The desire for a fulfilling romantic relationship is a fundamental human drive. Even a great relationship takes a lot of work to maintain; it requires commitment, effort, honesty, and compromise on the part of both partners. Throw addiction recovery into the mix, and relationships can be fraught with additional challenges.
It is universally recommended that we refrain from beginning new relationships for at least the first year of our recovery. Early sobriety is a fragile time, and it’s critical that we concentrate all our efforts on getting and staying well. Undertaking a new relationship can be dangerous for several reasons:
First, we don’t yet have the emotional stability to weather the ups and downs of a new romance so soon after getting sober; over-elation can lead us to relapse just as surely as disappointment can. Second, early sobriety is a process of discovery; few of us know ourselves well enough to even begin knowing how to choose a healthy partner. Third, even relationships with others in recovery are discouraged, since one partner’s relapse can often trigger a slip by the other. This is true even when one partner has been sober for quite a while. When an experienced member of a 12-step group begins a relationship with a newcomer, this is called “13th-stepping.”
Many of us who are new to recovery may already be in a committed relationship. Negotiating the landscape of dishonesty, resentment, and pain that addiction inevitably has brought to our relationship can be particularly tricky. This is especially true if both partners have addiction issues.
The two biggest relationship challenges in early recovery are learning to trust again, and learning to forgive. Both partners may struggle with these issues, and both will need to practice honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. This does not happen overnight; remember, time takes time. Both partners will need to work at the relationship, not just the addicted person. However, it is critical that the addict maintain their sobriety, for without sobriety and recovery, there can be no basis for a healthy relationship.
If your partner tries to undermine your recovery in any way, resorts to emotional blackmail, refuses to forgive you, or refuses to get help for their own addiction, you may have no choice but to walk away. As painful as a breakup may be, it may prove to be the only way you can recover. In the end, nothing matters more.
Recovery doesn’t just happen. To fully recover in mind, body, and spirit requires professional guidance. You have work to do. At Harmony Place, you never have to do the work alone. We believe in your right of self-determination. We’re meeting where you are and taking you where you want to go. For information on our total continuum of care and luxury residential treatment and a private consultation, call us today: 1-855-652-9048