Like a lot of aspects of my life, sex and relationships were something that I really didn’t think much about until I got sober. I mean, of course I thought about them…all the time. But to really take a look and see what behaviors I had in relationships and what types of people I was attracted to was something I just didn’t do.
When I did my first 4th step, my sex/relationship inventory really wasn’t that long or sordid. I had always just kind of floated from girlfriend to girlfriend. My biggest reason for whether or not I was with someone was that they wanted to be with me. If they showed me attention, I was theirs. I also used alcohol to deal with all the emotions that go along with dating…I used it for courage to talk to women, I used it to have a good time when I was out with them, and I used it to cover up my insecurities and the pain that went along with losing them.
Pages 68-70 in the Big Book gave me directions for sex and relationships that I never had before. One of the things it says is to “Ask God to mold our ideas and help us to live up to them.” This has helped me to take a look at what type of person I want to be with and see how I really want to be living my life. The second piece of advice that has guided me is to watch my motives. It is a completely natural thing to want companionship or sex, but I have to be honest with others about what my intentions are or I won’t be able to live a happy, sane life.
I have had a lot of growth in the area of relationships and sex since I’ve been sober, but I am still far from perfect. My ideal has turned out to be a loving, committed relationship build on kindness and spiritual principles. My intent for dating includes being a man who treats women with respect and showing other men what appropriate behavior towards women looks like.
Since venturing out into the world of sober dating I have been able to learn how to call a girl and ask her out without taking a shot first. I can be present and experience the awkwardness that goes along with going out on a date without needing a beer to get me through it. I’ve also experienced pain and loss in relationships like I’ve never felt before, but was able to walk through it with the support and guidance of friends in the program…without taking a drink.
I was recently struggling with trying to decide whether or not I should end a relationship, and a friend said this to me: “I’d rather be at the bottom of a ladder that I want to climb, then half-way up one I don’t”. This immediately brought my ideals back into my mind, and I saw clearly that I shouldn’t be in this relationship. It wasn’t in line with my ideals, it was getting in the way of my contact with my higher power, and it was really messing with my serenity! Today, I would rather be at the bottom of the right ladder, then repeat the craziness of past relationships and stay on the wrong one. As hard as it is to let go of relationships, I can do it knowing that my higher power has something better in store for me.