Love and intimacy are fulfilling and necessary parts of life. Dating, on the other hand, can be complicated and messy. It can be stressful even for the most grounded and stable among us. This begs the question: Is dating in recovery okay? Like dating, recovering from substance misuse is also complicated but rewarding. It can certainly be tempting to date while in recovery—after all, you’re rebuilding your life, and shouldn’t romance be a part of that? While it’s perfectly normal to want to start building your future, dating in recovery is complicated. To learn more about dating in addiction recovery, contact our addiction treatment center at 855.298.3104.
Dating in Recovery: Why You Should Consider Waiting
When you first enter recovery, your focus should be on healing. This means reconnecting with friends and family, engaging in activities that bring you joy, and learning to practice self-care. It’s important to give yourself time to adjust to this new lifestyle before introducing a romantic partner into the mix.
Waiting means giving yourself time to work on your sobriety, build a strong support network, and learn how to prioritize your own needs. This will help you develop the skills necessary for healthy relationships in general and make sure that any new romantic connection doesn’t detract from your progress.
Tips for Dating in Addiction Recovery
Recovery is a lifelong process. Eventually, you’re going to be ready to start a relationship. Here are a few tips to help you know when it’s time to start putting yourself out there:
Wait Until You Are Out of Rehab
There’s no getting around this rule. You should absolutely avoid dating while in a treatment center. You are simply too busy at this stage of recovery, and you are hard at work just trying to avoid relapsing. You’re especially vulnerable at this point. You don’t want to fall into a completely different kind of addiction—love addiction. You could be replacing one type of drug with another. It isn’t fair to you or the other person. It can also become co-dependency, which usually means there’s an element of fear, control, or abuse in the relationship.
Make Time for Yourself
It can take a while to truly get to know who you are after you become sober. Discovering your personal identity can be a painful, difficult, and frustrating element of recovery. There’s so much about you that gets covered up by substances, including personality, emotions, likes, and dislikes. You may have to find out all these things about yourself by trial and error. Recovery means doing things like:
- Trying new hobbies
- Exploring how you can have sober fun
- Figuring out which styles of self-expression work for you
It may be tempting to do these things with a romantic partner, but try doing them first with someone who can offer more support, even critical support, when needed. A family member or sponsor is best. More than anything, you need to devote time to your coping skills.
Be Consistent in Your Aftercare
When you leave addiction treatment, you should have an arsenal of aftercare support in place. These may include:
- Individual therapy
- An identified 12-step meeting and sponsorship
- Medications and regular meetings with a psychiatrist
- Case management for housing needs and job location services,
These supports will be there to help you address any pitfalls that may arise as you begin dating. For example, a therapist can help you learn better ways of communicating and monitoring your behavior in a relationship. This is especially important if you have a history of unhealthy relationships. There are also supports available for partners of recovering addicts. Couples counseling or Al-Anon meetings can be a great way for your romantic partner to learn more about what you are going through and how to support you. They’ll also help you be more empathetic toward the unique and challenging situation your partner is in.
Be Honest with Potential Partners
It can be hard to open up to people about your past struggles with alcohol or drug addiction. You probably worry you’ll be judged or rejected, or you just don’t want to make things awkward. Keep in mind that the longer you wait to tell the person you’re dating about your past with substances, the harder it’s going to get. It’s best to be honest from the start.
Call Washburn House Today
Dating in addiction treatment can be complicated. It is important to remember that addiction recovery should always come first and that your sobriety must remain the priority in any relationship. To learn more about dating in addiction recovery, contact Washburn House’s addiction treatment center at 855.298.3104. We’ll help you identify when it’s time to start considering a romantic relationship and how to make sure it doesn’t interfere with your recovery progress.