On most every other St. Patrick’s Day, I would join the throngs of women in green, go drink for drink with the boys, and bask in the attention of equally inebriated men. But this year I’m forgoing alcohol, and with it, the easy admiration I receive from the men in green.
But it’s not just the St. Patrick’s day booze fest I’m giving up, it’s the just-a-little-too-much that had creeped into my everyday life—and worst of all—my dating life. You see, alcohol happens to be the key ingredient to a bad speed-dating habit that I’ve picked up over the years.
For me, speed dating isn’t your typical singles event at the local bar. Speed dating is a short-term emotionally intimate affair that is initiated and fostered with alcohol and, in a week, ends in a broken heart. Whether on a date or first meeting a promising guy at a bar, alcohol was there for me to feel easy, comfortable, and attractive.
The truth is, I always took it for granted that I could match the man I was interested in drink for drink. Encouraged by his flirtation and his obvious respect for a girl who doesn’t need to slow down, I never hesitated to extend the night with one more drink. But, whether the feminist in me likes it or not, research shows that women respond to alcohol differently than men. Woman absorb about 30 percent more alcohol in the bloodstream than a man of equal weight. So while I may be matching my date drink for drink, that doesn't mean we are equally affected.
The worst part is, before the night has ended, I’d probably shared my entire life story with a man I’d just met. I’d wake up in bliss the next day and call all my friends to tell them about this amazing guy. We’d go out again—accompanied by alcohol—and would last just enough time to consume my life, stop calling my girlfriends, and meet his family. The emotional intimacy would kick in strong and expedite a handsome stranger spiraling through best friend, soulmate, confidant, and ex.
After making myself emotionally vulnerable, I couldn’t understand why the relationship would fall apart as quickly as it fell together. For years I blamed myself and concluded that I was un-dateable and unlovable. But it turns out I was not the problem; it was alcohol that hindered my ability to move at a healthy pace.
This doesn't mean it's necessary to forgo alcohol altogether, but I want to relearn how to reach inside instead of reaching for a drink when my courage fails. I want to learn to ease into intimacy with time and corresponding commitment. Yes, I even want a relationship that begins with all of the sober awkwardness of emotional boundaries, not with pins that say “Kiss Me Because I’m Drunk—I Mean Irish.”