Should I Date While Recovering from Addiction?

As Valentine’s Day draws near, thoughts of love and romance come to the forefront. Images of happy couples are ubiquitous, which can make you long for past relationships or push you toward starting something new. How can you navigate the dating landscape while keeping your sobriety intact?

The One-Year Rule for Recovering Addicts

Conventional wisdom suggests that recovering addicts wait at least a year before pursuing a romantic relationship. That’s not a punishment; it’s a guideline meant to increase the odds of successful recovery. Recovery takes work, and you will need to devote most of your time and energy to staying sober. In addition, dating in the early days of sobriety carries significant risks:

Risk of losing yourself. Substance abuse tends to warp the way you see yourself, and without a strong sense of self, it’s difficult to form healthy relationships with others. Dedicating yourself to recovery can help you figure out who you are and who you want to be—before getting acquainted with someone else.

Risk of codependence. When you’re in the vulnerable state of recovery, it can be tempting to rely on a partner to meet all of your emotional needs. But that’s too big a burden for any one person to bear. This type of unhealthy attachment is basically a new addiction, posing a threat to your sobriety.

Risk of relapse. What happens when your new relationship goes south? If you’re not in a good place emotionally and spiritually, a breakup can easily trigger relapse. That’s why it’s wise to wait until you’re feeling healthy and strong before starting something new.

Tips for Dating in Recovery

Once sufficient time has passed and you’re more confident in your sobriety, you may wish to pursue a romantic relationship. Before you dip your toe in the dating pool, consider these tips:

Be honest. Don’t hide the fact that you’re in recovery. It doesn’t have to be your opener, but your partner needs to know early on that sobriety is a top priority for you. You’ll need their full support in order to make the relationship work.

Set boundaries. Clearly communicate your limits when it comes to being around alcohol at dinner, parties, sporting events, etc. You need a partner who is willing to live within those limits, and possibly to attend substance-filled functions without you.

Take it slow. Moving too quickly can cause you to miss red flags in the relationship, or to get caught up in the whirlwind of romance without stopping to consider if the person is really right for you. Take your time, keeping your relationship platonic as long as possible to maintain clear judgment.

In the end, nothing should stand in the way of your recovery. Since you need to be healthy before you can have a healthy relationship, focus on your sobriety first. The right relationship will be worth the wait.

Looking for support on your recovery journey? Contact our trained admissions counselors at (888) 984-5288 to learn how our private rehab center can help you heal.

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash