Dating is tricky for anyone. It’s difficult to meet new people and develop new ways of communicating and understanding a complete stranger. Putting yourself out in the world of dating can be scary and overwhelming. Dating in recovery makes an already complicated situation even more complicated.
For this reason, dating in recovery must be done with caution. You need to monitor your substance use disorder (SUD) symptoms carefully when you’re inviting a new person deep into your mind. Before dating in recovery, be mindful of your emotions, who you’re dating, and what you’re doing.
Prepare Before Dating in Recovery
Before you start dating, you will need to become comfortable refusing a drink or a potential offer of a substance. You don’t know if a situation will occur when you’ll need to refuse a substance, but you also don’t know that it won’t. There is an unpredictability that comes with dating – you can’t really know someone before getting to know them. Prepare to be put in uncomfortable situations and have exit strategies for getting out of them.
Know Your Recovery Story
Know the recovery story you want to tell. You don’t necessarily need to spill your heart out to someone, especially on a first date. If you find yourself in a long-term relationship, eventually, the subject will come up. Your recovery is a part of who you are and it’s not a part that you can conveniently exclude from a relationship. The more you get to know someone, the more you’ll feel comfortable telling your story. Contemplate if you’re ready to trust a person with that story.
Before a first date, it might help to decide what you feel comfortable telling right off the bat. Do you want to mention that you are in recovery so it’s not a surprise later down the line? How vague or specific do you want to be? It doesn’t matter what you decide to or not to share as long as you have a plan in case it comes up.
You will never feel secure in a relationship if you don’t feel secure with yourself. If you are struggling with feeling secure physically or emotionally, you might not be ready for a relationship. You must know and be supportive of yourself before you can know and support another person. If you are looking for a relationship to satisfy a mental health need, then you won’t find what you’re looking for.
You cannot solely rely on another person for your mental health needs. Not that you shouldn’t rely on anyone for help, but before dating in recovery you need to develop some self-reliance. Romantic relationships often involve sharing the burden of other people’s emotions. If you are currently lost on how to manage your own, it may be difficult for you to help somebody else manage theirs.
How Does Dating in Recovery Work?
For some people, dating may involve drinking and partying. However, there are plenty of dates you can go on devoid of both of these things. How easy it will be to plan a date without drinking and partying will largely depend on the type of person you find yourself dating. Some of this can be avoided by searching for love in sober spaces such as dating apps like Clean and Sober Love or Love in Recovery. Other dating apps have options to clarify your sobriety on your dating profile, making it easy to be upfront about your recovery.
If you meet someone in a non-sober space, you can avoid partying and drinking by suggesting doing something you know won’t involve such activities. You can suggest going to a movie, having dinner at a restaurant you know doesn’t serve alcohol, or having a daytime coffee date.
The Importance of Communication
Dating can only be successful if you have successful communication. Be honest about your wants, needs, and expectations, and ask the person you’re dating about theirs. When a problem arises, be clear about why you’re upset and ask the same from them.
From the beginning of the relationship, clarify how you generally like to handle confrontations, your preferred love language, and your pet peeves. The more you understand how you both experience and process emotions, the better off you will be. Most importantly, as situations come up, communicate comfort levels. If the person doesn’t respect your level of comfort with an activity or conversation, then that person isn’t right for you.
You Don’t Need Dating in Recovery
A secret that Valentine’s Day junkies won’t let you in on is that it’s okay to be single in your recovery. Not everyone needs to couple up to find happiness. Being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean you will no longer feel lonely or that you’ll suddenly feel worthy of love. You have to believe you are worthy.
Relationships take hard work and require extra emotional labor that not everyone has to give. You might not be meant to be in a relationship right now, or you might not be meant to be in a relationship ever and either is okay. This doesn’t mean you won’t experience happiness or love. It just means you will receive these emotions in different forms. Being single in recovery allows you to put your needs first and focus your emotional energy on healing.
Dating can be challenging if you are in recovery. Putting yourself out in the world of dating can be scary and overwhelming, but you have to believe you are worthy of loving someone else and receiving their love. It’s important to ask yourself questions about your readiness to date and if you are prepared to deal with any of the challenges that will arise. At Restoration Recovery Center, we are here to help give you control back over your life and equip you with the tools you need to live life with drugs or alcohol. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, please call Restoration Recovery Center at (888) 290-0925 for help.