic, and meaningful — even if a bit awkward at first. Mustering the confidence to go in for a first kiss without that liquid courage was a little nerve-wracking, but it also gave me butterflies.
So, where am I now?
I’m married to the love of my life! Just kidding. But, I do have a new lens on love — one that doesn’t involve liquor. I found myself incredibly present and on-point with the absence of alcohol, and actually had more fun on my dates because I was focused on enjoying another person as opposed to a cocktail.