seeking sober match who Has It Together (mostly) - where to look?
October 7, 2013 5:57 AM   Subscribe

by virtue of an unlikely series of events in the last several years, i'm looking for a certain type of person to date.

by virtue of an unlikely series of events in the last several years, i am now sober/nonsmoking/no drugs, own a couple of properties, save $ every month, own a car, have a very stable job w/ pension and union and 401k that requires me to wake up SUPER early, and due to the kind of work i do i'm kinda scrupulous about following rules (for example: paying parking tickets immediately if i get one, which is apparently crazy i've been told.)

i also put a lot of importance on being in shape and taking care of my health so i tend to eat pretty well and i exercise a lot. the usual hangout things (going to bars and $$ later going home drunk, getting high and ordering in, impulsive stuff) doesn't really appeal to me. i'd prefer to cook or train or read or go somewhere i haven't been before.

i know i'm not perfect - but i find myself a little outside the loop of folks my age. where do you think the best place is to meet people who share these values? if you're like this, where do you go to meet people who get you?

i'm a single female 25 y/o in nyc, am queer and am open to dating both men and women, preferably people in their 30s since i tend to get along well with folks who are a bit older than me. some of my closest platonic friends who also live in nyc are in their mid-40s.

i already do online dating and flirt with strangers and have no problem going on a blind date set up by a friend, but it seems like everyone i meet lately drinks SO MUCH. often to the point of it being a legitimate addiction and definitely enough to make me uncomfortable.

now i'm wondering where all the sober people are. i do try to meet people through exercise related hobbies but that's a little tricky since if you are a member at my gym and we later break up, i do not want to run into you four times a week every week.

anyone have any suggestions that i haven't tried, to meet sober people who "have their shit together" (mostly, no one's perfect)? basically just people who are pretty healthy overall? please help me be creative.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
12-step programs might be a place to start. You can get a decent feel for folks there and if there's a connection, no problem.

If you do on-line connections, it's perfectly okay to put all of the above information in your profile and say, "seeing M/F, 29-47, for adult, responsible relationship. Sober, employed and has his/her shit together."

You're allowed to ask for exactly what you want and you don't have to compromise if you don't want to.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:01 AM on October 7, 2013

Do you run? If so, you might want to try the Front Runners LGBT running club. They do a lot of group runs and meet up before and after races. I am in a different running club in the area and have made a lot of friends that way-- and if you meet someone and it doesn't work out you're at least not seeing them 4 times a week like you would be at a gym.
posted by matcha action at 6:12 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know if it would be your speed, but you might try a Unitarian church.

For what it's worth, as a non-sober person your age in NYC who nevertheless would be totally open to dating a non-drinker, your self-description intimidates the shit out of me. You're not 'not perfect,' you're terrifyingly perfect. You are extremely financially successful, driven, career-minded, in great shape, and you're twenty-five? Frankly, I suspect you might be scaring some people away because they feel they would have no place in your almost supernaturally together life. This isn't a dig on you at all, but I wonder if it's contributing to your dating woes- maybe some of your matches are simply afraid to talk to you for fear you'll reject them out of hand. (Seriously, a pension? Man. I don't know a single person under 50 with a pension.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:12 AM on October 7, 2013 [16 favorites]

Try okcupid, and specify "doesn't drink".

I think you might be hanging around in the wrong culture. I don't even know anyone who drinks more than a glass of wine or two a week.
posted by dmd at 6:25 AM on October 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

My sister had good luck with Fitness Singles.
posted by Dragonness at 6:25 AM on October 7, 2013

Yep, what dmd says. Just set your OkCupid search criteria to "doesn't drink, no drugs", etc., and go for it.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:33 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd stick with OKC but definitely specify "doesn't drink" rather than "sober."

"Sober", to me, comes across as a shorthand for "not an alcoholic." There are lots of people who think of themselves as "sober" (in the sense that they are not alcoholics) but nonetheless drink on weekends or socially or whatever. It sounds like you don't want that, which is fine, but you need to make sure you set the expectation that you're not even looking for that level of social alcohol use.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:37 AM on October 7, 2013 [5 favorites]

I find that this thing sort of self-filters. I do not drink. I don't smoke. No drugs. This is all clearly stated on my okcupid profile and reflected in the match question answers I've given. I go on dates with people, we get coffee. We go to zoos and museums. Whatever. The alcohol/drugs thing is never an issue.

If dude wants to find someone to go drink with or go get high with, that is clearly not me, so those dudes need not apply.

