Lesbian Sex & The City: I Went On My First Ever Sober Date

Spoiler Alert: I cried.

Photo by istock

Carrie Lezshaw here. I’ve missed you babes. As a lez sex + dating columnist and overall v sexual creature, I go on a lot of dates. Tinder, Bumble, Lesbian Herstory Personal Ads, OkCupid, Zoe, you name it. Don’t judge me.

I have had a lot of curve balls thrown at me as of late on my dating-in-queer-Brooklyn journeys. I’ve had my vagina broken, I’ve had queer vs lesbian debates that I didn’t want to have (if I go on another date where the girl wants to discuss gender theory I’m going to smash a mason jar cocktail over my head), I’ve had the most mind-blowing orgasms of my life, I’ve met completely emotionally unavailable leather jacket brooding girls, and I’ve met stage five clingers. But perhaps the most wildly adventurous, daunting, and life-changing dating experience…was going on a date sober.

I recognize this is a relatively alarming and sad statement. But I love to drink! I love sexy bars, I love the shake of a cocktail mixer, I love the squirt of a lime into a vodka soda, I love the sound of a wine bottle uncorking. I love the rush of confidence and sex appeal I get after delicately sipping back Champagne bubbles. And most of all, I love the alcohol-induced butterflies. I usually leave convinced that my date is the next great love of my life.

I have a dating routine: listen to Lana Del Rey, dress and beat my face to the nines with makeup, then head to the date in a state of utter panic and then feel that panic seep out of me after the second glass of Pinot Grigio touches my lips. Just hold out till you can have your wine, I reason with myself. But this time, I couldn’t.

I didn’t know that a sober date would send my anxiety spiraling.

I met her on Tinder. She is gorgeous, you guys. Reason number one I’d rely on alcohol to deal with my shit. She’s totally my type: a femme-goth-chic-babe. When she asked if I wanted to meet her at MoMA Ps1, I obviously said yes, but couldn’t help but wish we were meeting at a bar. Just like clockwork, my anxiety starting violently twerking all over my subconscious. How will we talk? Do I even know anything about art? What if I trip over a modern sculpture and die? 

I arrived decked out in my I-need-to-calm-my-crippling-anxiety-by-being-hot-as-f*ck outfit AKA a low cut black jumpsuit and strappy black bra. She was wearing black jeans and a black muscle tee with no bra. There was no white wine to save me from the she’s-so-hot panic.

MoMA I have a question for you: why TF are you 3334354252 degrees? It’s bad enough I can’t have a drink and now I have to drip sweat my bronzer and false eyelashes off in front of my date? Rude.

After we moved through the exhibits (one of which was a GIGANTIC empty room save but one dead parrot inside. same?), my anxiety started flailing up again: How long am I supposed to spend looking at a painting? Do I furrow my brow like I’m really thinking? Do I say that’s an enthralling critique of capitalism? Do I say I lowkey think this art is bullshit?

And halfway through the rooms filled with mannequins and outdated TVs, I realized: I might be freaking the f*ck out, but at least I’m here. All the way present. I wouldn’t go home later to overanalyze and worry that I was drunkenly overperforming because I was fully present. Fully taking in the weird as the f*ck avant-garde film she was explaining to me. Fully taking in how goddamn sexy it was that she could explain something to me *without* sounding condescending.

Once we escaped to a coffee shop (she thought the art was lowkey bullshit too) and sat across from each other, my social skills slowly started to resurface. Maybe it wasn’t the lack of sulfites and alcohol in my system; it was just that I was out of my comfort zone. Now that we were sitting across from each other, the only thing to do was converse and I began to relax.

Human connection is tough, you guys. And I get why we want to drown ourselves in alcohol to be comfortable with each other. But eventually, we all get sober. Eventually, you wake up next to a girl, without any alcohol swimming through your veins. Eventually, you’ll be sleepily making eggs for her while she stays in bed. Eventually, she might ask you on a lunch date. Maybe she’ll call you to make plans during the day before it’s socially acceptable to have a glass of wine in your hands. If your goal is to authentically connect; eventually you both will be sober.

And we have to be equipped to deal with ourselves and our partners once that happens. It helps to know if you actually like and actually know someone sooner than later. I’ve gone through entire relationships blissfully floating on a rosé buzz, only to wake up one morning and wonder who the f*ck I was sleeping next to.

Going on a sober date really forced me to look at myself, and think about how much I rely on alcohol to have a sexy personality. Usually, kisses happen naturally, but this time I could hardly muster a hug and I quickly squeaked “I’d like to see you again.”

After dates, I usually come skipping into my apartment, floating on Champagne bubbles. I twirl around and recount the night to my roommates while we do face masks or make cookies. I giggle and get the stomach flip feeling telling them about my night. But this time, I walked into my apartment and felt…strange.

“How was your date?” my BFF Jaime asked.

“I don’t know,” I answered.

And the next thing I knew, I was sobbing into Jaime’s arms. Maybe it’s because I have my period. Maybe it’s because I was really forced to look at myself. Maybe it’s because I haven’t authentically connected with a date in forever. Maybe letting someone see me really f*cking scares me. It’s overwhelming to have to be myself without the subtle cheer of liquor in my system chanting you’re so hot! they’re so hot! you’re so hot together! Maybe I’m scared that if I’m not this cool-trendy-Brooklyn-slugging-back-cocktails-shamelessly-flirting-and-not-giving-a-f*ck-girl, someone will see how vulnerable I am. Maybe it’s because I felt completely insecure about how shy I was. Maybe it’s none of those things. Maybe I just like to drink.

But whatever the reason, I felt something. I felt unsure. But at least I was fully cognizant of my emotions. I didn’t make up a spark that wasn’t there. I’m not sure if there’s a spark, because it actually takes time to know someone, when you’re not in a vodka-soda haze. I do know that I want to see her again, and that she met my authentic self (even if my authentic self is shy and anxious and boring and loses her boisterous personality when she’s attracted to someone).

Will I only date sober from now on? No. I love alcohol and don’t abuse it, and getting drinks is a quintessential date for a reason. It lowers inhibitions, makes people feel sexy AF, and it’s fun. But knowing I can date without alcohol is affirming.

In short: Going on a date sober was terrifying, but I felt proud of myself that I got through it. It reminded me that not everything that’s worth it is easy. It reminded me that I’m a wild juxtaposition. I thrive off of human and sexual connection, but interacting with a stranger terrifies me. I am loud and confident, but I’m also shy and insecure.  She messaged me “sorry if I was too chatty” to which I responded, “sorry if I was too quiet.” See? We’re all on this f*cked up ride of a life together. But this time, at least we’ll remember it.