Are You Ready to Date in Recovery?

Dating in recovery can be tricky when sober. Putting some thought into whether or not it's the right time to date can prevent problems later. 

This is NOT a one size fits all approach. Every person's recovery is unique and what might work for one, may not work for you. If you're wondering if dating might create more problems for you, keep reading!

We'll look at specific signs that indicate that dating is threatening your recovery. Remember to take what you like and leave the rest!

Dating too fast 

Dating can be tricky in 12 step recovery 

Dating can be tricky in 12 step recovery 

Getting sober often occurs when a relationship ends. The disease destroys any attempts at healthy intimacy. In the depths of addiction you may pick anyone who pays attention to you since self-esteem is at an all time low.

You may have unfinished feelings about the previous relationship that weren't dealt with. Those feelings can pile up if you get into another relationship quickly. This is typical in early recovery so don't beat yourself up. It's about learning what works and what doesn't. 

Loneliness can be overwhelming and intense when getting sober. Having emotions without escaping into substances is a challenging task. Because addicts can be impulsive, it's not a huge surprise that they get into relationships quickly in an attempt to avoid the pain of being alone.

AA's "dating advice"

Old school AA says no dating for the first year of recovery. Why is do they say that? The first year of recovery triggers changes emotionally, physically and spiritually that take commitment. At first, you may be emotionally numb, scattered, like you are having to learn everything sober! A new relationship can take priority over recovery.

Once the initial period of sobriety is over, hidden feelings from the past surface and can trigger a desire to use again. Break ups and new relationships evoke intense emotions that you may be able to handle yet. This is why the no dating for a year guideline is often suggested.

If starting new relationships, they can become addictive for addicts and alcoholics. The pattern of obsessing on substances gets replaced with the new relationship. When this happens, you may try to control the other person out of fear. This almost always leads to problems. Recovery takes a back seat and self care goes out the window. 

If you don't feel good about yourself you'll likely pick partners that reflect that. Self-care is part of healthy self- esteem. People in early recovery tend to have quick, chaotic connections. They become committed on the first date. Looking at issues of self-esteem are an important part of your step work. The fourth step addresses this well.

If dating is impacting your recovery...

  • You get "exclusive" on the first few dates
  • Meetings take a backseat because you want to spend more time together
  • You fall for them mainly because of how they make you feel 
  • You have very limited criteria for who you pick
  • Neglecting friends and family for the new person creates issues later
  • Emotionally you feel out of control, jealous, and possessive
  • Out of fear, you attempt to control your partner

If you're already dating...  

  • Keep in touch with your sponsor
  • Keep up with your meetings
  • Make sure you have separate meetings  
  • Stay connected to friends and family
  • Maintain your independence
  • Get individual counseling if it's threatening your recovery
  • Don't disregard other's concerns if they see you struggling

Hope these tips help you recognize the pitfalls of dating too early. You have to decide for yourself but talking things out with another member can provide clarity. It's okay to reach out and get another point of view. Call or text me for a free 15 minute phone consultation.