Reaching prolonged sobriety is a great achievement, but you may feel like there’s something missing. Perhaps after months, if not years, of focusing on yourself and your recovery, you’re ready for a relationship. If so, you need to proceed with caution.

In general, relationships shouldn’t be rushed into. Many people are guilty of dating not out of attraction but desperation. They fear loneliness to the point that they’ll put themselves in potentially unhealthy situations. However, it’s doubly important for people in recovery to be careful about relationships to focus on lasting addiction treatment.

How Do I Know When I’m Ready?

Being infatuated with someone doesn’t mean you’re ready for a relationship. It’s not fun to hear, but it’s better to realize this now than after you start dating someone. You need to know that you’re in the right place for a relationship. You won’t get a notification or letter telling you that you’re ready for a relationship. It also won’t strike you like a sudden gut feeling. You have to let this realization develop naturally. Knowing you’re ready for a relationship should come after recognizing that you can take care of yourself.

Otherwise, you could seek a relationship as a means of filling in a void. This can work for a while. However, the elation of a new relationship can soon wear off. People who try this tactic can end up sabotaging themselves. On paper, they got exactly what they wanted. In reality, they’re still searching, and this could lead them down dangerous paths.

Why Else Should I Wait?

It’s also important to wait because relationships require equal effort from both partners. You may not be in a place where you can do that, yet. It wouldn’t be fair to the other person, having them do the bulk of emotional work.

Dating in Recovery

Sometimes, it’s hard to shake a romantic desire, even if you know it’s not healthy. During recovery, you might’ve learned about mindfulness practice. Put this into use, recognizing your emotions without overt judgment. Look for other outlets to serve as productive distractions. Consult with your sponsor if necessary.

Finding the Right Person

Dating in recovery requires finding someone who takes your sobriety seriously. They don’t have to be in recovery themselves, but they need to understand your needs. This won’t be possible unless you vocalize them. Make note of your sobriety on any dating site profile you make. If you’re courting someone outside of the Internet, tell them as soon as you can.

Someone who doesn’t respect your sobriety could be a bad influence. They might try to convince you that just one drink is okay. Your being sober could make them feel like you’re judging them. Attempts to stand up for yourself and maintain your sobriety could be jeopardized by their presence in your life.

These are dealbreakers to look out for:

  • They get upset when you won’t drink or do drugs with them
  • They hang out with people who have a substance abuse disorder without any attempt to intervene 
  • A dealbreaker is they currently have a substance abuse disorder and aren’t receiving help
  • They blame you for your prior addiction 

Realize too, the work involved in dating someone in recovery. Someone could take your sobriety seriously but not be prepared for a relationship. Dating a recovering addict can be challenging, and it’s important to respect this. Avoid pursuing a relationship with someone who won’t be able to handle this responsibility.

There are no set rules for dating a recovering addict. This could be new terrain for your partner, and they might need some time to learn and understand. However, unfamiliarity isn’t an excuse for manipulative behaviors. You shouldn’t let anyone treat your recovery status as a means to gaslight or otherwise mistreat you. Let your sobriety remind you that you have control and that you can cut out things that are harming you.

Taking It Slow

Relationships aren’t sprints. Falling head over heels in love with someone could cloud your judgment. Your biggest priority should be your sobriety. If you’re too eager too soon, you could lose track of your progress.

How Can I Date Now That I'm Sober?

It’s more than possible to stay sober and have a romantic relationship. However, balancing the two takes time. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Whether you’re initially talking to someone, on a first date, or agreeing to be their partner, take things slow.

Other Factors to Consider Before You Date in Recovery 

You might have certain long-term goals in mind. Cross-check this with your partner. Do they also want to get married and have kids, or do they just want something casual? Overall, it’s important to know what you want. Figuring this out can take some trial and error, of course.

Don’t freak out if you realize you’re going too fast. Reel things back and explain to the other person why you need to do so. For instance, you might tell them you need more time for yourself. This is also a good way to see how much they respect you and your sobriety.

Establish that you’re prioritizing your wellness. Don’t rush into anything, especially something as important as a relationship. This sets you up for a relationship that mutually benefits you and another.

