My Experience With Sober Dating

Recently married for the fourth time, the marriage already unstable due to my disease, I arrived at SA in early 2002. I’ve been sober since July 18, 2008. However, sober isn’t well, and my anger persisted. Finally my wife left me in 2013. At that time, I was a GDA delegate and attending International Conventions. I had an unmarried sponsee who needed dating guidance. What did I know about sober dating? Nothing. I had never done it in my life. So I started attending sober dating meetings at International Conventions. Here are a few highlights of what I have learned:

First, we get sober, “including not getting into relationships” (SA 204). Jess L., on a speaker tape, stated that in his opinion it takes ten years for a sexaholic to get married. My unmarried sponsee was young, and eager to date and marry. How could I tell him this? So, I told him he could start dating when he had one year of sobriety.

The second memorable piece of advice I received was about relationship stages. First, people are acquaintances. During this stage they interact with each other, getting to know one another. They invite each other to events that they enjoy. During this stage, touching is not part of the relationship. What a concept! I usually had sex with new relationships before I even knew their last name. I told my sponsee that while dating there was to be no hand holding or kissing. I also suggested that he should date 20 different people. After his third date with an individual, he could inform her of his SA membership.

After acquaintance, comes friendship. Friends plan things together that they know from the previous stage that they both enjoy. Friends also hug and hold hands. Friends do not kiss. Kissing is for the third stage of a relationship, which is love. I told my sponsee that he wasn’t supposed to kiss somebody unless he could honestly say “I love you.” Again, what a concept for me who always started relationships with sex, then tried to figure out if I liked her or not. Finally, comes the final stage of a relationship which is commitment/marriage.

I am happy to report that this sponsee met a woman in January, 2018, after having dated a number of women. There’s nothing magic about dating 20, but we need to learn how to get over the obsession of “Is this the one?” Only when we have this skill can we successfully move on to more intimate levels of relationship. This sponsee married in the spring of 2019 and will soon be celebrating his one year anniversary.

And what about me? My sponsor encouraged me to start dating around 2017. I tried it and I couldn’t do it without lust. I would go on a date, and I would then have sexual dreams. So I’d wait a while and try it again. Same result. Finally, in 2018, at Jess L.’s magic ten years, I found that I could attend my folk dancing events without lust, as long as there was a lot of prayer included. I went with the group after dancing to a pub to get to know other members. I consider this my dating period, since I only dated four other women prior to this.

A little over a year ago, a newcomer arrived. I danced with her a couple of times. She continued to come and we found ourselves talking during the breaks. After about three months of seeing each other at dances several times a month, we agreed to take a dance class together. Now, we have been dating for over a year and our relationship has moved into the “Love” stage. We tell each other “I love you” and we kiss. She knows about SA and has recently started attending S-Anon.

In conclusion, my sponsee and I have successful personal experience with sober dating. I am still sober and my sponsee got married without losing his sobriety date. Sober dating is possible, as impossible as it seems. Try it! You just might like it.

Brian W., Oregon, USA

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