How do you date when you’re an alcoholic? I’ve drank and dated for years. I’ve slept with more people drunk than I have sober. In fact I haven’t had sober sex since I was 26. I’m now 30. My body count has gone up by at least 20 in that time. If not more. So how do you date when you’re an alcoholic? In simple terms, you arrange a date and you go on it. However the outcome is rarely positive. Addiction drew me to the wrong choices, dating life included. Much like I sought out destructive behaviour with drugs and alcohol, I did with men too. I hardly dated women for years.
Why is that? I believe because when I date men I follow a pattern. I know what to say, what to do, it’s presented by society and mainstream media how to perform during heterosexual dating. I dated a couple of women, but I realised it made me awkward. I couldn’t blindly walk through a stereotype like I could with men. With men, I could get drunk – be the ‘fun girl’ – bring them home, sleep with them. Sexually free! Look at me! I don’t care! When in reality, I did, but my ‘buddy’ booze really enabled me to numb my emotions. So when they left in the morning and I didn’t hear from them again, who cares! I’m sexually liberated! *Reaches for a glass of wine to dull that gnawing feeling: ‘here we go again, what’s wrong with me, what did I do wrong?’ No. Let’s not open that can of worms. Let’s quieten those thoughts with a lovely Malbec.
I have so many stories regarding my dating whilst drunk. Do I tell the story of how I thought I had pulled a DJ and when he rebuffed my chances I sat on my sofa and drank an entire bottle of tequila, neat? I didn’t even bother with a glass! Just swigged it straight out the neck. Do I talk about the person I fell ‘in love’ with over tinder, who I had never met, then repeatedly booty-called when I was blackout drunk to come and take cocaine with me? Mid week might I add. Do I talk about the guy I got blackout drunk with, woke up the next day in a hotel with him sexually assaulting me as I slept?
I have a litany of stories similar to these. Some can be rather humorous in the retelling, some not so. What they all have in common is shame.
I felt such shame in my dating whilst drunk. Yes, they lit up the whats app group chat the next day, I felt like a classic 20-something year old. We all do this! What larks! Yet it made me feel so gross. I would block out images of the night before. Things I said. Things I did. Things I let them do. I feel madly in love with all the wrong types of people through the cloud of alcohol. I was desperate to be loved. I just wanted the pain to go away and believed this random man from tinder would fill the void in my life. Yet it never worked that way. Every time I was fucked and chucked, ghosted, used, unmatched the void just got bigger. Every time I filled that void with booze, it just got bigger.
I realise this isn’t the classic ‘how-to’ guide. My dating when drunk is more of a how-not-to. This isn’t a universal tale. It’s me saying when I was an alcoholic, I had no idea how to date. Addicts have an all-or-nothing mentality. We engage in target behaviours at full speed to numb ourselves. Or at least, I do. Looking back, I wasn’t dating to find a partner, I was looking for another addiction. Another rush. Something new and exciting. Get that dopamine going. Alcohol and booze had been around for so long, I wanted a new play thing. I didn’t care who they were. I decided who they were. I created images and false narratives and ignored the actual person sitting opposite me. Then when my plan fell apart I blamed them. Called them trash. Some were trash. Some weren’t. I vocally adorned them with red flags in the retelling. Negating the shit-ton of reg flags I displayed like it was the Queen’s Jubilee. It’s okay though, lovely booze and drugs were there for me to block out the deep pain of rejection.
What I’m saying is, as an addict I did not seek out anything good for myself. It was all self-destructive. Now I’m fighting for sobriety my dating world is going to be very different. The idea of sex terrifies me. Almost to the point I don’t think I want to do it again. This is because I have devalued myself so much through alcoholic sexual exploits. I threw my body in and shut off my mind. I made this the habit and it’s another habit to break. I’m going to have to be present now.
One thing I noticed through my alcoholic fuck-fest is that I would black out during sex. Yes I was very drunk, my memory was patchy but I could usually piece together the majority of the night. However when I tried to recall the sex, it was black. Maybe a flash image existed in my mind, but nothing more. My mind would shut down. Scary isn’t it?
The one thing that is so clear to me in sobriety is how long the weeks are. Being present constantly is hard. Feeling every nuance in your emotions is bumpy enough to make anyone travel sick.
When I was dating in active addiction I didn’t know myself. I didn’t know them. I didn’t know what I wanted. I used them like I used a cheap barefoot merlot. I was used like a shot of tequila. Us both sucking on lemons by the end. If, and when, I decide to date again I will do it with clarity. I will see it for what it is, a way to meet someone to share your world with. To build together. It’s not a quick-fix for my trauma. I don’t know what the future holds. However, right now, I’m happy being single. If no one comes along, fine, if someone does, also fine. I am no better or worse because of my current relationship status. My main relationship is the one with myself, and that’s the focus right now.