What Does a Healthy Relationship In Recovery Look Like

You never know where a relationship will go. You can have a good idea, based on a person’s backstory and vibe. However, pursuing a relationship means accepting at least some level of uncertainty. You need to trust someone from the onset in order to have a healthy relationship.

While relationships are all unique in their own ways, there are things that healthy relationships in recovery all have in common. Trust is even more important here because people in recovery need to be treated with trust, not suspicion. Negative stereotypes can unfortunately mar people’s perceptions of you. Focus not on changing their minds but on not giving in to their assumptions.

Boundaries for Dating After Addiction Treatment 

A healthy relationship in recovery needs to include plenty of boundaries. These are important for recovery in general. Without boundaries, you’re liable to fall back into old ways. You need to be able to recognize possible triggers and say no to situations that could threaten your sobriety. Dating in recovery should never be at the expense of your well-being.

An understanding partner is a must. When you tell them you can’t do something because of your recovery, they should accept it without badgering you for an explanation. There can be conflict, as that’s natural in all relationships. How you deal with it is what really matters.

Handling Conflict

Whether it’s a minor disagreement or a major row, it needs to be handled appropriately. Watch what you and the other person say. Anger is understandable, but it needs to be kept in check. Don’t keep things bottled up, either. This can just lead to resentment that grows and grows until leading to an explosive fight.

Your partner also has a right to speak up if they notice disturbing behaviors on your part. For example, if you start acting secretive and disappearing without notice for long stretches, that’s cause for concern. Your partner isn’t accountable for your behavior, only you are. However, they shouldn’t be on standby, wilfully ignorant of risky actions you’re taking.

Risks of Dating in Recovery

You can know that you love someone and be ready for a relationship and still face risks. Dating in recovery is a tricky thing, and there are some major concerns to be aware of.

Codependency

Codependency can involve unhealthy behaviors from both ends of a relationship. The one dating a recovering addict can feel dependent on the other person needing them. Their identity can become rooted in having a partner in recovery. Or worse, it could be in having a struggling partner.

As a result, they might minimize your attempts to stay sober. They could see your recovery as a threat to their role as a caretaker. If you have a slip-up, they could brush it off without confronting you about it. They might have a fear of conflict or get excited by its possibility.

Dating in Recovery

Your partner might not notice their codependent behaviors. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t. Tell them if you’re concerned you’re not getting the support you need. Evaluate whether they have what it takes to be your partner, or if things should be broken off. A relationship isn’t a failure because it has to end. Sometimes, that’s the best possible outcome.

Relapse Temptation

A relapse doesn’t necessarily occur when someone in recovery has a bad experience and lunges for a drink or drugs. It can happen more subtly, with new developments breaking their concentration. While a new relationship can be a great thing, it can start to overshadow your recovery. Some of the rules you put in place for yourself might start to seem less important.

That’s not to say that a relationship is going to cause you to break your sobriety. Truly, the only person responsible for your sobriety is yourself. Looking for scapegoats isn’t going to work. If your recovery matters to you, you can find a way to make it stick. Should you relapse, you can find your way back again.

You should also pay attention to the writing on the wall. Sure, the other person can’t control your actions, but they can still have an unhealthy influence on you. Think about the people you surround yourself with before your sobriety. These red flags need to be realized before any real damage can be done.

Unity Behavioral Health Can Sort Both Relationship and Addiction Troubles in Hobe Sound, FL

Dating in recovery can be very complicated. Without rules for dating as a recovering addict or dating a recovery addict, where do you start? Are there just too many uncertainties to make it worth it?

This situation can require a mixture of vigilance, self-examination, and faith. When you’re dating in recovery, you have to be there for yourself and another person. Love is important, but there needs to be more than just love for things to work.

If you have any other concerns or questions about dating in recovery or anything about addiction recovery, we’re here to help. Contact us and we’ll do our best to assist you. Remember that recovery starts with taking that very first step.

References: 

Get Help Now

Speak to one of our experienced and caring representatives at Unity Behavioral Health to learn about how our rehab programs can help your loved one defeat addiction.

GET HELP FOR YOUR LOVED ONE, CALL US

24 Hr HELPLINE : 561-708-5295