How to Have a Healthy Relationship While Maintaining Sobriety
Dating is hard for most people at one time or another, but dating in recovery can be even more challenging. You have to cope with the stresses of relationships without the substances you thought helped you through life. You can have a healthy relationship and maintain your sobriety if you take things slowly, deal honestly with your partner and, most importantly, make sure your sobriety is still the most critical aspect of your life.
Tips for Dating in Recovery
Navigating life during and after rehab treatment remains tricky, but that is especially true for dating in recovery. Here are some helpful tips for having a healthy relationship in recovery.
1. Wait until you’re ready
There’s a good reason that 12-Step programs recommend waiting a full year before you start dating in recovery. You need time to focus on your treatment, and a new relationship adds to the stress you’ll feel as you learn to live sober. You also will probably be a whole different person as your recovery progresses. Will your significant other be ready for that new you?
2. Avoid dating other addicts
Yes, you’ll both understand what you’re going through, but you run the risk of becoming enablers. You’re more likely to relapse than to motivate each other. And if you date someone in your recovery group, you won’t be able to avoid them if you break up.
3. Take it slow
When you do start dating in recovery, don’t expect to get serious right away. Keep things light and give yourselves time to get to know each other before diving into something serious. Remember dating before addiction? Every date didn’t turn into a relationship then, and it doesn’t have to now.
4. Be honest – with everyone
Tell your dates that you’re in recovery; it’s an important fact they’ll need to know in deciding whether to keep seeing you. Tell your group and your therapist. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help as your romantic relationships develop or when they falter.
5. Get creative with dating spots
If your date wants to go somewhere that brings temptation, don’t be shy about suggesting something else. How about a fun outing to the beach or a park or going out for coffee after a movie instead of a bar? Your date might even find your creativity makes you more appealing.
6. Help your dates understand your recovery
If they haven’t been through it themselves, they may have some misconceptions and won’t always react the way you think they should. Be patient. Tell them what does work and how they can help you.
7. Remember that your sobriety comes first
Don’t let your partner interfere in your recovery in any way. If they want to drink or do drugs in front of you, be sure you really can handle it. (Be very conservative about what you can handle.) Don’t allow them to indulge just to be nice. If they say, “It’s not fair that I can’t have a drink just because you’re too weak” or “Just one joint won’t hurt you,” it’s a sign that it may be time to move on to someone who wants you to succeed in recovery.
8. Be aware of relationship addiction
Don’t trade one dependence for another. Do you get upset if your new partner can’t see you? Do you cling to them or refuse to let them see other people, even non-romantically? These may be signs that you’re becoming co-dependent on your partner.
9. Be realistic about your partner’s role
Your partner is not your therapist or your group leader. They should be supportive, but they’re not there to “save” you. Ask them for emotional support, not therapy.
You’ll know when you’re ready to start dating in recovery but always rely on the advice of your treatment specialist before you take that step. For expert help in this or any other recovery issue or rehab treatment, call Muse Treatment Center at 800-426-1818 today.