I know, I know. We're not supposed to date at all in the first year. Some people who are perhaps more sane than I was actually follow this suggestion. I did not. And in the process, I learned at least one of the reasons why this is a suggestion: your picker is often seriously broken in the beginning. While I didn't get involved with all of the types I'm listing below, I did experiment with some of them so I know what I'm talking about here. Though please do keep in mind these guys exist everywhere, not just in SoberLand.
1) The One Who Understands: Oh boy, this guy can be icky. You can recognize him because he's always got Kleenex at the ready whenever someone of the female persuasion sheds a few tears (which, in early sobriety, can be often). He may go so far as to wipe those tears away and will certainly move in closer for a "comforting" shoulder rub or intense hug. Afterwards, he may ask for an email address or if he can punch your number into his phone because he just wants to "make sure" you're okay later. He may look like he has a lot of friends, this one--even the good guys can befriend these douchey types--so don't be fooled by the fact that he seems to have some pals. When I was new, there was a guy absolutely notorious for sleeping with every newcomer that walked in and he was pretty much adored by the masses. Danger, Will Robinson.
2) The One Who Still Lives With Mom: Also interchangeable with The One Who's A Permanent Housesitter, this is a guy who has no discernable way of making money but seems to always have plenty of cash at the diner or Starbucks. He may be silent when you ask him if he lives with anyone or he may offer up his living situation readily, sounding almost proud of the scam he's been able to pull off. I dated one of these in early sobriety (see broken picker mentioned above) but realized after a few weeks that I liked his mom better than I did him. As for the permanent housesitter types, these were actually fairly ubiquitous when I got sober in LA in those pre-airbnb times, if only for the fact that high rolling producers, directors and whatnot always seemed to be leaving town for months at a time and looking for people interested in experiencing ephemeral luxury in exchange for a little burglary prevention or dog walking. Sober alcoholics seem good at somehow being the ones who luck into these situations though more often than not, this type tended to be an attractive straight guy staying at a mansion owned by a prominent gay one.
3) The Over-Sharer: I'll never forget when I was in my first few months of sobriety and a man I'd met once asked me how I was doing. I told him I was well and asked the same of him. "Well, a lot of my incest issues have really been bubbling up lately," he responded while I stood there not knowing what to say. Or how about the guy (not in recovery but I went out with him when I was new) who wept about his mother before we'd gotten our appetizers? In recovery, we get used to being able to unload our most shameful secrets but word to the wise: some of them are better left for a sponsor or therapist.
4) The Illiterate, Pervy Facebook Updater: Now you'd think this type wouldn't need a warning label but I'm here reporting from the front lines that many gorgeous gals went for the rap of the guy I know who most embodies this description. I don't remember when I became Facebook friends with him but I do know when I deleted him: somewhere between when I first caught site of the misspelled porn he called Status Updates and the time he commented with the word "drool" on one of my photos. Apparently he survived my dismissal just fine: he's now with one of the cutest sober girls I know (wouldn't you know it, they first hooked up when he had decades and she was in her first few months); alas, the stories about him cheating have already circulated.
5) The Loudmouth: If you're anything like me, this is a type that's especially appealing when you're new because he seems so well-adjusted and fun. When I first got sober, I had an obsessive crush on a guy who was the secretary of a big evening meeting that felt much more like a party than a place for recovery. He got all the so-called cool speakers and seemed to have a funny quip for every dull moment. He even sponsored celebrities. He, I was convinced, had to be mine. Who cared that he was sober 16 years and I was brand spanking new? We were the same age! And I'd been able to find coke in whatever city I went to the previous five years so I was up for a challenge. I told the secretary of my morning meeting that he should get that guy to ask me out; I remember the secretary saying something about how he remembered the crushes he'd had on certain people when he was new. I was offended; how could he write off my true love for this guy as a simple crush? Well, long story short: my dream came true...I went out with the guy--and realized he was a complete tool. A douchey, self-obsessed grifter who had managed to have some sort of status in recovery by simple virtue of the fact that he'd been around so long, made it his whole life and kissed up to certain people. Over the years, I've heard about him a) helping a trust fund kid extort money from his family by pretending to be his angry drug dealer (for a cut), b) hustle human growth hormone into the US and deal it and c) sponsor a not terribly attractive but incredibly wealthy woman by traveling the country with her (five star accommodations of course) while she became more and more obsessed with him. In short, leave the loudmouths to self-destruct on their own; don't let them take you along for the ride.
This post originally appeared on AfterPartyChat