If this is an actual, recurring problem for you (i.e. EVERYONE you meet just wants to drink and get high or something), then you need to seriously reevaluate the way you interact with the world. From my perspective this has always been a complete non-issue.
posted by phunniemee at 6:39 AM on October 7, 2013

I should have previewed and read Kadin's answer first. If you have a zero tolerance policy it's going to be a lot harder. The guys I date all drink socially--like, maybe a couple beers on a weekend night while out with friends. The impact this has on me as a non-drinker is zero. If you need the people you're with to never ever ever drink, YMMV.
posted by phunniemee at 6:42 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Totally came in here to say runners. There are those of us who drink, but those of us who do drink in moderation, because we're all up at 5am running in Central Park. I know a ton of people who run for FrontRunners, and they are all great people.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:44 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I dunno, people who have their shit together generally just live their lives, and you can only see that they have their shit together after time and observation, since they don't particularly advertise it.

That being said, based on your age and location my only advice is: Don't hang out with hipsters and find yourself some engineers or software guys or other science-y academics.

Bonus advice: some cultures emphasize drinking less over other cultures for eg., a number of my Indian and my Buddhist friends barely drink and still have a good time. Try dating outside the city, and just as a throwaway, I've found the climbing gym to be a good social scene (depends on the gym though).
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:46 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Regarding OKC descriptors: To ME, "sober" reads as "recovering addict". I am not a big drinker but will drink at a holiday party or something (really I get sick too easily but I don't want to be the NON DRINKER at a party) and I describe myself as "doesn't drink" or "drinks socially", but I think "drinks socially" is actually shorthand for "every weekend", so I don't really like that either. Anyway, I would just...not mention it either way? If you make it a point to say you DO NOT DRINK you sound kind of uptight, so just let people figure it out and use your best judgment.

And for sure meeting people doing exercisey type things will probably be your best bet. I am a pothead and so are most of the people I like best, and you wouldn't catch us at a marathon or "fun" run or gym!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:58 AM on October 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'm thinking you might do well looking in communities focussed around an activity that requires training or practice. Like the runners mentioned above; but also for example, classical musicians, singers, sports of various kinds, gymnasts, and so forth. Not that those things are incompatible with drinking, but in my experience, you'll find at least some people who feel that alcohol interferes with their training. In addition, practice and training require a kind of focus and drive that might suit you.

Also, the sober people are found in greater concentrations outside of the big party city!

On the other hand, there is an advantage to having one person in a relationship less focused and driven than the other. If you're very career focused, a more chilled out partner might find it easier to follow you round the country for your job or to take time out to look after your hypothetical future kids. YMMV.
posted by emilyw at 7:18 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

That being said, based on your age and location my only advice is: Don't hang out with hipsters and find yourself some engineers or software guys or other science-y academics.

Are you implying that science-y academics and engineers and software guys don't think? Because, uh, a lot of us are also hipsters, and a lot of us do drink. If anything, cocktail/beer nerdery is endemic among the developers I know.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:22 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I think one issue may be that "sober" means "recovering addict" to a lot of people. "Non-drinker" is more neutral.

I'm 27, and I've never been a drinker, never smoked, never used drugs, etc. Neither has my husband (we married when we were 25, but we'd been together for 11 years before that). My husband is a public school teacher so we both get up at 5:45 whether we like it or not because we have a small apartment and it's not really possible (or desirable, we'd hardly see each other) for us to have different schedules. As a public employee he automatically has a pension, and we have set up a retirement plan. We save as much as we can, budget carefully, pay bills and tickets at once, etc. We have a 10-year-old used car. We exercise. We certainly don't own any properties, but you can see the similarities.

Interestingly, I don't think I would have described myself as "having my shit together". Honestly, I still feel the sting of being labeled "boring", "immature" and "no fun", which are the things that people call you when you're 18 and you don't drink, have a budget and exercise regularly. Isn't that funny? Now my choices and preferences look well-considered to others, but 10 years ago I was often accused of being too scared to let my hair down, "goody two-shoes", and so on. You may find that other non-drinkers are very, very hesitant to publicize that fact for similar reasons. And people who have pensions, save money and so on may also keep quiet about those things.

I have found a lot of friends in the insight meditation community. Some of them consider themselves Buddhist, others (like me) do not, but many are very light (1 drink every week or so) or non-drinkers for well-considered personal reasons, not because we are all following Religious Rules. I play in a community orchestra of scientists and doctors that raises money for medical charities; there are plenty of kindred spirits there. People who like long hikes or backpacking trips are often on my wavelength, too.

