It is human nature to seek out a partner in life. That goes for everyone of any age, as well as people who are sober, in recovery, or in addiction. However, for people in recovery whose goal it is to stay sober, it is important to follow a few ground rules about dating in recovery. If you are newly in recovery, read on to find out if you are ready to date, and what to be cautious of in the dating process.
Dating in Recovery is Tricky
By the time most people have left rehab they feel like they are on top of the world. And rightfully so – getting treatment and becoming sober is a huge accomplishment and something to be proud of. However, the time right after rehab is when you are at your most vulnerable. You have a newfound freedom, and you haven’t yet experienced enough of life’s inevitable ups and downs to know how you’ll react without turning to drugs and alcohol. At this point, each day is a feat, and each day sober is something you should be proud of.
If you introduce dating too early in recovery, you are putting your sobriety on the line. There is way too much you need to learn about yourself before you can even begin to find the person who is right for you. If you think about it, you spent months, maybe years, in your addiction. Drugs or alcohol were your constant companion. Now that you are sober, you have to learn who you are without that crutch. You simply can’t know who the right person is for you before you have figured yourself out. It is a potential recipe for disaster and isn’t fair to you or the other person.
Additionally, many people finish treatment and move to halfway homes. This is a great step, but it means that the people you are hanging out with are in the same situation as you. They are just as vulnerable. They are still finding themselves, as you are. It is important to put your focus entirely on yourself instead of someone else.
Early Dating in Recovery Can Lead to Relapse
This goes for anyone in recovery, but once you stop focusing on your sobriety, your chance of relapse goes up. When you are in the zone of fewer than six months sober, the majority of the work you are doing should be focused on recovery and rebuilding your life. By bringing a partner into the situation, you are taking the focus away from your health. You’ll begin to focus on them, and they may even start to become the most important thing in the world.
In this fragile state, if something goes wrong with your relationship, you are likely to turn back to drugs and alcohol in a moment of weakness. Basically, a fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend can make you spiral so hard that you’ll be desperate. In other scenarios, one half of the relationship may relapse, causing the other half to do the same. It is a lot easier to drag someone down than pull them up. Relapse is no different.
Wait to Date!
No matter how attracted you are to someone, if you are in early recovery – wait! If they are truly the person meant for you, they will still be around in a few months when the time is better. Two sick people can’t make a healthy relationship work. Likewise, as the saying goes, you have to love yourself before you can love someone else. This couldn’t be more true for dating in recovery because it isn’t only about loving yourself, but getting to know yourself sober.
The more time and energy you can commit to yourself in the first year of recovery is ideal. Spend your time going to meetings, finding out what your hobbies are without drugs and alcohol, and finding positive people to surround you in life. It is like building a house – you need a strong foundation for anything else to happen. In recovery, you have to come first. The longer you can hold on and go through life’s moments, learning to cope with them sober, the better. You’ll be that much more equipped to foster a loving, healthy, and long-lasting relationship.
If you need help starting your recovery journey, contact Willow Place for Women at 1-888-651-4212 for information about our treatment programs.