If you have done any amount of dating as a gay man recently, you are well aware that drugs are an unavoidable part of our community. You have cloud emojis on Grindr profiles, capital “T’s” for meth, requests for party and play, rave drugs, and a slew of new substances I am not even cool enough to know about. Lately, it seems that it is impossible to date sober. For those of you who may be sober out there, I write this article to air our frustrations and foster some understanding on both ends of this predicament.
I, myself, have never been a fan or user of any drug. I have had people very close to me abuse drugs and I feel that it has changed them, ruined their opportunities, and taken away from their overall happiness. I’m talking about drugs that people consider a joke these days – marijuana, ecstasy, mushrooms, etc. More and more, I hear the guys I date reference these drugs as a casual escape mechanism that they turn to from time to time. I hear stories about how they only do drugs at music festivals and it is their one chance to really relax and have fun. I hear stories about how they have important jobs so they are obviously responsible. I hear stories about them getting drugs from their friends who are pharmacists, surgeons, and lawyers. I hear a number of ways to legitimize something that I fundamentally disagree with and do not find beneficial in my life.
Don’t get me wrong. If we are talking marijuana, I understand that many states have legalized the substance. However, to date, marijuana remains a federally banned substance – the use, growth, and distribution of which carry severe legal consequences. My point is, the guys I date keep trying to make me feel bad for abiding by some general morals in my life that are important to me. This makes it extremely difficult to relate to guys when dating, because 75% or more of them seem to use many of these drugs recreationally. Date after date guys made me feel like a prude and said we were incompatible because I seemed judgmental of their drug use. I was in my mid-twenties starting to feel the peer pressure of middle school. Was it impossible to date sober?
As a lawyer, I am the lame person that takes the law seriously. I knew I did not want to start trying drugs or pretending to be ok with them. I also knew that I did not want to be forever alone, sober on my couch watching Golden Girls every Friday night. So what did I do? Reframed the issue. The guys I spoke to never seemed abusive of drugs. If they want to break the law and use a drug once or twice a year, who am I to judge them? They all know the risks and they all are adults. Certainly, if they are abusive of drugs this is a slippery slope to be accepting of, but to a certain extent we all use drugs in our life. Prescriptions are often worse than most of these natural drugs. Caffeine probably killed hundreds of people today.
In short, I decided to be realistic. These guys never hated on me for being sober, they were turned off that I was being judgmental. There is a way to stick to your own values without being judgmental of others, and that is what I have started to do. If a guy can respect that I choose to be sober, then I should respect his choices as well. If I like him for who he is, think he is responsible, and think that he is just “enjoying his youth,” then I am not going to allow his annual Coachella needs make me swipe left. Dating sober can be dangerous, but it is no longer impossible.