Tips for Dating in Early Recovery

people dating in early recovery

Tips for Dating in Early Recovery

Recovery from addiction and alcoholism is a time for undistracted self-care, establishing structure and accountability, as well as learning to control urges and cravings.[1] Most of the time, individuals in early recovery spend their Saturday nights at 12-step meetings or support groups for addiction. However, some individuals feel the need to begin dating in early recovery. 

While it is never recommended to start dating in early recovery, many individuals will. Keeping that in mind, we must be realistic and proactive in providing vital tips and suggestions for those who decide to date in early recovery. Whether you are single and just getting sober, or you have begun recovery while in a relationship, here are some tips to help you date safely and intelligently.

Go to Professional Therapy

Recovery will always be an ongoing process of self-discovery and self-improvement. As a result, you should always attend professional therapy as an individual in recovery, no matter your current level of mental and emotional health.[2] Additionally, you should attend individual counseling as well as group therapy. However, the attendance of professional therapy becomes even more vital when you are dating in early recovery. 

Relationships are difficult, even without the complications of a substance use disorder. While we never want a relationship to end, most of them do. When someone deals with a breakup, many feelings and emotions arise. This can be especially dangerous for an individual in early recovery, as they are just learning to process and deal with emotions healthily. This is one of the many reasons therapy is vital while dating in early recovery. 

Be Honest About Your Recovery

Sometimes, people may be apprehensive to disclose the information of their membership to the addiction recovery community. This is typically due to fear of judgment or ridicule. However, you should always be honest with a potential significant other about your recovery. It’s extremely difficult to date someone without being honest about important factors of your life, especially when it has to do with an inability to drink. When you go on dates, your date will likely have a glass of wine at dinner, for example. Instead of coming up with excuses for not having a drink, be honest. This will prevent future relapses.

It is imperative to approach this topic honestly, as you would approach the rest of the relationship. Your sobriety is a major part of your life, and there is no need to be ashamed of the hard work you have done. Being upfront about your sobriety will help you to reduce the chance of a slip-up, avoid risky surroundings for dates, and weed out the people who might be uncomfortable with dating someone in recovery.

Have a Good Amount of Time Sober Before Dating in Recovery

Having a “good amount of sober time” is entirely subjective, as recovery is an individual process that varies from person to person. However, it is important to consider that most addiction specialists suggest waiting one full year before starting a new relationship. This is because the first year of sobriety should be focused on working the program and developing self-care techniques. 

Recovering addicts need time to learn how to cope with stressors and deal with urges or cravings to abuse substances. Beginning a new relationship too early in your recovery will add to those stressors and possibly tap into the parts of the brain associated with addiction.

Take Things Slow When Dating

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If you begin a serious relationship too soon, you may also be using the relationship as a way to soothe the urges in early recovery. In other words, you may be trading your substance addiction for love addiction. In fact, it is common for addicts to seek instant gratification and experience a transfer of addictions, especially in the earlier phases of recovery. Instead of jumping into a relationship, take time in sobriety to reset your dopamine receptors. Be aware that diving into a new relationship might trigger those same receptors, leading to a new addiction.

When beginning a relationship, ask yourself if you are going into it for the right reasons, or if you are using relationships as a distraction. If you are already in a relationship with someone, you should discuss with your partner the pace of your relationship. Always avoid making any big decisions within your first year, such as moving in together, adopting a pet, getting married, or having children.

Always Make Your Recovery a Priority 

To achieve successful, long-term sobriety, you must always prioritize your recovery first. Regardless of your relationship status, this remains true. However, this is extremely important to remember while dating in early recovery. Unfortunately, the excitement of a new relationship often leads to a shift in priorities. As a result, you may neglect aspects of your routine that helped you to stay sober. Additionally, you may begin to expose yourself to more social situations where alcohol, or other drugs, are available.

Instead of allowing your recovery to come second to your relationship, continue to perform all of the sobriety maintenance techniques you have been since day one. Your partner or significant other will understand and be grateful for the dedication that you have to maintain your sobriety. After all, anything an individual receives after becoming sober can be lost in the event of a relapse. Do not let a relationship cause you to slack in your recovery. 

Attending Addiction Treatment

Before you even begin thinking about dating in recovery, you should complete an addiction treatment program of your choosing. In doing so, you will obtain the education and tools needed to successfully remain sober over the course of your lifetime. If you or a loved one need treatment for a substance use disorder, contact Florida Recovery Group today. We can help you recover from addiction and equip you with the skills needed for a healthy relationship.