Is Dating in Sobriety as Challenging as Finding Recovery in the First Place?
Statistically speaking, between eight and 25% of addicts find recovery. Yet even those who make it can discover that the pesky problems that proceeded sobriety are still there.
Of those struggles, the one that seems to take center stage rests in the love department. There are reasons for this. Many come into recovery having been isolated to the point that romantic relationships were but a distant thought; others are in relationships that no longer work when they stop numbing themselves.
Then, out there in “the field,” there’s the matter of how to handle disclosures about sobriety (“I don’t drink because I used to be a drunken hot mess” or, even worse “I don’t drink because I used to be a drunken hot mess—oh, and I’m also dual diagnosis because I suffer from mental health issues”) doesn’t exactly scream “great partner material” on a dating site or app).
And of course, sober folks must contend with the fact that plenty of those out there for the dating are heavy drinkers or even practicing alcoholics themselves.
I can vouch for the challenges of this particular issue. I’m over 17 years sober and it took me years of frustrating and occasionally painful efforts to find the guy I eventually committed to. In that time, I encountered more men than I can count who either drank so much that it rendered them completely not present or wouldn’t even want to meet once they found out I didn’t drink.
But now there’s good news on the horizon — namely a dating site for sober people.
Launched in November 2015 by the affable sober, Arizona-based Mike Reed, Single and Sober didn’t come into existence because Reed was looking for a date (he was already dating the woman who’s now his fiancé when he launched the site).
Instead, Reed was simply a condo owner looking for sober roommates to rent his place. And he learned the hard way that people — well, they lie. They’d tell him they were sober and then he’d find bongs and empty bottles in their rooms.
And so he turned where we all turn to when looking for a solution: Google. He wondered if there was a website for people looking for sober roommates and he quickly discovered there was.
But then a lightbulb went off: did the same thing exist for sober people seeking romantic partners? He put “single” and “sober” into the search bar…and turned up the fact that www.singleandsober.com was indeed for sale.
“I sat in my room for 30 minutes, going, ‘Wow should I do this?’” Reed recalls. “The domain cost $1500. But the fact that it was even available had my wheels spinning.”
Those spinning wheels motivated him to call a close friend who happened to be a website developer. Mike asked him if he would be interested in helping build a sober dating website. His friend quickly agreed and Reed bought the domain later that day.
Much like Facebook, Single and Sober was originally launched for a specific location — in this case, Chicago (Reed is from Springfield, Illinois). Gathering users in that one area gave them time to figure out social media and SEO.
It was worth the wait; the site now has over 7,000 users in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia. And it’s not only a place to find a future Mr. or Mrs. Right; it’s also a spot where people share about their recovery.
“A lot of people on the site list their recovery dates and how long they’ve been sober on the profiles they create — its really cool to see that,” Reed says.
Speaking of sobriety, Reed has to regularly scan the site to make sure members aren’t…well, like those old tenants of his. “I make sure people don’t have a beer in their hand or a marijuana leaf on their profiles,” he says. Inappropriate content of any kind is not tolerated on his site.
Why on earth, I ask, would someone who’s so into pot or alcohol that they put it on their profile be attracted to a site called Single and Sober?
“You’ve got me,” Reed says with a laugh. “It’s free to create a profile so I guess that attracts them.”