Tips for Dating in Recovery
For many singles, when that coveted wedding ring is missing from your hand, dating takes top priority, whether you’re in recovery or not. So there’s nothing wrong with wanting to date. Things only get complicated when a romantic relationship starts to take priority over your recovery.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the recommended one-year waiting period before dating for people just starting in recovery. And while this time period may seem arbitrary, it actually makes a lot of sense. After all, recovery is about establishing stability in your life. Relationships, as new and exciting as they may be, take a lot of work.
Even if you’re well past the one-year mark, relationships in recovery can be dicey simply because of the things you must do to stay sober. Ultimately, dating while in recovery isn’t safe until you’ve gained a firm footing in the recovery process. The good news is you can apply a few checks and balances along the way to keep yourself on track.
Tips for Dating While in Recovery
Substance abuse and addiction don’t happen inside a vacuum. More often than not, boredom, depression, traumatic experiences, or any number of other issues leave a person wanting to escape from the reality of daily life. These problems don’t just go away when substance abuse stops. And it’s these same problems that make dating in recovery such a challenge.
For these reasons, it’s imperative that you know and understand why you want to enter into a romantic relationship at this time. Dating involves two people and two different lives. Make sure you have a strong grip on who you are, what you want in a relationship partner, and how a relationship will fit into your life.
Make Sobriety Your Top Priority
Romantic relationships in recovery tend to play out in much the same way as in any other context. Lots of emotions, some good, some bad. These highs and lows can trigger drug or alcohol cravings. By making sobriety your top priority, you’ll know to draw the line when relationship issues or conflicts start to weaken your resolve to stay sober.
Also, the people you spend time with have a big influence on your recovery progress and success. In this respect, surrounding yourself with people who support your recovery efforts is key. Considering the “intimate” role a romantic partner holds, it’s important to ensure he or she genuinely wants to see you maintain a sober lifestyle.
Put Your Cards on the Table ..Be Honest About Your Recovery
By now you already know how important it is, to be honest with yourself and the people in your life in recovery. When honesty starts to slip, it becomes that much easier to slip back into drug or alcohol use. This means it’s important to let a romantic interest know you’re in recovery.
While this isn’t something you have to bring up on the first date, it’s best not to let things get too serious without putting your cards on the table. You don’t have to go into details about what happened in alcohol rehab or drug rehab. Just make sure he or she knows recovery is a central theme in your daily life.
It’s All About Respect – Listen to Your Gut
We all get that little twinge deep down in our gut when something’s not right. Ignoring or overlooking these flags helped pave the way for addiction to take root. More than anything else, respect for one another defines a healthy relationship. And when you’re dating in recovery, you really can’t afford to enter into toxic relationships.
Ask yourself these questions to determine if someone you’re dating respects your efforts to live a clean and sober lifestyle:
- Does he or she support you when you need to call your sponsor or attend a meeting if doing so is inconvenient for them?
- Does he or she want you to trust their judgment in matters that may compromise your recovery, such as meeting up with friends at a bar?
- Does the person your dating think you’re using AA or NA meetings as a crutch?
The bottom line is someone who truly cares about you as a person will not only support your efforts in recovery but will also take the time to understand addiction and what it takes to live a sober lifestyle. While this might seem like a lot to ask of someone you’re just getting to know, there’s no getting around the importance of protecting your recovery. When all is said and done, the person that’s right for you will have no problem accepting where you’re at at this point in your life.
Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.
1 – Harvard Health Publishing, “What Is Addiction?”
2 – British Journal of Pharmacology, “Role of Cues and Context on Drug-Seeking Behaviour”
3 – Sunshine Behavioral Health, “Inpatient Alcohol Rehab Options”
4 – Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment, “Coming to Terms With Reality: Predictors of Self-deception Within Substance Abuse Recovery”
Guest Post by Patrick Bailey