Getting sober is one thing, but dating while sober is a completely different animal. During my first attempt at recovery I thought I was the cat’s meow and the bee’s knees. After all, I was a young 20-something contributing member of society; no longer taking advantage of those around me. I had my $9.00 per hour “recovery job” and rode the pink cloud, err rather, the city bus to it each day.
So, now that I was sober, there was nothing I can’t accomplish, right? After all – getting sober in itself was a true feat.
Well, just when I think I grasp hold of the dating department, no matter how much clean time I have, I find myself racking my brain with simple mistakes that I could have dodged. Other people tried to warn me about mistakes I would want to avoid, but I’m stubborn and don’t like to listen. Other mistakes I brought upon myself.
I could write a whole novel on mistakes I’ve made while dating, but here are just a few.
I Dated Way Too Soon
I think the earliest I ever dated in early sobriety was when I had just over five months. Five months compared to 15 years of constant using is nothing.
I didn’t know how to live without drugs and alcohol, and adding someone else into the mix was selfish to myself as well as to them. I often heard people saying to me, “Don’t date within the first year,” or “stay away from rehab-romances!”
I often thought in my head “that won’t happen to me.” Sure, I didn’t feel lonely anymore, but I found filling that void with meaningless physical contact left me feeling worse. I see now how I was distracting myself from the new way of life I was trying to live. My multiple attempts at sobriety were failed mostly because I put my wants before my needs – especially with dating.
I Always Waited for Someone to “Find” Me
I can pick who I want to date!?
What a concept! I carried the weight of my self-esteem issues and insecurities from my addiction into sobriety.
Self-worth was a big issue for me, and like many people who come into this program I often took the first and easiest thing that came my way, whether that be the drug or the relationship.
I didn’t realize I had the power to choose who I wanted to date – I usually waited until the guy came up to me and asked me out because I didn’t feel comfortable enough in my own skin to ask him first. However, after much painful digging and soul searching I’ve come to realize that I am a worthwhile person and can be confident enough to handle rejection and deal with it in a healthy manner.
I Didn’t Assess my Partners Sobriety
A little into a year of my previous stint at sobriety, I started dating someone that was also sober. (You know who you are). We had a couple of mutual friends and really hit it off. I was so caught up in the romance and fog of it all, that I didn’t care to take a look at what he was doing for his sobriety. One day he came over to my house and told me that he wanted to use.
My first reaction was “why are you telling me this? Go tell your support system and get your butt to a meeting!” Needless to say, there was a lot of unmet expectations and hurt feelings in our relationship, and when that fog started to settle I saw exactly what kind of program he was working – which wasn’t much of one. I’m not saying judge your significant other’s sobriety, however it would be wise to pay attention when you are dating to see if they are keeping their recovery first.
I Didn’t Take Care of Myself
I’ve been in crazy relationships where the other person and I are texting 24/7 and I can’t seem to get a breath of fresh air without the person’s name in my head. Often times we were tied to the hip, which each time ultimately led to my downfall. I failed to take care of myself and have my own time, just for me.
I used to forget that before this person came into my life I had my own life without them in it! Take some time to read a book, or meditate – alone. I remember that I decided to make a change because I was a broken person. I’ve been given a gift and now try to never lose sight of why I have it or where I came from.