Tinder and Addiction Recovery

tinder addiction recovery

What a blessing Tinder is for the self-loathing, alcoholic female. A night of free drinks and Uber rides all in exchange for some sloppy affection in the bar bathroom (or back at his place, if the drinks are strong enough). And oh, what a blessing Tinder is for the sex-obsessed, inebriated male. For the price of but a few Rum and Diets, he can get his sad little rocks off and brag to his friends the next day, embellishing reality to his liking (and crying alone in the shower when he gets home from work). Tinder and alcohol need one another about as much as one-night-stands need self-hatred and a harsh lack of personal standards. Without a little social lubricant to make the entire idea of meeting someone on a dating app tolerable, Tinder essentially becomes insufferable. Well, for some. For those who have taken an honest year off from dating and worked thoroughly on raising their own set of moral standards. For those who have recognized that replacing one vice with another is not conducive to comprehensive spiritual and emotional recovery. For those who are no longer fulfilled by random hook-ups and sloppy bar bathroom sex. But, of course, this is not everyone. There are still those sober warriors, swiping left and right till the cows come home, utilizing sorry pick-up lines and cropping their mothers out of Instagram photos.

And hey, there is nothing wrong with this – right? I mean, so long as they are staying away from the drink and the drug, a little awkward and emotionally unsettling intercourse never hurt anyone. Right?

Tinder – The Arch Nemesis of Addiction Recovery

Actually, Tinder is kind of the low-key arch nemesis of a solid program of recovery. People are bound to get defensive and disagree vehemently, and that is all fine and dandy. Surely there are some wholesome folk that utilize Tinder to make genuine human connections with members of the opposite sex. Surely there are some old-fashioned millennials looking for naught but good conversation and a potential second date. Surely! And let’s be real. If a sober individual is interested in meeting someone new, there are limited ways to go about doing so.

Here they are:

  1. Meet at a meeting or sober function (what is a sober function and also count me out)
  2. Meet through a friend of a friend (but everyone already knows everyone because the community is small and exceedingly incestuous)
  3. Meet at work (this is good, sometimes, but HR departments are a thing and also don’t shit where you eat)
  4. Meet serendipitously at a coffee shop in NYC (this is not real life and has never happened)

Okay, so there are the arguments in favor of Tindering in sobriety. It is hard to meet like-minded men and women in such a small community, and living in this day and age (where everything we could ever want or need is a swipe or a click away), we simply do not know how to go about meeting people in the first place. If you have any additional arguments, please feel free to add them to the list.

So then why is Tinder the arch nemesis of solid and fulfilled sobriety?

Simply because it feeds a part of ourselves that we have worked long and hard to overcome – the part of ourselves that thrives on instant gratification, external fulfillment, and egotism. One of the most beautiful gifts of sobriety is its ability to give us our standards back. We come to realize that we are worth far more than a series of ill-fated, booze-drenched Applebee’s dates; that we do not need to desperately seek validation in the form of slovenly backseat grope sessions. We come to realize that when we are in a place of authentic self-acceptance and spiritual fulfillment, when we are truly ready to begin sharing ourselves with others, we will know – and it will not be forced. Hopping onto Tinder when we’re feeling low or unlovable will prevent us from making necessary internal changes; it is essentially an easy way to obtain the external gratification we know will ease our pain temporarily.

Take a Look at Your Motivation

This is not a despairing plea to end the relationship between Tinder and addiction recovery so much as it is a request to take a fearless look at personal motivation. Are you using Tinder to drown the incessant pain of self-loathing and irrevocable emptiness? Or are you sincerely looking for a meaningful connection with another self-accepting but insanely busy 25-year-old, who also lacks adequate time to meet people ‘the old-fashioned way’? Chances are, if you are in relatively early recovery, you identify more with the first option. And if this is the case, you may be putting yourself and your sobriety in grave danger by engaging in Tinder culture at all. Not only does the instant gratification and relative ease of landing a quick peg on Tinder contribute to detrimental feelings of self-disgust and ultimate inadequacy, but ‘hooking up’ delays the vital development of self-realization and authentic serenity.

Newcomers, Tinder, and Instant Gratification

Think about it – a newcomer moves from inpatient treatment to halfway. He downloads Tinder, and immediately begins scoping local trade. Meanwhile, he is not working closely alongside a sponsor, not developing a critical connection with a power greater than himself, and not working towards effectively addressing all of the internal pain he has numbed for so long with drugs and booze. The pain bubbles to the surface, and he immediately seeks another way to numb it out. After a month or two of one-night-stands and steadily accumulating self-abasement, he says to himself, “Recovery isn’t cutting it for me, I still feel like shit.” And he gets high.

Or, he falls in love with a hot number from Jersey who meets him at a local Starbucks and ends up giving him a degrading fondle in the backseat of her Jetta. He is not emotionally stable enough (not nearly) to handle the implications of such a relationship, and relapses when she dumps him for Cross Fit Cameron in a week and a half. Relationships in early recovery are not conducive to long-term sobriety, just as Tindering in early recovery is a surefire way to add an unnecessary amount of self-hatred to an already overflowing bucket of emotional turmoil.

The topic of Tinder and addiction recovery may be somewhat controversial. There are those who will defend the sincerity of their intentions till the bitter end, and there are those that will argue that the ability to engage in some vice is essential to maintained sanity. And then there are those who will calmly suggest that actively participating in dating of any kind (especially dating of the Tinder variety) will not only hinder authentic spiritual, emotional, and mental progress – it will work keep addictive tendencies and behaviors alive and well.

Please feel free to share your personal experiences and opinions.