Are You Ready to Date in Recovery?

Dating Tips in 12 Step Recovery.png

Dating in recovery can be tricky when sober- especially in the first year. 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 your sponsor, may not work for you. You'll learn ho to recognize the signs if dating is starting to threaten your recovery. Remember to take what you like and leave the rest!

Reason You May Be Dating Too Soon 

 Dating can be tricky in 12 step recovery 

Dating can be tricky in 12 step recovery 

1. Getting sober often occurs when a relationship ends. Addiction destroys any chance of healthy intimacy. In the depths of using you can pick anyone who pays attention to you since self-esteem is at an all time low.

2. You may have unfinished feelings about the last relationship that need to be handled. Those feelings of hurt and rejection can pile up if you get into another relationship quickly. You start to feel emotionally hung over- because you're not done grieving. It's about learning what works and what doesn't. 

3. Feelings of loneliness can be overwhelming 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.

12 Step Recovery "Dating Advice"

Old school AA says no dating for the first year of recovery. Why? The first year of recovery marks lots of 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 feel so intense that it takes priority over recovery.

Once the initial period of sobriety is over, buried feelings from the past can surface and 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 a new relationship, be careful. They can become addictive. 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 creates healthy self- esteem. You may notice that in early recovery your initial relationships are quick and a bit chaotic. You become committed on the first date. That's a wanting sign that you're going too fast. Looking at your relationship patterns 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 more time together
  • You fall for them because of how they make you feel 
  • You don't know how to pick
  • Neglecting friends and family for your new relationsh 
  • 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 ignore feedback if friends 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.


I’ve created a private resource library including 20 Ways to Detach with Love and 15 Steps to Setting Healthy Boundaries to help you create amazing relationships.   

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