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Talking Dating and Sobriety with Lindsey Metselaar    

Talking Dating and Sobriety with Lindsey Metselaar

Art by FISK

By Hallie Belle Sheinbaum + Jessica Schiffer

When it comes to dating advice, Lindsey Metselaar is like the Internet’s big sister. It all started four years ago after she was unexpectedly dumped on her birthday and decided to record a conversation she was having with a friend about dating and relationships. That impromptu chat soon turned into the popular dating podcast, “We Met at Acme” (referencing a popular restaurant and lounge in NYC, where she lives) that covers the ups and downs of dating, relationships, sex and vulnerability. “I think I started this podcast because I love love and seeing people happy,” Metselaar told TLO. 

Reaching her third year of sobriety next month, Metselaar is also a great example of how to live a full and sober life, openly discussing her experience of becoming (and staying) sober on Instagram and her podcast, as well as the impact it’s had on her relationships.  “[My sobriety] was such a blessing because I ended up attracting my now fiancé,” Metselaar shared. 

We caught up with Metselaar to discuss why she first started “We Met at Acme,” why she finally decided to go to therapy, her tips for navigating an increasingly-complicated dating world, and her journey to getting sober, below. 

Congrats on your engagement! Were you expecting it?

I was expecting it at some point, but definitely not when it happened, so I was really happy. I was so happy that I was surprised – I would have been upset if I kind of knew. He went to high school with one of my best friends from college, so we sort of knew each other, and then we ran into each other on New Years in Miami a couple of months before the pandemic and began dating.

Is it weird for you to have a brand built around dating when you’re now be engaged?

So weird. It's such a mix of emotions, but I'm like, I guess now I’m a little more validated [in my advice], which is cool. 

How did “We Met at Acme” first come to be?

I have always been really into people's dating stories, and dating lives in general. I’m just a very curious person naturally. Four years ago, I was dumped out of nowhere on my birthday. It was so wild, I thought I knew so much about dating, but then I was like, clearly, I have a lot to learn. I went looking for a podcast about dating, and there was nothing around, it was really just crime and news. So I was like, obviously, I need to invite a friend over right now, start having conversations about dating, and record it, and I did. It was so sloppy and bad, we thought no one was going to listen to it, but people were listening. It was really cool.

What do you think it was about your podcast in particular that was so appealing at that time?

I think that it was just very raw and real, and it was like this person who people could relate to because I was just a normal person who was going through the same horrible dating experience that everyone else was and talking about it so bluntly, which helped to normalize it. I just wanted people to not feel alone, and for there to be a place where people could go and ask for dating advice and talk about dating in general.

I love your tagline, "If you're confused, they're just not interested." It’s something I try to tell my friends over and over again. I think when we’re single, we try to convince ourselves that there’s an exception to that rule, when there really isn't. How did you come to that conclusion?

I just looked back on all my past dating experiences and was like all the times that I was confused, all the times that I screenshotted texts and sent them to friends and was like, "what does this mean?" It was because they weren’t interested. It was a simple answer, and I think I just over complicated it so much and [tried to make excuses for it]. But if they're hot and cold, if you're confused, if it’s complicated, then it’s a no. With the right person, it won't be any of those things.

Dating has gotten a lot more complicated with all of the apps out there, and it’s also made ghosting a lot more common. Do you have any advice for people on navigating that world and not letting it take a toll on their mental health?

I think just realizing that you’re not going through this experience alone. I am a huge proponent of therapy – I started seeing a therapist when I was 23, and it was the best decision I ever made. And then also, having a good support system with your friends. Especially when you are going through dating, you want to make sure that you’re getting the support you need and going through the experience with other people. It makes it more bearable. You also want to try to have fun with it and not take it too seriously because that's when you can get hurt the most. 

You also host singles mixers in NYC, what was the inspiration behind that and what kind of environment are you trying to create for people?

I think dating apps are great and everyone should be on them, but meeting in person is a different experience. You just know if you vibe with someone, and you can’t just swipe them away when they’re right in front of you. So the point of our mixers is to really get people face to face with like-minded people. Pre-pandemic, three different couples met at our mixers and are still dating now and a few couples met at the most recent one, which is so exciting. I love love and seeing people happy and who you choose [as a partner] is the biggest decision you can make in your life, so being able to facilitate that is so fun. 

You mentioned starting therapy in your early twenties, what prompted you to try it?

I had never done therapy before and I was very anti-therapy. I was just like, "you know what, I’m perfect; everyone else is the problem; there is nothing that I can do; therapists are stupid, and they just tell people what they want to hear." I had a very closed mind when it came to therapy and when other people suggested that I go, it pushed me even further away from it. It had to really come from me. It had to come from me being like, "Okay, I don't have a choice anymore, I need to talk to someone." I was dealing with depression, and I finally decided to find a therapist on my own. I’m so happy I did, but it was definitely something that I had to be able to do myself.

You’re also sober now. What brought you to that decision and how has it impacted your life?

It will be three years at the end of October. For years and years, I used weed as a crutch. I’m a very Type A person, I’m always doing a million things and am always on edge, so I was like, "I will just use weed to take the edge off. I will be a better person to everyone else. I will be chill and won't be so intense." So, I started smoking when I was in high school, and it just became second nature to me. I was always high. There was not a moment that I was sober, and, eventually, I became so irritable, and it was not making me chill. It was making me way more aggressive. It got to a point where I wasn't even getting high anymore, which was dark. I would also mix other things with it, like alcohol and mushrooms.

Then, a few years ago, I went on this vacation with my family and I didn't have access to any of that stuff, and I was just mentally so unwell. I was bringing everyone down with me. I was like, "This is not okay, this is not who I am." When I got home, I was like, I can't do this anymore, this is not manageable, so I began a 12-step program that was so helpful.

How long did it take you to feel settled into that new lifestyle?

The first night was terrible. I couldn’t sleep at all. It was exactly what you would think. But about a month into it, I started to feel really good, and I started to have friends who were also sober, which made it easier for me to adapt. I would say now, almost three years later, it is second nature for me to be sober. I don't think about drinking or smoking at all. I have really strong willpower, so the second I quit, that was it, which I guess is the benefit of being Type A. 

So many more people today are opting to be sober just because they realize that all of these stimulants don't make them feel good. 

Totally. I feel like there is so much more literature about it and more role models out there who don't drink or smoke. J-Lo, for example, is sober and no one knows that. Everyone's like, "What's her secret?" And I’m like, "I know!"

So much of today’s dating culture is based on drinking. How did you navigate that when you first got sober?

I was definitely concerned about it, and I was considering staying with someone that I knew wasn’t a match because I was like, "dating sober is so scary."  But, it actually was such a blessing because I ended up attracting my now fiancé to me and, while he isn’t sober, he’s just not a big drinker. I can't imagine that he would be able to be with someone who drinks or smokes a lot. 

When you were dating, how did you approach telling people you were sober? I know that can be a challenge for some people.

I think it’s different for everyone. For me, because I’m an extrovert, I owned it really quickly and never felt I needed a drink to warm up. I was always just extroverted. I had no problem being like, "Yeah, I don't drink, but I love Diet Coke, so I’m going to get that.” It also depends on the level of sobriety. For me, it’s okay if people are drinking around me or we’re at a bar, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. I didn't feel the need to tell dates ahead of time, but the second we sat down, I would. 

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