Dating can be difficult on its own, but dating while in addiction recovery can be particularly challenging. It’s hard to know when to date if you should tell the person about your recovery, and how you should approach the dating scene without alcohol or drugs.
Here are 10 dating tips for people in recovery:
1. Avoid Dating During The First Year Of Recovery
If you’re new to recovery, it’s recommended you don’t start dating until after a year of sobriety.
However, the exact timing is less important than your progress and stability. If you’ve been sober for 9 months but have a stable life and support system, you may be more ready to date than someone who has been sober for 2 years but is less stable.
Romantic relationships can jeopardize recovery, which is why it’s so important in that first year to focus on:
- forming platonic relationships
- working on your mental health
- building a support system
2. Choose Dates Carefully
It’s also important you choose who you want to date very carefully. Finding someone who likes you, or someone you like, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for you. You want to make sure the person is balanced, sober, and willing to be drug- or alcohol-free around you.
You likely don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t fully support you—that should be a deal-breaker.
3. Go Slowly
Once you’re dating someone, don’t feel the need to take the relationship too quickly. It’s likely best to take things slow.
As you begin dating, you may feel good and your brain might tell you to seek out more of that feeling. But be aware that your brain is primed to look for those dopamine hits just like it did with drugs or alcohol.
Taking your relationship slowly can ensure you know the person’s values, interests, and how they treat others. Make sure they’re the person for you before making big commitments.
4. Keep Hanging Out With Friends & Family
Don’t let a new relationship keep you away from your friends and family. They’ll be there whether this relationship lasts or not. Try not to lose yourself in your relationship so much that you abandon your support system.
Friends can also give you a more objective view of your new relationship and whether it looks like a healthy one or not.
5. Work On Personal Goals
While you and your significant other may come up with goals for your relationship, you’ll also want to keep working on your own personal goals too. Continue getting your degree, working on your fitness goals, or learning that new hobby.
Don’t let those things fall to the wayside just because you’re dating someone new. Your life should be about more than dating and recovery.
6. Make Time To Be Alone
Schedule time to be by yourself. Whether you meditate, read a book, or use it for self-care, having time by yourself and being comfortable with your own company is important.
You don’t want to need people around you all the time in order to feel comfortable or stable.
7. Be Prepared
While it’s not something anyone wants to think about, you need to be prepared for the relationship to end. It may never happen, but having a breakup plan can be vital to your recovery. You don’t want to risk a relapse because the relationship ends.
If you’re the one breaking up with someone, be upfront with how you feel. Don’t string them along or create more stress for yourself.
If you’re the one being dumped, have a plan ready to deal with any feelings that come up. Go see your addiction counselor or therapist, check in with your support system, or go to more support group meetings.
8. Be Upfront About Your Recovery Process
Tell the person you’re dating that you’re going through recovery. It doesn’t have to be the first thing out of your mouth, but it should be discussed early on. They might have questions and you can share as much as you feel comfortable with.
Keeping it to yourself will likely only make you more stressed. It’s better to get it out in the open. It also puts the ball in their court. If they don’t want to be with someone in recovery, that’s their choice. You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t support your recovery journey.
9. Put Yourself First
At first, putting yourself first may feel selfish. But when it comes to your recovery, you need to put yourself over anyone else. This is why most experts suggest not dating for a year. You need to put yourself first and that can be difficult when someone else is there.
Once you start dating, you should still be putting your recovery and your health over anything else. A chance at love isn’t worth a relapse. Your new potential partner should understand that.
10. Don’t Date Someone Else In Recovery
Two people in recovery dating each other isn’t a good idea. If one of you relapses, it could pull the other one to do so too. Those in recovery, especially early recovery, can rely too much on each other to stay sober. That can lead to codependency.
Dating is complicated on its own. Adding in two people in recovery makes it even more difficult.