Dating. What emotions does this little word spark up in our poor, tired hearts? Anxiety? Fear? Terror? Trauma?
Sober. What emotions does this little word spark up in our poor, tired hearts? Anxiety? Fear? Terror? Trauma?
As if I haven’t scared you enough this morning, I’m going to dig my sharp, pointy nails deeper into the underbelly of your wildest vulnerability. Let’s get down and dirty. (Meow). Let’s mix those two ~bad bois~ together. Dating. Sober. Dating sober.
Girl, I get it. Just the mere thought of dating sober can fuel a woman with such relentless panic it’s enough to make her pour herself the strongest cocktail to ever exist. Like, ever.
Except we can’t do that, if — for whatever reason — we’ve taken on a vow of sobriety. We can’t even Xanax the anxiety away because being high on Xanax is pretty much the same thing as sucking back a few martinis, if we’re being real (which we are). Sobriety is about feeling your feelings without adding a soft focus Instagram filter over them. It’s about gazing into the razor-sharp edges of LIFE and learning to see the beauty of our naked realities.
Maybe you’re doing a dry January. Maybe you’re on antibiotics. Maybe you’ve realized you’re an alcoholic and are actively seeking treatment. Maybe you’re sick of going on dates you can’t goddamn remember! Whatever your reason is for deciding to plunge into le liquor celibacy, I commend you. Dating whilst sober is tough. You need a strong lesbian soccer coach who pushes you to reach your potential and blows her whistle when you’re getting out of bounds, to get you through it. I’ll be that lesbian soccer coach for you, girl. Imagine me with a gold Gucci whistle and a pound of extra virgin hair extensions clipped into my head, cheering you on. Giving you the tools to win.
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And once you crawl through the muck of these newfound awkward feelings, you’ll find that dating sober is actually pretty stellar. Trust me. It’s great to know that your attraction is real, not some false wasted attraction.
Here are some practical big lesbian sister tips to HELP you, babe, navigate the dark and stormy waters of dating sober.
1. Meditate, don’t self medicate.
Look, honey, you know I’m not one of those perfect-pony-tailed-oh-so-hydrated yogi girls. I’m a former chain-smoker with the voice of a truck driver who bears a head of wild hair and has a face full of smudged black eyeliner. I don’t hail from anywhere civilized like Nothern California. I was born in midtown Manhattan and feel more comfortable in seedy bars than I do in juice shops.
Because I don’t fit the zen-beachy-meditating stereotype (at least visually) I thought I wasn’t fit to meditate. “Ew, that’s so not my thing” I would bitchily sneer at my shrink who incessantly suggested I meditate my anxiety away. (I was a major asshole back then.)
When I was forced to stop drinking, I was desperate enough to get over my ego and attempt meditation. I went on YouTube and found some meditations and began to meditate every single morning the moment I woke up. And holyshit, sister, it’s been a life-changing practice.
Meditating takes you to this wonderful space where your feelings no longer control you. It puts a distance between you and your swirly feelings, which gives them less power. I now find myself being one those assholes who say to themselves, Hmm, I’m feeling anxious right now. That’s interesting. Let’s look into that.
Before I started meditating I would just soar into massive panic attacks that felt like actual heart attacks. I even once called 911 on myself, because I was convinced I was going into cardiac arrest and would die right there in my shitty apartment in a shitty part of Hollywood.
I highly recommend meditating before going on your first sober dates. It will keep you calm and grounded, which is why we drink right? To take the edge off our nerves?
The beauty of meditating is that there is actually no *right* way to do it. Don’t be intimidated by those bitches who wear those scary shirts that say pretentious garble like “SPIRITUAL GANGSTER” and adorn their wrists in tiny beaded Tibetan bracelets and have pilates toned arms and visible ab muscles. Meditating is for everyone. It’s for lushes who can’t hold their liquor. It’s for bad girls who can’t stay out of jail. It’s for hot messes who ruin good things. It’s for smokers. It’s for anxiety-ridden lesbians from uptight tri-state area families. It’s for all of us.
I recommend starting with some guided meditations. You can find plenty on YouTube! This is my personal favorite pre-date meditation. I listen to it lying down with headphones strapped to my ears and a sheet facemask adorned across my face. I emerge relaxed and with glowy skin.
