You’ll reveal a lot just by deciding where to meet
We have become almost conditioned to say, “Let’s go for a drink!” Dating AF may mean you’d prefer to do something different than this dated first date, so be prepared to have an alternative option in mind such as the cinema, hiking or even micro gliding. An activity away from alcohol is so much more bonding, and it can immediately put you both on equal footing.
That said, I personally found I was happy to keep the first date simple and take up the offer of a drink. But of course this will open you up to the big question: “Why don’t you drink?!” Your answer to this will of course depend on you, and on how much you’re ready to reveal. The amount I divulge has varied throughout my journey, but I now tend to go with the simple and honest response of: “Because I like to feel the life I am in.” Whatever your answer, you will ultimately be opening yourself up and laying out something that you value.
Furthermore, it is your date’s reaction that will reveal a lot about them. I’ve had many a response over time, and have come to the realisation that if it’s a negative reaction, it is their issue, not yours, and that will only help you weed out to those whose current life path does not reflect your own. However, if their response is something positive or is one of simple curiosity, you’ve got yourself someone you can talk with and relate to.
You’ll make a better connection
When you invite alcohol along on the date, your ability to tolerate increases and prevents you from seeing things clearly. And if you don’t see a person for who they are, you’re not really going to connect.
When I went AF and was no longer drenching so many evenings in alcohol, I felt that my new found spare time was precious. I discovered I had previously been guilty of giving more time to someone I had little in common with apart from alcohol – instead of focusing on someone I really liked and could really connect with.
You’ll have more self respect
Taking an AF journey makes you rethink what you’re putting into your body and what impacts your mental health. It’s a journey of discovery, and along the way you will discover your true strength and self. This true self will be impossible for you – and for someone else – not to respect. This self respect also meant I readdressed my needs, wants and priorities – so I became more thoughtful about who I invited into my life.
You’ll be able to set boundaries
I found it was vital for me to set some boundaries, firstly to ensure my old habits didn’t start creeping in, and secondly to be certain that I was comfortable with the direction and pace a date or potential relationship was taking.
Boundaries are tricky beasts to set, but they are of course all about saying “no”. And I had already gained plenty of practise with that during my AF journey! In my drinking days, I was someone who would bottle something up until it exploded like the cork from my bottle. Once AF, I learnt that communication is key.
I now try to talk it out and ensure my needs are seen to and my worries are voiced. If my date doesn’t like it, I figure they’re simply not the one for me. But by doing this, I am able to feel secure enough to do my best to meet my date’s needs in turn. It’s just like they say on airplanes in case of emergencies: you will not be able to help anyone else until you put on your own oxygen mask! This is not to say I do not still miscommunicate, and things can still build up. But by being a good communicator from the word go, you have a good chance of building a relationship on a strong foundation that can survive a clash of emotions.
You’ll experience a sober first kiss
We all know that alcohol takes away a lot of fear and doubt, but facing that fear and doubt is what builds your strength and helps you build who you are. It’s what allows you to open up and connect more with another person. When I went AF, it had been a long time since my first kiss with someone was completely sober – my main fear was that I would miss their mouth and end up snogging their nose! But you just have to just go with it – and above all enjoy it! Don’t forget that in all likelihood they’re just as nervous, yet the connection you will be left with will be so much better AF.
Sober at first sight
The more you do it, the more you realise you CAN do it. Dating is scary, but you have the power within you to do it AF. Enjoy falling head over heels without falling head over heels!
An entrepreneur and former senior oil broker, Ruari gave up drinking after excessive consumption almost cost him his marriage, and worse, his life. Going alcohol-free improved his relationships, career and energy levels, leading to him founding OYNB to provide a support network for others.
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