I'm a science academic and while I've found some friends in that community, too, I haven't found there to be an especially high concentration of non-drinkers.

List the kinds of things that you like to do with your time, if you want to attract people who like to do the same things as you. I think a lot of people my/our age have a hard time imagining what on earth non-drinkers or light-drinkers DO. Museums, outdoor community events, local arts performances, not-so-local shows, hiking, running dates, tours (historical or industrial or whatever), cooking, walking around the city and ending up getting ice cream, building things or making crafts, board games, watching movies or TV shows, attending lectures, being involved in activism, visiting libraries...
posted by Cygnet at 7:41 AM on October 7, 2013 [9 favorites]

Yeah, no on the 12- step love connection. It's in most of the literature that you shouldn't date within the community, specifically within the first year of sobriety. It's not a dating service. I know lots of people find dates there,but recommending AA as a dating service is irresponsible.

Athletics. Maybe Cross Fit?
posted by mrfuga0 at 7:51 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

My ex roommate and I are having this exact problem in SoCal, so don't come here. :P
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:52 AM on October 7, 2013

Volunteering. I know when I lived in DC there was a gay single volunteer group. There's probably one in NYC too.
posted by bananafish at 8:21 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think my life situation is pretty similar to yours (I'm 27 and in NYC and basically the only person I know with a pension too, among other things). I met my SO through college friends; do you have any you could ask? I've also made fabulous friends through meetups (yay, Metafilter!) and volunteer work (yay, 826NYC!). While I don't like going out and drinking to get drunk, I've discovered I'm a big fan of a fancy cocktail or two (as my posting history will indicate) and I have not found either Mefites or volunteers to be too heavy-drinking for my comfort. Good luck!
posted by mlle valentine at 9:00 AM on October 7, 2013

I'm like you on the no smoking, no drinking, no drugs thing - it's just never interested me much. I was coming in to say, join a CrossFit box (gym). There are enough of them in NYC that if you like it, you can switch if needed (if a relationship goes south and you just don't want to deal with the person anymore). I was asked out a couple times when I was still doing CrossFit, and although there were people who did the 2-3 beers on the weekend thing, there were very, very, very few heavy drinkers.
posted by RogueTech at 10:37 AM on October 7, 2013

NYC has some great running clubs. When I lived there, I went on several runs with the Reservoir Dogs. They met Saturday mornings to run in Central Park and often went out to brunch together afterward. It was a really friendly bunch of 20-40-somthing runners. If that specific club doesn't appeal to you, look around--I recall finding lots of them on the web and just picked one that worked well for me.

By and large, a lot of the people in running clubs seem to be into living a healthy lifestyle, and they're also social. Also, if you pick an activity that happens at 8am on Saturday, you're filtering out the late night partying crowd.

There are also cycling clubs, kayaking (I used to paddle with the KCCNY), hiking (e.g. Appalachian Trail Club, Sierra Club), etc. Running clubs are nice, though, because they tend to meet multiple times a week on a regular schedule, and there are a lot of them, so you should be able to find one you click with.
posted by pompelmo at 11:54 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

own a couple of properties, save $ every month, own a car, have a very stable job w/ pension and union and 401k

where do you think the best place is to meet people who share these values?

If you want someone you are dating to have all of those things that might be unnecessarily limiting your dating pool.

It's OK if you want someone else to be a union member, have a 401k, and own properties, but understand that this will knock a lot of people out of the running. Someone who is, say, a self-employed landlord and property owner won't have a 401k or be a member of a union.
posted by yohko at 1:13 PM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

for the record, i'm not a recovering addict, i just don't really like drinking

this would make you a "non-drinker" rather than "sober" which means being a recovering alcoholic. as another person said, don't go to 12-step programs for dating reasons. even if you go for legitimate reasons newcomers are strongly encouraged not to date for the first year.
posted by wildflower at 2:41 PM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Have you tried attending church? Most of the "non-drinkers who have their shit together" I know also attend church regularly.
posted by Ndwright at 3:28 PM on October 7, 2013

Yeah, if you are using the word "sober" it's very likely you're selecting for recovering alcoholics. I've had two drinks this year: four sips of wine at Passover and a couple weeks ago three sips of a port my friend wanted me to taste. I would describe myself as either a "social drinker" or a "non-drinker" depending on whether I was talking to a teetotaler.

In my experience the New York Cycle Club has a decent number of 30s+ single people with jobs who can get themselves out of bed between 4:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. From your talk of training, I suspect you'll want to get yourself up into the A-rides as fast as possible, though, just because you'd be bored pootling along with us B and C folk.