2. Don’t plan your date at a dingy bar, go somewhere… pretty.
There are certain places that are so vile, you need to be f*cked up in order to enjoy their wicked lure. Without the false bravado of alcohol, they are smelly, stifling, disgusting and dark. You know what I’m talking about. Dive bars with horrendous lighting and bad energy.
Don’t plan a date at a place like this if you plan on staying sober. When you’re sober, you are far more aware of your surroundings than when you’re inebriated, so indulge in your newly heightened senses and go somewhere pretty. Somewhere that smells nice. Somewhere with gorgeous lighting. You might find that you catch a natural buzz just from experiencing such beauty without it being dulled down by your drunkenness.
If you’re in New York I suggest The Press Lounge—it’s light and airy and has plants and views.
3. Drink Redbull or coffee if you’re desperately seeking a buzz.
Sometimes a girl just wants to feel a little… altered, you know? Which is why I always slurp back (sugar-free) Red Bull, drink a sexy hot cup of coffee or toss back sixteen diet cokes when I’m out on the town. The little caffeine high gets me nice and amped up and comes with far fewer consequences than getting blackout drunk after a deceptively STRONG martini.
The beautiful thing about getting hopped up on caffeine over cocktails is this: Most of us anxious entities tend to drink quickly when we’re nervous, right? Like we compulsively put the glass to our lips just to *do* something. Which is why we often end up trashed without meaning to get trashed. If you drink too much diet coke, the worst thing that happens is you get jittery and pee a lot. If you drink too many glasses of wine, the worst thing that happens is, well, dark. We don’t need to go there, friend. At least not in this essay.
4. Eat something sexy.
I know it’s not cool to care about calories or food consumption in this woke day and age, but I’m not very cool, I guess. Because no matter how many body positive essays I read, I still feel shitty about myself after devouring cake.
Except when I’m not drinking. Do you know how many CALORIES you avoid when you put down the glass? I’ve been known to knock back two bottles of champagne to the head in one night. And then I’d find myself hammered and stuffing my face with mozzarella cheese sticks at 4 a.m.
When you’re not drinking, you’re probably not going to blackout binge (I said probably). So treat yourself, girl. Eat that cake. Order the cheese plate. Savor it. While your date gets gleeful off a buzz, catch the amazing food high. The amazing food high will make you feel sexy, confident, and free.
5. Get outside yourself.
Stop obsessing over the fact that you’re not drinking tonight. It’s boring. Instead get outside of yourself and your narcissism and focus your attention on the person you’ve chosen to embark on a date with. Ask them questions. Truly listen to their answers. Gaze at the bar’s decor. Study the faces of the masses of people at the bar. If you focus on what’s on the outside of your brain; you’ll forget about how hard it is to be sober. You’ll be present. And being present feels sort of like being released from a rhetorical jail. Because you’re being released from the cell that is yourself.
6. Give yourself a specific amount of time before you need to leave.
Don’t commit to a three am all-nighter if you’re new to the dating sober game. Give yourself two hours of socialization. You’ll go into the date feeling much more relaxed if you know you only NEED TO GET THROUGH TWO HOURS. Anyone can get through two hours of anything.
If you’re really ~feeling~ the person and having a great time, I suggest still leaving after two hours. Leave them wanting more! Be a tease!
7. Wear something that makes you feel wildly confident.
Now is not the time to TRY to see if you can pull off that trendy hat that you sort of think is cool but sort of think is really douchey. It will drive you to drink. Trust me on this one.
Wear something that makes you feel insatiably sexy. Like vinyl. Who doesn’t feel hot in PVC?
8. Party with the intention of connection.
Instead of thinking that your night and your date is going to be horrendously boring because you’re NOT DRINKING, you need to break that thought pattern right now, little sister.
You can still party. Just don’t party with the intention of getting sorely inebriated. Party with the intention of connecting with your date. There is no greater party than actually connecting with a person, on a real, visceral level. And the only way to do that is to be stripped of the pleather layer of booze that keeps you from truly being seen as you are.
So zen the f*ck out, go somewhere chic, devour something with truffles in it, ask loads of questions, wear your most fabulous outfit, and party with the intention of connection, baby. Happy sober dating!