Thirteenth Steppers are like those d-bag frat boys; much of what they say can be heard from people not in any kind of recovery program who are just out to get a piece. So, basically it’s a lot of “player talk” yet sprinkled with program language. And remember, women can be 13th Steppers, too.
Rule of thumb: If someone has a need to convince you of anything, then that should be a tell-tale sign that something is amiss.
Stuff 13th Steppers Say:
Wanna go get coffee? – seems harmless enough, right? Well, that’s the point. Someone might invite you out for coffee as a way of testing the waters and breaking the ice with you because it seems innocent enough. This could be the first step to being 13th–stepped.
I’m not a 13th Stepper – you might hear this one right off the bat or after an invite to coffee. Again, just a way of getting you to let down your guard.
I can help you – no doubt about it, 13th Steppers are predatory and so they will offer you help because they know that’s what you are desperately looking for, especially when you first enter a program of recovery.
Have you finished your steps? – this is somehow a qualifier as to who is eligible to date; the idea is, if you’ve finished your steps, you are in a healthy enough place to enter a romantic or physical relationship.
Have you done your 4th or 5th Step yet? – this is uttered by 13th Steppers who simply are too impatient to wait until you finish all 12 Steps. They make it sound like, well, if you have at least addressed your sexual history and shared it with your sponsor, then you are good-to-go.
I can sponsor you (between sexes) – doing the steps with a sponsor means being really vulnerable with someone so that you can heal and move on. There is a reason why they say “men with the men and women with the women.” In very few rare cases, such as gay men and women working with the opposite sex, it is OK. Otherwise, stick with your sex when doing the steps. You are leaving yourself open to predation by sharing your most intimate secrets with someone who will likely use them against you for their own gain.
Quantity versus quality (of clean/sober time) – people in the program will often say this sort of thing. And, to an extent, it’s true. There are people with a lot of clean time who are not spiritually fit and there are those with less time who work a very strong program. Either way, someone with years of sobriety shouldn’t be picking up the newcomer.
Your Sponsor is wrong/jealous/too strict – a 13th stepper will no doubt try to undermine the work your sponsor is doing with you in order to get in your pants. They will tell you whatever they think will work in order to earn your trust and get you to question your sponsor.
I never do this/You’re different/insert generic pick-up line here – again, pretty much anything a player will tell you can be applied to a 13th step situation. If he or she is laying it on thick, it’s best you run in the opposite direction.
The Big Book doesn’t say anything about dating – it’s true that the Big Book doesn’t address dating but, that’s why you have a sponsor and your sober supports – to make suggestions – and all in your best interest.
What time is your curfew?/Can you get an overnight pass? – this one is pretty much self-explanatory. If a 13th Stepper asks you either of these questions or something to the same effect, it is clear their intention.
Do you want to go to church with me? – just like the going-out-for-coffee line, this is meant to get you to let down your guard. After all, anyone who wants to take you to church is a good and trustworthy person, right?
Our programs are completely separate – this one basically is intended to get you to think that dating and relationships have nothing to do with your recovery when, in fact, personal relationships, intimate or not, have everything to do with recovering and healing.