Dating & Intimacy in Recovery
On the wagon, but back in the saddle?
So there’s the one-year blockade suggestion, right? Well, you made it! You are back on the market. You are feeling good, actually feeling great, and ready to find that special someone who you can connect with. How do you know where to go, what to do, and who to do it with? Here are some tips and tricks that might just land you the perfect catch, and other things to consider before venturing back out into the dating world.
Think Outside The Box For Dates
Dating doesn’t have to be ordinary and awkward. Think about the things that make you feel alive. The experiences you would like to share with someone else. The unique and beautiful part of being in recovery is you don’t have to hang out in some seedy bar and stumble across a person who is impaired in order to “connect.” You have done good work to figure out who you are and what you need and there is no reason to water down the perfect opportunity for adventure.
- Do something athletic. Skiing, paddle boarding, tennis, volleyball, golf, hiking, bowling, running, or even a date at the gym. Pheromones have their best shot when there is sweat involved. Get your heart rate up and do something for your body while you see the competitive side of each other!
- Use your brain. Pull out that old Jenga game, Monopoly, brain teaser puzzle or other random board game. Have fun with the challenge and make up your own rules. This is a low-cost, intimate way to connect and have a great getting-to-know-you conversation. For example, each move could represent a personal question, or you could do a truth-or-dare version if you’re feeling bold.
- Be a foodie. What is the newest, weirdest, most obscure restaurant in town? Go there. Order something weird. Be adventurous together and have fun with dinner! This is the perfect way to make dinner really about the food and the experience – connect over calories!
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
Once you have had the chance to actually have fun with another human, don’t shy away from making the first move. Tell them what you notice. Is that rugged 5 o’clock shadow making you crazy? Tell him. Is her sense of humor exactly what you’ve been looking for? Make it a point to let her know! Use your assertive communication to highlight the things about the other person that are going to keep you interested in pursuing a deeper connection. If you want a second date, now is the time to tell him you feel the connection and want to see where it goes. The best way to gauge connection is to be forthcoming about what you like.
Pay attention to detail.
One of the most rewarding attributes about a person in recovery is you have developed an ability to be ok with who you are, work through your shortcomings, and live your best life. How sexy is that? Use that awareness to pay attention to nonverbal cues and body language like leaning in, light touches, and prolonged glances. These are the things that communicate your date is into you!
Is there a next level connection?
Ok, so you hit the ball out of the park with this one. It’s exciting and things are going from zero to 100, real quick. Fantastic! The most important components of a truly intimate connection are vulnerability, authenticity, and chemistry. If it’s there, celebrate it. If it’s lacking, think about other ways you could nurture this new connection— be it a new sober friend or a contact for someone else in the future.
Remember your compass!
A person you are ready to be intimate with should also be someone you trust with your sobriety. Do you have the same moral compass? Same goals? Talk about your needs, boundaries, and expectations. This is the time to lay all your cards on the table and stop guessing about what they want out of this encounter. If this is someone you can talk about with your sponsor, it is probably a good sign this is a healthy opportunity for romance.
Get ready for ALL the feels.
Sober sex means 100% sensation and pleasure, but most importantly, AWARENESS. You’re not numb anymore, so you might notice things that make you question yourself. Go for what feels good and use your cognitive coping techniques to combat those negative and self-defeating thoughts that are only trying to sabotage your pleasure. Focus on the feelings – the actual physical feelings. Use mindfulness techniques to immerse yourself in the moment and experience the shared sensations that are going to lead you to a memorable and pleasurable encounter. Fact versus fiction – keep it real. It’s true that everyone feels awkward and has moments of self-doubt. Remember why you are here in the first place: to feel good and connect with someone on an intimate and meaningful level. This is trial and error in the purest sense. Be kind to yourself and repeat positive mantras reinforcing why you are here and what you want to experience. What’s fiction? Movies, celebrity gossip columns, trashy magazines, and porn – don’t believe the hype. Go out there and live a real life full of awkwardness and missteps, but also pleasure and connection. Remember: one day at a time!