Another place might be contra dancing (e.g., Country Dance New York). Every contra dance I know is a dry event, and if you're okay with dancing until eleven and then going out to a diner then you'll meet a lot of people quickly. Plus, it's been the de facto dating service of New England for about 300 years now. I was a bit stunned when I started putting together quite how many of them were exes or seeing one another or married or something. Fortunately, messy break-ups seem uncommon.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:45 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

You sound like you're doing really well! But--no offense--you don't sound *that* unusual. Apart from owning "a couple of properties" you also sound like nearly everyone I know. (I really don't mean any offense--you sound lovely. And the properties thing is super impressive.) Maybe this is a suburban thing. Is it really unusual in your social circle to be 25 and have a job, a car, maybe a house, and not "party" all the time? Seriously, they don't pay their parking tickets?

Contrary to some of the advice you've received about actively seeking out anti-drinking groups or screening for it in your profile, I think part of the solution may be to not treat it as if it were unusual. Because it's not. I've never drunk a drop in my life, at 27, and it only ever comes up if I'm actively offered a drink. It otherwise affects my life zero percent, and I don't bother to bring it up at first meeting or anything like that. I'm not unusual, really--there are lots of people who don't drink. I find it a neutral value--I know plenty of nice people who drink (and have it together) and plenty who don't (and may or may not have it together for other reasons). But if someone needed to specify "no alcoholics!" I would start to wonder whether we had anything in common.

Kinda like those people who put on their profiles "no drama queens, no golddiggers, no cheaters!"--people who are not those things as a matter of course will find the mention of them jarring and off-putting (and make them question you), and people who are those things will probably think it doesn't mean them.

I think that this problem is somewhat endemic to your/our period of life. For a lot of people, the mid-twenties is around the time when they start getting out of a college 'party' mindset and start devoting themselves to however they want their lives to be. They've been on their own for a few years, they've had a chance to try different things, and the more irresponsible activities are losing their charm--as they're finally gaining enough life experiences that some causality and consequences, positive or negative, can be observed. People gain a lot of maturity and life direction in those years. Scrupulously following rules isn't 'crazy'--it's responsible.

Hold out and keep trying, I'd say. You say you'd rather "cook or train or read or go somewhere [you] haven't been before"--do those things. In NYC there are surely tons of ways you can do that, and lots of groups designed for other people who want to do those things too. Take a cooking class. Try an athletic activity you've always wanted to try (I took a flying trapeze lesson through Trapeze School New York: Chicago, but you can try the flagship!)--you don't have to do it through your gym. Swimming, skiiing, self-defense, yoga, fencing, archery, judo, rock climbing, poi-spinning? Roller derby is an awesome community, and tends to be super woman/queer friendly. Take improv classes. Take a night class in upholstery or gardening or 15th century Chinese poetry. Go somewhere you haven't been before. Try a new coffeeshop in a new neighborhood. Take a subway line you've never used and ride it to the end, then find something to do. Visit a hack space or maker space. (I wish I could give specific suggestions, but I don't know the NYC community.) If you've ever wanted to learn how to program, or sew your own clothes, or make movies, or flamenco dance, or do calligraphy, find a place to learn. (For instance, we have this in Chicago, I'm sure you have something similar.) Most libraries, museums, orchestras, colleges, etc. have lecture series which are often free and open to the public. Sign up for Groupon/Living Social and try some of the intro adventures at a discount (it's how I afforded trying trapeze school). If you're trying the same things and they aren't working, try different ones!

If the drinking itself is a problem, maybe you could try seeking out activities that automatically preclude that for awhile--volunteer tutoring in schools, for instance, (I volunteered with this group in Portland for a few years and the people I met there [and the kids] were absolutely fantastic. Highly recommend. They have a New York chapter!) Visiting nursing homes or hospitals? Get a dog and walk it in the park? People who are doing these things will self-selectingly be less likely to actually be drinking/partying at the time you are meeting with them.

I feel like I get you--I've had a hard time meeting people, due to moving to a new place for a new job and my own awkwardly responsible work schedule (which precludes most of the options I suggested to you, like taking regular classes). I think the heart of this problem is meeting people, and making friends, you have more in common with. The dating part will come on its own. And once you meet a few people you click with, you can meet their friends, and friends-of-friends, and it'll snowball from there. If I were in your city I'd want to be your friend. Good luck!
posted by spelunkingplato at 8:54 AM on October 13, 2013

« Older Football Manager...Should I Buy? (Soccer Video...   |   You've got that autumn feeling. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.