You’ve quit drinking but your partner hasn’t. Or you’re single, sober and ready to start dating. Discover how to manage the relationship hurdles that lie ahead whilst still putting your sobriety first.
You’re embracing your sobriety and enjoying all the benefits. But even though you’re enjoying the experience it doesn’t mean your partner will readily change with you. Can a relationship work if one person drinks? Yes it can, and it needn’t be stressful. It is possible to continue to enjoy your relationship without endless alcohol-based arguments.
How to keep your relationship and your sobriety on track.
Don’t force the issue
Despite how strongly you feel about sobriety, you can’t force others to quit. Nagging them to ditch the drink will only lead to resentment. Rather than put your energy into trying to convert them, focus on yourself instead. Don’t weaken your resolve just because your partner drinks. Yes, you may be feeling on top of the world, and you love waking up without the cloud of hangxiety hovering over you. But that’s no excuse to harp on at your partner about what they’re missing out on. Quietly set an example and use your actions rather than your words to show how great being alcohol-free is. When they notice the benefits of being sober they may make the decision to stop drinking themselves. Or they may not. Whatever happens, don’t make judgements. Instead, learn to adapt and change as a couple. You’re with your partner because of who they are and not whether they drink or not.
When one or both members of a relationship give up drinking, it can alter the relationship’s dynamic. Alcohol is often the third party in relationships, associated with relaxing on holiday, celebrating the good times and coping through the bad. And more often than not booze is used as a scapegoat for tension and arguments. Take alcohol out of the equation and there’s nothing left to fall back on apart from the relationship itself. Be honest with your partner about your needs. Never force your partner to quit drinking, but speak up if their drinking affects you. Don’t suffer in silence and let resentment build up. Air your thoughts. They may have no idea how much it’s triggering you and be happy to alter their habits.
You know your triggers. Pay attention to these and create boundaries to reduce them. Discuss these boundaries with your partner and agree to stick to a game plan. Even the smallest change can make a considerable impact so plan for your sobriety. If you struggle when you see your partner drinking, ask them to use an opaque cup. Move all alcohol to the garage or a safe place where you won’t see it on a daily basis. Find something else to do while your partner drinks. Take a walk, enjoy a soak in the bath or spend time in a different room. It’s not ideal, but if it helps you gain strength in your sobriety, it will be worth it.
Don’t shut your partner out
Honesty is the best policy, but it works both ways. You need to take your partner’s feelings into consideration too. They may be worried that your sobriety will lead to other changes. Perhaps they’re concerned you’ll outgrow the relationship and leave them behind. Losing their drinking buddy may make them feel angry. And they might feel that you’re judging their drinking habits. Ask your partner to talk openly about their feelings but be prepared to be given answers that you may not like. Don’t get defensive. Work through the issues together. But if they can’t cope with your sobriety use your new mental clarity to talk the issues through calmly and rationally.
Mix things up
Include your partner in your sober journey and shake up your relationship. Find new activities to enjoy together that don’t involve drinking. Go for long walks, discover new alcohol-free drinks together, or take up a new hobby that interests you both. Rediscover your relationship without booze. Remember this has to be a two-way deal, you can’t force your partner to drink alcohol-free if they don’t want to. But if they have your best interests at heart, they’ll enjoy your company regardless of whether alcohol is involved.
If you’re strong in your own mind about your sobriety, it is possible to build a loving relationship.
Take away alcohol and your relationship can become healthier and less toxic. It takes a little work, but it’s possible. Discover new activities together that don’t involve drinking and support each other when the going gets tough.
Stuck for ideas about activities that don’t involve drinking? To save you Googling here’s a list of ideas to get you started (Covid may restrict a few of them but hopefully normality will return soon).
Not in a relationship but ready to try sober dating?
The thought of sober dating can seem scary and overwhelming. Alcohol takes away our inhibitions; without it, we have no choice but to be the real us. But there are plenty of benefits to sober dating. You’ll meet people more suited to you. Personality will shine through, and without beer goggles, you’ll quickly know who’s a suitable match for you.
Meet like-minded people
It’s a weird time for dating with so many restrictions due to Covid. Where you can go and who you can see is restrictive. These restrictions won’t last forever, and when life returns to some sort of normality, you’ll be able to start dating again in person. In the meantime, there are lots of online options. You can find apps for sober singles or choose a site with a mix of people. This article from Cosmopolitan will help you find an app suitable for you. Write your sobriety into your profile to make it clear from the start that you don’t drink.
Start with some straight talking
Be honest about your sobriety from the start. You don’t have to spill out your soul on the first date but let them know you’re not into drinking. It’s easy to come up with an excuse for staying sober (you’re driving, or on medication), but if the relationship progresses further, it can be tricky to backtrack. Try to understand their perspective about alcohol; if they drink, it’s not a good idea to preach at them on a first date. However, if they continuously question your sobriety, they may not be the right match.
Go somewhere different
Once restrictions lift and you can date in person, try to meet somewhere you won’t be triggered. You don’t have to go to a bar. Create a list of sober dating ideas. Suggest a coffee shop or a juice cafe. Pack a picnic and watch the sunset or get creative and book a cookery class. Get to know each other without the beer talking. If you’re comfortable with your sobriety you might be happy to go somewhere alcohol is served. Get to the venue early and order your own drink. But if being surrounded by alcohol is a trigger, avoid it. If your date is keen to spend time drinking in bars, they’re not the right person for you anyway.
Enjoy the experience
Sober dating is fun. Go with an open mind and enjoy getting to know another person. By not drinking you’ll be fully present and able to enjoy the moment. You’ll find it easier to tell if somebody sparks your interest without the drink hazing your judgement. Be picky about who you date. There’s no longer a need to go along with it just because you’re a bottle of wine in and ‘may as well’. Feel free to leave if it’s not going well. Use it as an experience to get to know yourself, what you like in a person and what you can cross off your Cupid list.
Fall in love with yourself first
Whether you’re in an established relationship or dating, you have to focus on you. Make self-care your priority and get to know your authentic sober self. The relationship between your head and your heart is the most important. Learn to love yourself first and everything else will fall into place.
Need to talk through your sobriety or a helping hand to help you stick to your sober goals whilst maintaining happy relationships? Book a call with me and let’s get your heart and soul in the right place.