Ashley Uzer
September 23, 2019 1:14 pm
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When I first moved to New York City for an internship in 2014, I had a bit of a “hot bartender” phase. While I enjoyed staring at (and sometimes eventually hooking up with) the tatted, dapper dudes behind the bars that my friends and I used to frequent, I remember not knowing how to approach the fact that some of them were actually sober themselves.

“I could never date a guy who didn’t drink,” I remember saying to my roommate. “Imagine going to dinner and not having someone to share a bottle of wine with you?”

In an ironic turn of events, that someone who won’t share a bottle of wine with their date is now me. In 2017, I did a Sober December (I know, one month early), and after realizing that my life improved sans-booze, I gradually started drinking less and less—until I was essentially sober.

A little over a year after saying bye to booze, I broke up with a long-term boyfriend and had to navigate dating again. Somehow, every dude I ended up hooking up with also didn’t drink, and I realized how much better that worked for me. No apologizing for not being down to split that bottle of wine, no worrying about unattractive drunk texts, and dating a guy who loved my sobriety was so much better than dating a guy who seemed to secretly wish that I would get drunk with him.

But, while sobriety and teetotaling is gaining momentum, it’s still not the status quo and dating sober can be awkward (and annoying). So when I heard about Loosid, a dating app for sober people, I was intrigued, even though I normally don’t use dating apps.

Unfortunately, upon downloading the app, I immediately felt like I was using the extreme beta version of Loosid. My profile wasn’t saving, I had trouble uploading photos, and I could barely even figure out where to “swipe” through potential dates within the app.

After getting past the initial hurdles, I matched with someone who looked like a pretty good fit for me. He was straight edge—which means, like me, he doesn’t go to AA meetings or struggle with addiction; he just chooses not to drink. He was also a vegetarian (I’m predominantly plant-based), had dark hair, a beard, and lots of tattoos—which certainly checks all my superficial boxes on dating apps.

When he still hadn’t messaged me a few days later, I debated breaking my personal policy to message him first “for the story,” but instead I just kept swiping. The app was still majorly glitching, and I couldn’t even see the photos on people’s profiles half of the time. I wondered if they couldn’t see mine either, so I added my Instagram profile to my bio just in case.

Shortly after, I got an Instagram DM request from the sober, vegetarian prince charming. He said the app wasn’t letting him message me, but assured me that we had matched and he wasn’t some random creep. After we got to messaging, I found out he was from Italy and had just moved to L.A. a few years ago. I wanted to get to know him but unfortunately, by my second date with—let’s call him Gabriele—I remembered why dating apps don’t work for me. The problem isn’t that guys on regular dating apps want to “grab drinks”—the problem is that, in my experience, guys on dating apps expect to get physical way sooner than I’m comfortable. And even if they know not to push it, and say they’re okay with waiting, I still feel pressure. I can’t enjoy what should be the fun part of dating—getting to know each other—because it feels like every date is just them putting in the groundwork to eventually get physical—not to genuinely get to know one another. Of course, this is something I have to work on personally—but it’s not an anxiety I feel with guys I haven’t met on apps.

Regardless, when I found myself in my car with Gabriele after date two, having to thoroughly explain why I didn’t feel comfortable having him come over to my place, I knew I wasn’t interested in a third date (and I did tell him that explicitly since he’d made me promise not to “ghost him”).

I went out with one other guy from Loosid, Jon*, who was also sober and vegan. It never felt uncomfortable, but we didn’t have anything in common. I probably wouldn’t have gone out with him if I wasn’t aiming to go out with three dudes for the sake of this story—there were a few red flags. Namely, he managed to program some sort of “signature” into his Loosid messages (you know, those ones you used to have on your flip phone), and his text message banter was probably as boring as the conversations I had when I owned a flip phone (what’s up? nm, u?).

Something I noticed about Loosid in general, actually, was that the quality of men’s profiles seemed very low compared to what I thought was the “standard.” This might be because my most recent dating app experience was with Raya, an “elite” dating app for “creatives”—but still. The photos used in guys’ profiles on Loosid reminded me of something your elderly creepy uncle would upload to Facebook. This might be because the guys on Loosid tended to skew older, but I usually prefer to date guys in their mid-to-late 30s and I’ve never run into this issue before.

The lack of quality profiles may have simply been because the app was so janky that nobody cared to put in the effort. There came a point when I was swiping on every profile because I couldn’t even see anyone’s photos—and I ended up giving Jon my number way earlier in the conversation than I normally would simply because the app’s messages were malfunctioning.

I wanted to go out with a third guy for the sake of this story, but due to the complications with the app and the pretty unpleasant experience I’d had on my second date with Gabriele, I figured two would suffice.

In the end, my experience with Loosid reminded me of every other experience I’ve had with dating apps: sort of awkward, uncomfortable, and a little bit disheartening. It was further proof that I can think I want someone because of their dating app resume (and photos), but then be completely wrong when I actually interact with them in person. Calling it a “waste of time” sounds harsh, because I don’t think it’s ever a waste of time to meet new people—but I’ll leave you to judge.

This experience also reminded me of something I learned after reading Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm, and something that’s been echoed in many other studies on what makes a solid match: Sometimes it’s not the big ticket interests and lifestyle choices (like sobriety, veganism, and music tastes) that determine whether we’ll get along with and be attracted to someone. None of us truly knows what we want until we get it (and even then, we might still not understand).

I still think that my ideal partner will probably have a similar relationship to alcohol as I do…but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to meet him on an app. If, like me, you’re sober and single, I wouldn’t necessarily advise against trying Loosid (I’m hoping they will have improved the app’s interface by the time this story comes out). Just don’t expect to have a better experience than you do on other dating apps. Yes, there’s comfort in knowing that you and your date will both have similar attitudes towards alcohol, but there are unfortunately zillions of other ways for a first date to disappoint you.

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