Dating in recovery is a tricky issue. There’s nothing like being in a new relationship. The excitement of seeing each other and the mystery and allure of the other person is exhilarating. It’s hard to concentrate on anything else, especially when things are going well. But when the romance goes bad, the feelings of rejection and heartbreak are difficult to manage. Now, add the struggle of an addiction and trying to stay sober. In this circumstance, a relationship can be a lot to handle, and if things go wrong it has the potential to send you into a tailspin—or even worse, relapse.
In addiction rehab, you learn that avoiding people, places, and situations that trigger substance abuse is the best way to prevent a relapse. This includes anything that causes an extreme emotional response from you. The added feelings that many experience when dating someone new has the potential to distract you from the priority of recovery. It’s a good idea to avoid this situation and focus on you, your recovery and building a strong support system.
Although it’s not an official recovery policy, many suggest that you be consistently sober for a year before entering into a new relationship. Other risks of dating too quickly during recovery include higher relapse potential, possible unsafe sex practices and failure to maintain aftercare.
That isn’t to say that dating while in recovery is off limits. Just that during the beginning stages of your recovery, you should focus on yourself and your needs first. Once you feel that you have developed new, healthy habits, then it’s safer to add people and things to your life slowly.
If you do start a new relationship, you should refrain from investing all your time, effort and feelings into one person. You should prioritize yourself and your own goals. By keeping yourself mentally and emotionally balanced, you will develop a strong and sustainable recovery.
Here are some things to remember if you want to date while in recovery.
In order to achieve long-term sobriety, you have to put your program first. This remains true, regardless of your relationship status. The excitement of a new relationship can lead to a shift in priorities. You may neglect the parts of your routine that were helping you to stay sober. You may also expose yourself to more social situations where drugs or alcohol are available
As part of your therapeutic process, it is a good idea to understand what an enabler is and to make sure that your partner is unmistakably supportive of your sobriety. Give them time to learn and understand what your program consists of. If your partner uses drugs or alcohol, it is more likely that they could lead you down a counterproductive path. In addition, there is an increased risk of relapse with breakups. If your partner is in recovery too, it is important to assess their stability as well as yours.
Be honest about your addiction and your past and current struggles. Honesty is a big component of any relationship. Be upfront about your addiction and recovery.
Don’t compromise your recovery time for date time. Anyone you’re dating should understand the importance of therapy and other activities you need to make your recovery last. They shouldn’t encourage you to skip those activities for a date. They should understand that your sobriety comes first. It’s taken you a long time to get to where you are, and the journey isn’t over yet.
Don’t rush into anything. You shouldn’t put a relationship in fast forward mode while in recovery. Take it slow. You have a lot on your plate and don’t need a high-stress, high-maintenance relationship to cloud your goals. Anyone worth being with will be understanding and won’t force you to take your relationship any faster than you feel comfortable. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, much like your recovery.
Ask for Advice
If you are new to recovery, it is important to remember that you will often need to get advice from sponsors, therapists, and peers in recovery. You can also get advice from family members and friends on issues related to dating and romance. It is important not to be afraid to get the opinions of others regarding romantic partners, dating partners, etc., and to ask for advice when facing difficult situations.
Don’t Date People in The Same Program
This is a rule that applies across many different situations, and many individuals make it a point not to date others that they frequently associate with, such as colleagues at work, people who go to the same church, etc. Individuals in recovery should extend this to include others who attend the same therapy groups, support groups, peer groups, etc. Romantic relationships with these people can result in serious complications and much unwanted stress.
In the early stages of recovery, the general rule is to wait a year before attempting to develop a serious romantic relationship with anyone. Being in the early stages of recovery represents a very tenuous period, and there is greater potential to make less thought out decisions. It is certainly advisable to make friends, but most people should not attempt to develop close romantic relationships until they have actually maintained their recovery program for a sufficient length of time.
If you decide you’re ready to engage in a romantic relationship, you should list what you expect to get out of a romantic relationship, specify how your new relationship would interact with your recovery program, and ensure that your recovery program can remain your primary focus.
At Harmony Place in Woodland Hills, California, we provide a relaxing, comfortable environment for addiction treatment and recovery with many addiction treatment program options, including our Medication Assisted Treatment program. Contact us today at 1-(888)-789-4330 to learn more about our services and how you or your loved one can prepare for a successful rehabilitation from drug and alcohol addiction at our California treatment center.