Dating in early recovery can be a mixed bag. It can be a great way to meet new people and form connections, and for many people in recovery, dating can be an exciting new chapter.
However, dating in early recovery also comes with its fair share of risks. One of the main dangers is that early recovery is when people are particularly vulnerable to relapse.
If you decide to date in early recovery, read on for things you can do to lessen the risk of harm to your recovery program.
How Early Is Too Early?
There is no universal rule concerning when to start dating in recovery. However, many experts and 12-step guidelines recommend not dating for at least one year after becoming sober. The philosophy of this recommendation is understandable. In early recovery, we should focus on ourselves, learn how to cope with stress, and try to minimize emotional triggers.
Recovery is a time to establish boundaries, seek and accept support, and reflect on one’s well-being. Once someone has made significant progress in their recovery journey, they may be ready to consider dating.
Romantic relationships can be a source of support and happiness, but they can also be a source of stress and drama. Therefore, it is best for people in early recovery to wait until they are emotionally ready to handle the added stress of a relationship.
Ultimately, when to start dating in recovery is personal and should be made based on what feels right for you, given where you are in your journey.
What’s Good About Dating in Recovery
There is a lot to be gained for as much negativity that surrounds dating in sobriety. Therefore, it’s important to give just as much attention to the numerous benefits that recovery dating offers. Among these benefits are:
- Having a partner who understands you. If you decide to date a fellow addict in recovery, a unique bond and relationship can form. Someone else on the same path of recovery will understand your struggles in a way that nobody else can. This can lead to a more supportive and understanding relationship.
- Being able to relate to each other on a deeper level. For example, when two people have shared the experience of addiction, they often have a lot in common. This can lead to a level of intimacy and connection that is not always possible in other relationships.
- Constantly calling for personal growth. As you progress through your recovery, positive internal change naturally takes place. Honestly, learning about yourself and adjusting to detrimental behaviors is the main point of the steps.
Additionally, actively working in a recovery program requires addressing any traumas or toxic patterns in your life that might otherwise act as obstacles in future relationships. In other words, by doing this work on yourself now, you’re setting yourself up for even more success in relationships down the road.
If you’re dating someone in recovery, it’s important to be mindful and ensure that you’re both on the same page about staying sober.
Limitations and Challenges of Dating in Early Recovery
Dating in early recovery can be a tricky business. On the one hand, you’re probably feeling good about yourself for the first time in a long time. But, on the other hand, you’re also likely to meet new people and enjoy social activities.
However, there are also pitfalls to beware of. The excitement of a new relationship can lead to a shift in priorities, and you may find yourself neglecting the parts of your routine that were helping you stay sober. You may also expose yourself to more social situations where alcohol or substances are available.
The most significant risk of dating in early recovery is that when we form a romantic relationship too early without changing or examining the fundamentals of ourselves, we risk relapsing.
It’s essential to work on ourselves first to ensure a healthy, long-lasting relationship. Then, only when we’re confident in ourselves and our sobriety should we start considering dating again.
Suggestions for Successful Dating in Recovery
When it comes to dating in recovery, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some people feel ready to start dating soon after they begin treatment. In contrast, others need more time to focus on their recovery before they’re prepared to think about a romantic relationship. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re deciding when to start dating in recovery:
- Make sure you’re taking care of yourself first and foremost. It’s important to focus on your well-being during early recovery, and starting a new relationship can be a big responsibility. If you don’t feel like you’re in a good place mentally and emotionally, it may be best to wait until you’re feeling more stable.
- Be honest with yourself about your motivations for starting a new relationship. If you’re looking for someone to fill a void in your life, you’re likely not ready to date yet. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure that you’re entering into a relationship for the right reasons.
- Talk to your therapist or recovery coach about your decision. They can offer guidance and support as you navigate the dating world in recovery.
If you’re not ready to date, that’s perfectly okay. Recovery is a time for self-care and reflection, establishing structure, and controlling urges. Most weeks, Saturday nights are spent at 12-step meetings. That’s perfectly fine too. However, remember that there is no single right way to approach dating in early recovery—ultimately, you need to do what feels right for you.
While no set time determines when it is safe to date in early recovery, there are ways you may be able to assess your readiness. First, talk to your support network and get their opinion on whether dating is a good idea at this point in your recovery. Evaluate the emotional and mental gains you have made during your time in recovery so far. It is important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Make sure that you can truly love yourself before trying to love someone else. We need to ask ourselves our true intentions and make sure they align with our spiritual program. If we are honest with ourselves and our motives, we can make dating in recovery a positive experience for ourselves and our partners. For more information, call Restoration Recovery Center at (888) 290-0925.