The good news is recovery is a life-saver, a life changer, and has helped thousands gain their lives back. The bad news is – it’s terrible for dating.
The ice breakers. The awkward silences. The small talk.
In general, dating is uncomfortable, frightening, and sometimes disappointing. But doing all of this sober? Don’t even think about it. Recovery is hard. And dating in sobriety is even harder – but many have done it, and many will continue to walk through the fear to find their potential partner.
Dating In Sobriety
In our addiction, we had liquid courage to make us more flirtatious or seem more outgoing. Maybe we’ve never really had sex without being under the influence. Maybe for a long time our lover has been that feeling of comfort we get when we’re lost in a drink or drug. However, when our lifestyles change, and we begin to get more healthy, our patterns and who we attract begins to change.
Whatever the case may be, dating can be daunting, nerve-wracking, and just plain confusing. No matter if we begin by swiping left or right on a dating app or try meeting someone at a social function – the fear of vulnerability and rejection can keep us stuck. Though, when we begin to experience it, it may not turn out so bad as it seems to be.
If you’ve recently started to date in sobriety, or have done so and failed, there are a few steps you can take next to guarantee that you’re looking, feeling, and are the best you can be to meet your next potential partner.
You can truly only love someone to the extent that you love yourself. In order to start a romantic or sexual relationship, we must have spent a lot of time getting to know ourselves. It’s important to know who we are when we don’t have a drink or drug in our hands – especially when the person we’re getting to know isn’t the type of person we would have been interested in our drinking days. These types of realizations and insights don’t often come overnight, and oftentimes they don’t come in a matter of weeks or months.
Hence, there’s been a rule that has been unspoken in treatment programs and support groups to not date for the first year. If you truly don’t know yourself and your pattens, jumping into a relationship too soon can fill the hole inside by replacing your drug of choice with something else.
Keep Sobriety Number One
If you want to start sharing your life, make sure you have a good one of your own first. As people in recovery, we tend to have an all-or-nothing mentality which over time we must challenge. Have a solid program of recovery, create a solid balance, and be sure to keep sobriety number one. Sometimes it’s annoying and inconvenient, but recovery should take priority above everything else. Relapse can remain a threat even with decades of sobriety.
Be Honest About Who You Are
Sobriety is an extremely personal achievement, so are you supposed to open up about it to someone you just met? The answer to this depends on a multitude of factors. With over 23 million people in recovery from addiction, there’s a good chance the person you are dating also has been affected by substance use disorder. However, a common rule is to not reveal the your sobriety at the forefront. The subject should come up in natural conversation when asked.
In general, after you’ve opened up about it, let a partner get to know you for who you really are – not for you you think they want you to be. Dating is a trial and error process. If the tone of the conversation changes when they hear you cannot drink, this form of rejection can cut down at someone’s identity. The important thing to remember is that if you do happen to get rejected over this matter, it’s not worth it in the long-run to continue seeing the person.
Assess The Potential
Once you’ve gotten to know the other person, assess whether the relationship is worth pursuing. If it’s only a way to fill your time and a way to make you feel better about yourself, it may not be the best potential partner. When you assess your relationship, there should be a number of characteristics you should identify.
- You respond to each others needs
- You practice effective communication
- You help one another learn about eachother
- You work together to repair hurts or mishaps
- You learn to accept the other persons quirks and flaws
It’s also important to remember that if you’ve spent a lot of time around others with addiction, it can be difficult to connect with people who are healthy and well. Make sure the time is right and you’ve done enough work on yourself. Who you choose as a partner can offer a wealth of information and insight into your own challenges. What attracted you to that person? Use what you discover to continue to work on yourself and the relationship. By continuing to work on your emotional health, you’ll be able to meet someone who is more capable to love and more emotionally mature.
The Great Thing About Dating in Sobriety
One of the best things about dating in sobriety is that people in recovery know how to take care of their mind, body, and soul. While some do it through exercise, hobbies, or 12-step involvement, others do it through prayer and mediation. Those in sobriety are always in a constant state of bettering themselves, and while it can be useful in resisting the temptation to drink, it can build a firm foundation for a relationship.