A couple years I ago I was introduced to Tinder. I was at a birthday party and a friend of mine was "playing," and I was immediately intrigued. You are telling me I can meet guys and start chatting immediately from the comfort of my couch on a Friday night while watching Netflix and chowing down on Thai takeout? Done and done, I thought.
I was a little over a year sober at the time and thought it sounded perfect. I hadn't dated at all within that first year of trying to navigate and get comfortable in my new sober living lifestyle, so Tinder seemed like the perfect solution to dipping my toes back into the dating pool.
I went home that night and downloaded Tinder on my phone. I selected a few pictures and then it asked me for a tagline. I wasn't sure what to put, so I put nothing. After a couple of weeks of matching with potential suitors (and I use this term lightly), I got tired of explaining that I don't drink when they would ask to "meet for drinks." I would go into panic mode when trying to explain why I don't drink. Sometimes I would meet them for "drinks" and then have to explain why I was drinking soda water. Sometimes I would suggest coffee instead, which immediately let them know that the chances of hooking up were slim. Sometimes I would just delete the match altogether to avoid the awkwardness of meeting them and not drinking because that seemed like the easiest solution.
It was exhausting, so I decided to add the tagline, "I don't drink. They recommended I stop to stay sober when I left rehab. Blogger on addiction/recovery." I thought at least this would put it out there and weed out all the boozehounds that couldn't wrap their minds around going out with someone who didn't drink. I mean, I get it. I wouldn't have wanted to date someone who was stone cold sober all the time, but then again, I was an active alcoholic so my priorities were different. I've realized that there are actually plenty of guys who could care less. And any guy who does care is never going to be a match for me.
What I didn't take into account were the many guys who looked at my profile, read my tagline and thought to themselves that something didn't add up. I assume I didn't fit what they thought an alcoholic looked like. I looked genuinely happy in my pictures (none of which included me at a bar drinking). I think there was one of me doing yoga on the beach; one of me rappelling down a building; one of me going down a water slide with my nephew; one of me at a fashion event wearing leather pants and a t-shirt that read "Sober is the New Black," and then of course, one with some pretty awesome cleavage action. I mean, it is Tinder.
I started to get message after message from guys wanting to know about my tagline. I have always been open and honest about my sobriety, so I was happy to answer them. The most common question I would get was: "Does it bother you to be around drinking?" And the answer is no. It really doesn't, but then I have to explain that my lifestyle is pretty active and healthy and that I am attracted to the same. So, if you spend the majority of your nights at a bar, then we probably don't have much in common.
I am a friendly person and interested in people and their stories. I guess it's the writer in me. So I would find myself on many occasions where I quickly knew the guy wasn't going to be a match but I was happy to talk about how and why I got sober. I found myself opening up to these guys that I had never met and would never have met if not for Tinder, and I ended up directing more than a few of them to online resources and sometimes my blog if they would ask. Some guys would take it upon themselves and Google me first and find my articles scattered about on the Internet and then message me with a slew of questions.
After probably the 10th guy admitted he thought he might have a problem with alcohol and needed to stop drinking, I had an ah-ha Tinder moment. Holy shit... I was 12th stepping on Tinder! I was definitely scoring more followers on my blog than dates, but like any good alcoholic who got and stays sober through the 12 steps, I knew this was way better than a series of scores pre-rehab.
I eventually started getting messages from guys that I had chatted with months earlier and they would tell me how my blog had been a wake-up call for them that had caused them to re-examine their relationship with alcohol. Some would express the desire to stop drinking and thank me for being so open. And a couple guys have let me know that they are now sober. I recently received an email from a guy who had expressed he might have a problem; he wrote:
I haven't had a drink since Friday. I've been going through detox. I'm doing it on my own and it's been rough. So, I started re-reading your blog again. With the mindset that "Yeah, I'm definitely an alcoholic." And every word you've written makes so much more sense now. I can't deny anymore that I have a problem and that I've lost control of my drinking. And because I lost control of my life and who I was and who I wanted to be. All of my friends and family now know and they are behind this 100 percent. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story and inspiring people like me to recover and once again live a happy and healthy life. I know it's a long road ahead of me but it's one I'm looking forward to walking down.
Hell yeah, right? If this isn't a Tinder love story, I don't know what is. This one email redeemed every single bad Tinder date that I have suffered through. My sobriety is the most attractive thing about me, so why wouldn't I flaunt that on Tinder? This is what we do: We carry the message of recovery to alcoholics. Yes, even on Tinder. Maybe even especially on Tinder.
This post originally appeared on After Party Magazine.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.