Dating while sober

Back when I was dating my college boyfriend Patrick, who was sober, he would pull away from me when I was buzzed and handsy."You smell like a brewery," he'd say, and I didn't get it.My only directions involved taking a glass of wine to my lips and letting the sweet release show me the way. It was the fate of all single women in their late thirties to stare down a personal profile, and as far as punishments go, this was fairly benign. It allowed me to inch toward intimacy with built-in distance. I understood that not drinking—and not drinking to such an extent that it was the first detail I shared about myself—would turn off certain guys. Those bearded eccentrics with their fluency in HBO shows and single-malt Scotch.It granted me the clarity that "hanging out at the bar" often lacked. How I missed those beautiful, damaged men, but we kept our distance from each other.But I'd ruined my sole romantic strategy: get drunk, see what happens.I had no idea how to get close to a man without alcohol.I did it for my friend Anna, who'd logged countless hours listening to me complain about my ex. I bought a bottle of sauvignon blanc that night and sipped my way onto a plateau of cleverness.

I got several messages on the site that day, but two stood out.

Booze had given me permission to do and say anything I wanted, but now that I was sober, the only thing I wanted most days was to watch Netflix.

It's not as though every intimacy in my entire life had been warped by drinking.

I said no to the smart guy who wasn't attractive to me. I said no to the graphic designer who tried to kiss me one night. I ran the pool table (twice), and his eyes roamed along my ass as I lined up my shot, and I was surprised to find I liked that.

But he slurped down three bourbons in 90 minutes, and when he leaned forward to kiss me, I was grossed out by the sour smell of his breath, the slump of his eyes, and I ducked. It was a revelation to me how unappealing men were when they were drunk.

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