In the millennial world, dating is difficult, to say the least. Thanks to the complications of modern conveniences, the dating world has become convoluted by endless chasing games, being left on reading, and likes on your photos. The emotional roller coaster ride that comes with the territory can be overwhelming. If you factor in sobriety, it can get even more complicated. While dating in recovery is totally possible, it’s imperative to weigh the pros and cons before diving in.
Getting Your Priorities in Order Before Dating in Recovery
One of the most classically patronizing phrases used when describing dating in recovery is “Two dead batteries can’t start a car”. As irritating as that may be to hear over and over as a newcomer, it does hold some weight. Essentially what the old-timers are trying to say is if you have nothing to offer and neither does your partner, the relationship is doomed.
When we first enter sobriety, we may start working out and taking pride in our appearance again. We start to feel and look good for the first time in years. Our priorities quickly begin to shift from keeping the focus on ourselves to taking note of the attractive people all around us.
When it comes to dating in recovery before you even attempt to start, it’s crucial you have your own house in order. For instance, if you only have thirty days sober, you should be focusing on your recovery. Anything you put before your recovery you’ll ultimately lose. Staying on task is necessary in the very beginning.
You want to work on yourself and become the very best you before embarking on a journey for love. You, as well as your potential partner, deserve that! Most people typically recommend avoiding dating in recovery for the first year. The reason for this guideline is to give yourself a chance to grow before diverting your attention elsewhere. While plenty of people don’t actually wait the full year, it is best to at least allow for stabilization prior to falling head over heels for someone.
If you’ve made the executive decision to begin dating in recovery after careful thought and consideration, then it’s time to get out there! Just because we’re in recovery doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy life!
For as much negativity that surrounds dating in sobriety, there is so much good that can come from it as well. It’s important to give just as much attention to the numerous benefits that recovery dating has to offer.
1. Having a Partner Who Understands You
If you decide to date a fellow addict in recovery, a unique bond and relationship can form from it. Someone else on the same path of recovery can not only understand the struggles and triumphs sobriety offers firsthand but can also offer advice and support. While it’s important to always keep your recoveries separate, as you are two individual people, it’s nice to have a significant other you can really talk to about the program.
2. Going on Really Unique Dates
Adventure is out there! And who better understands that than an addict in recovery? Dating in recovery is awesome because, without the distraction of drugs and alcohol, creativity in date planning is a must!
Since I’ve embarked on recovery dating, I’ve had some of the coolest experiences of my life! Between spontaneous trips to the zoo or trying something new together, people in recovery are definitely more fun to date.
Instead of using alcohol as a crutch on the anxiety-ridden first date, you actually get to know the person and are forced to do something besides meet at a bar or restaurant for drinks.
3. Engaging in Consistent Self-Improvement
Another benefit when it comes to dating in recovery is that the program is constantly calling for personal growth. As you progress through the steps and program as a whole, positive internal change naturally takes place.
Learning about yourself in an honest manner and making adjustments to detrimental behaviors is the main point of the steps. This is great for dating because it’s never a dead-end relationship. When both parties are actively working on themselves, relationship issues can be addressed and resolved in a healthy manner.
4. Leading Separate Lives
When it comes to recovery dating, being able to live individual lives is easy. As stated above, having separate programs is vital. Going to your own meetings and spending time with your support system is necessary to your recovery.
This allows for plenty of individual time apart from your significant other. Having your own space at times is one of the main ingredients for a healthy and happy relationship.
5. Having a Great Support Network
An integral portion of recovery is having a sober support system. These are people who you associate with in recovery and who you can turn to in times of difficulty for nonbiased, positive advice. Thanks to having these recovering addicts in your life, your support system can greatly benefit your relationship.
Getting positive third-party opinions and advice can help when it comes to any arguments or challenges in your romantic relationship. Sometimes it takes an outside opinion to help us see where we were wrong. Rather than staying stubborn and stuck in your point of view, you can get a better panoramic look at your relationship, helping to resolve issues with ease.
As unfortunate as it may be, dating in recovery is not without its drawbacks. You must carefully consider the negative aspects with equal attention. As much as you may want the relationship, make sure you weigh out the potential cons as well.
Okay, so this is the most glaringly obvious and important con when it comes to dating someone in recovery. Relapse is a sad but very possible situation that comes with sobriety. Whether the relapse occurs as a result of the relationship (one of the top 5 relapse triggers) or due to separate issues, it will still affect the relationship.
It’s important to put your recovery first, and if your partner is actively using it, it’s important to make sure you and your recovery are safe. Many people are often taken out of the rooms as a result of their romantic partners.
2. Running in Similar Social Circles
Let’s face it, the local recovery community is usually rather small. Knowing many of the same people as your partner is almost unavoidable. This can be counterproductive for a number of reasons. Any ensuing drama that’s occurring in your social circles can directly impact your romantic relationship. It can also make breakups an absolute nightmare.
Although you’ve done your best to keep your recoveries separate, you run the risk of consistently running into your partner after the end of the relationship. Whether you see them at meetings or hear them mentioned on a regular basis, it can be hard to get away from them. Also, the possibility of your ex dating someone you know on a personal level is very likely, which can cause a lot of discomfort for you in the recovery community.
3. Growing Out of Sync
On the flip side of constant self-improvement, it can be possible that you and your partner may grow at different rates. This can cause a rift between the two of you.
When you may have once had so much in common, it may seem as if you’re two completely different people due to your spiritual growth and their complacency. Unless you’re both actively working on your programs, this is a serious problem many couples face when dating in recovery.
As opposed to learning to be self-sufficient, one partner may begin to become codependent on the other when dating in recovery. This unhealthy behavior often leads to the development of toxic relationships, and codependent behavior is extremely common among addicts.
5. Losing Focus on Recovery
I cannot stress the importance of putting your recovery first. If you’re not really ready to be dating in sobriety, it can be very easy to lose sight of your priorities. Recovery needs to come first, always. When you enter a romantic relationship, it’s very easy to allow it to consume most of your time, especially in the beginning.
But when it starts to interfere with step work, meeting attendance, and overall participation in your program, you’ve entered dangerous territory. It’s okay to have a life outside of recovery, but it’s important to remain focused on your sobriety.
Dating in recovery is a complicated endeavor. It is a very individual and variable experience. What works for one couple may not for another. What is important is that we take an honest look at the pros and cons of dating in recovery. We need to ask ourselves what our true intentions are and to make sure they line up with our spiritual program. Dating in recovery can be a beautiful and amazing experience. It doesn’t need to be characterized by insanity or unmanageability. It’s completely up to you. Sink or swim.