On 1st June 2016, I quit alcohol.
Not only was that the day I quit alcohol, but I also quit every dating site I was on.
I made a conscious decision that I needed to find my true self, the real me. Not the one I had been hiding behind for the last 17 years while drinking.
See, I used to use dating sites to find women for my selfish needs. A quick fumble, a cuddle, a date night, a texting buddy, or just someone to be there when I needed them. YES, I hear you screaming ‘pig of a man’. That’s true, I was an awful man. I treated women like shit because I was was getting away with it: I could have my cake and eat it too. I could call on them when I was bored, or in the pub drunk. Once I had had my fix of emotional interaction, I’d be done with them. I’d even make them hate me so much that they would dump me, because in my eyes that wouldn’t hurt them as much. Maybe I just didn’t have the balls to dump them myself in case they became clingy or emotional.
Anyhow, over the 18 months of my sobriety I grew up a lot.
I began to find myself, I was getting compliments on how great I was looking, and how kind natured and caring I was, especially, towards those on sober journeys like my own. I was mentoring people and OYNB even made me an ambassador. I started to realise that there was a nice me. I started to find my true emotions which meant I could start to deal with them.
It was almost bang on 18 months of sobriety that I was on an online support group, looking for running clients, when someone replied to my message. She was not only looking for a running coach, but also something more. I wasn’t looking for that, I was happy single. I was going to the gym every night, running or practising my swimming, with the aim of becoming a triathlete whilst trying to start a business. But this woman simply blew me out of the water.
I never thought that it could work, for the simple fact that she lives 200 miles away in Maidenhead and I am from a tiny village in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Plus, I rarely stepped out of my village to go to Leeds, let alone go anywhere near London. So, how could this possibly work?
Well, the thing is when you quit alcohol, you start to challenge yourself.
You step out of your comfort zone. So, that is what I did. I arranged to meet her. I drove to Windsor and we spent the day together. It was nothing like any of my previous dates. It was sophisticated. We chatted, we had fun, we kissed and arranged to meet again. We clicked. We never stopped chatting. We were on the phone the whole way home, a real ‘Gavin and Stacey’ moment. We arranged to meet again as soon as possible. That’s when my new life really started. On December 23rd 2017, I went old school and asked her to be my girlfriend.
In February 2018, I introduced her to my daughter, something I had never done with anyone else before: I never knew anyone else would be around for long enough. We then celebrated Claire’s first year of sobriety, had our first holiday together, our parents have met each other and I have met her two amazing children and her pooch. 14 months on and I truly believe I have met not only the love of my life, but my rock and soul mate.
The best part however, is that this man who would never venture outside of his village, had met Claire, grown up, and is now planning for the future. We’ve bought a house in Ascot together. So, in 2019 we will be starting our new life in the South of England.