When I said goodbye to alcohol and all its attendant drama, I never intended to bid farewell to dating, period. I saw my romantic future shimmering atop a cotton-candy cloud of contentment and stability. Without the crutch of alcohol, I was convinced that my once-jumbled love life would fall easily into place. Now that I was sober and ready, Mr. Right would surely be waiting for me (albeit at the local coffee shop instead of the next bar stool.)
It sucked to discover that alcohol-free dating was still, well, dating: an ever-awkward dance of anticipation, expectations and artifice. And for those of us who don’t drink, dating can be even more of a mixed bag. Why? Because, in case you missed the memo, most Americans are all about alcohol, especially when it comes to getting hitched (or laid.) We meet for happy hour at five, dine with wine at seven, meet lovers at a bar later on, and make every excuse to have another round. When love and sex get mixed in, the whole shebang gets even stickier.