It is not for everyone
For years I thought I took sober dating very seriously. My partner and I had been sexual together in 1991 and all hell broke loose. I prevented her contacting me ever again. and fled back to the UK. Then, five years later I reasoned things were different. She and I reconnected at an SA international conference. “This must be God’s will” I reasoned. My sponsor wasn’t so sure. “Make sure you are never alone together” he said. So we demurely held hands in public at the conference. By the end of the conference I had forgotten our turbulent history of five years earlier and had gone so far as to propose marriage! By that stage my sponsor wasn’t even in the picture.
We entered a year or so of “sober transatlantic dating.” Then, with great pomp and ceremony, surrounded by both our families we got married. On our wedding night I was still sober. We honeymooned on the Mediterranean. Sex was amazing. Then one day, walking on the beach together, I realized, out of the blue, that I was desperately depressed again. How come? Again I reasoned,” I am with the woman of my dreams enjoying the life of my dreams. What has gone wrong?”
The answer of course was EGO, ”Edging God Out” and addiction to lust—cunning, baffling, and powerful. By this time we had known each other for seven years, five of them either physically separated or “technically sober.” My weird interpretation of the SA sobriety meant that while separated we could engage in telephone sex together. Then, after two years of marriage, she left. I was devastated. I returned to my sponsor Jess L
I attended meetings almost daily, whining in self-pity. In spite of extraordinary support by my sponsor, I made a suicide attempt which left me paralyzed down one side. Physical recovery was slow. Emotionally and spiritually it was even slower. After barely 6 months apart I was back with her in bed again. “Why not?” I reasoned “Aren’t we husband and wife after all?”
We lasted barely another two years. “Sober dating” got the better of us. Unsober marriage finished us off. Lust in and out of marriage, whether sober by the SA definition or not, had served to mask my deepest fears and the depths of my sex and codependency addictions. I can see now that without first treating those, our marriage really did not stand a chance, whether sober or not.
These days, as I prepare at long last to make my Step 9 amends to her, I can see that my defects were running the show. Even though I had been also blessed with many years of sobriety in other programs.
Today. my capacity to delude myself around my SA sobriety definition appalls me. I still considered myself an honest, honorable man, blaming her for the breakdown of our marriage. I had to own my part in it..
Sober Dating? For all you would-be sober daters out there my conclusion will appear pretty bleak. There are sober SA’s who have engaged in sober dating. I know a few of them. For those who, like me, find that it is not for them, God has a much greater gift in store: progressive victory over lust and not some kind of add-on!
I learned to stick as close as possible to my sponsor, live in Step 3 and realize that SA conventions are part of everyday life. They offer no guarantee of sobriety. God does – when I let Him!