In recovery many people feel quite lonely, and it really is normal for someone to seek out the companionship of others.
However, a staple in recovery is that dating too early on in recovery really isn’t a good idea for a number of important reasons. But, what are these reasons?
For starters – you may use dating to fill a void, which is an unhealthy coping mechanism. Since you’ve eliminated a bad ‘habit’ from your life, you may throw yourself into a new relationship in an unhealthy/compulsive manner. Not only is this not good for your recovery – but it’s not fair to the other person.
Secondly, you may find your self either divulging too much or too little information to your new partner. As we all know – recovery is a learning experience, and early on you won’t have the experience to appropriately handle new dating situations. And, a good relationship is built upon open honesty – so you really don’t want to begin something new while covering up the real details of who you are.
Finally, do you really want to become a clinger? Ok, the reality is that this may not be something you see yourself becoming, but with the last two points it really adds up to the fact that there is a strong possibility that someone in early recovery may start feeling like they can’t live without the other person. And this is just yet another unhealthy activity that you shouldn’t have in your life at this time.
BUT, BUT, BUT…
Learning How to Date in Recovery
With that said, there will reach a time where it makes sense to expand your horizons and you will be ready to start dating as you’ve worked through your recovery.
Once you’ve grown as a person and learned the skills and new habits of your sober life – you will likely know when you’re ready!
DON’T FORGET, this will be different for everyone – and it is important to talk with your support system to be sure you really are ready to start dating
So, with that in mind – lets talk about some of the concerns most have when they start dating in their new sober life and how to deal with them:
Should You Date Someone in Recovery? What Will That Look Like?
Most people do not live in a bubble. In reality, you will meet, make friends, and potentially date people that do not adhere to a life of abstinence. If you are comfortable in your sobriety, dating can be less of a problem. It can also be less of a problem as well if the partner who is not sober is willing to simply work with you so that you can feel safe in your sobriety and in your relationship.
There are many ways to meet people in recovery, if you wish. For example, there are multiple sober dating apps that have been developed that filter out people who are sober in your area. This can be a great start to begin to meet people not in the rooms that may distract your recovery. There are also many local sober meet ups, fellowship opportunities, and may be recovery conferences in your area to meet likeminded people like yourself.
Furthermore, you will have the ability to connect with a lot of different people whom you may otherwise never encounter, which should help allay any possible concern or belief you may have about thinking you cannot find that right someone in the recovery community.
Keep the Focus On Your Recovery and Not on Your Partner
With anybody, sober or not, it is important that you know who you are and that you are comfortable with yourself. This is an especially important consideration for those of us in recovery.
We frequently forget who we are when we’re in active addiction and can often be full of guilt, shame, and remorse. This could do serious damage to our self-esteem and self-respect.
In recovery, we attempt to reverse the damage to build ourselves back up, and to learn to love and be comfortable with ourselves. The amount of time, focus, and energy that one needs to devote to this rebuilding will of course vary from person to person and will change over time as one makes progress.
A lot can be gleaned from the information one provides about their recovery. The recovery information also serves as the most obvious conversation starter as well, which can allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not, in your mind, the person is healthy enough to date or is up to your standards or expectations in their way of life.
Learning to Deal With Emotions
Romantic relationships cause a spectrum of emotions.
These emotions can often be overwhelming and intense. As such, they can be difficult and dangerous to face in early sobriety when we are generally fragile and unstable. It is true as well that many of us in our addictions dealt with these emotions by using, we chose not to actually face them. This makes the problem even worse
If we do not have the coping mechanisms or support, there is a good chance we will resort to the only way we dealt with it in the past. Of course, every one of us in recovery assuredly are going to date again, at some point. So it’s important that we focus on doing the things that can help make us emotionally stable, healthy, and independent so that we have control of our emotions, and not the other way around.
There can be many ways to casually connect with people you are interested in. It is a good way to re-enter the dating world in a way that there is very little pressure – this may include meeting people through friends or trying out a dating app. You have a lot more control over how quickly you want to move with someone, and you could keep a constant upkeep on your emotional well being.