Your best take: Dating sober

Readers respond to the challenge of trying to find romance without the crutch of alcohol

Published February 10, 2011 5:11PM (EST)

Joe Berkowitz's story about the difficulties of dating sober prompted at least one date proposal, arguments about AA, a surprising conversation about the possible impotence-causing effects of Diet Coke -- and a lot of sympathy. Our favorite letter comes from sarahjean:

Go Joe!

It's unsurprising that the people hollering about not going into bars are the ones who don't have much of a taste for alcohol in the first place. Giving up alcohol is hard enough as it is since the substance itself is addictive, but you're also giving up the automatic filler of anxious pauses, the filter that fogs over your mistakes and insecurities. On top of that, the newly sober person has a whole life's worth of habits and rituals to change. It may sound silly to teetotalers, but you do build a social world with other drinkers (there's a reason drinking wine in church is called communion), and after college the place where the majority of young single people congregate is in bars. It's also one of the places where society has deemed it acceptable for strangers to approach each other and do their awkward mating dances.

On the other hand, railing against AA is also unhelpful. I know plenty of people whose lives have been saved by having a structure, a community to turn to for support. It may not be right for everyone, but I think most AA members realize that.

But once you do decide to create new sober social habits, you'll find there are good places to meet ladies (and not just judgmental teetotaler types or AA-haters). The NYT posted a piece not long ago about all the classes that women sign up for in hopes of meeting men, only to realize the classes are full of other single women (while men are drinking beer with friends at home?). Seriously, if you sign up for yoga, or a continuing-ed French class, or a weekend frisbee league, you will be outnumbered by single women many times over. Comic-Con or off-track betting? Not so much.

And letting go of the easy connection-maker of alcohol can pay off. My boyfriend was in AA and I wasn't, we met in a cafe, and since the spark was there, no alcoholic accelerant was necessary to get us ripping each others' clothes off and jumping headfirst into a long and satisfying relationship.

To read the rest of the letters, click here.

By Salon Staff

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