Your addiction may have taken over every aspect of your life, from your job to your relationships with people close to you. Getting back into the dating game and establishing healthy relationships can be a key milestone in your recovery from addiction. If relationship stresses were a factor in your addiction, however, you might shy away from dating out of fear of taking one or more steps backward in your recovery. You can overcome these fears by looking at dating as a tool that can and will enhance your recovery, and not as something that will threaten it.
The key to establishing healthy dating patterns is to associate with people who are equally committed to your recovery. Painful though it may be, you may have to cut yourself off from those people in your past who aren’t committed to your recovery and who still use addictive substances. Those people may think they’re helping you when they offer you something to take the edge off of your recovery. If you’ve made it far enough into recovery to think about dating, you will realize that their offers are anything but helpful.
If you’re committed to developing a healthy relationship, be honest with yourself and the person you want to date and make sure that he or she is as committed to your sobriety as you are. You’ll find it refreshing to be with someone who doesn’t obsess over alcohol or tobacco and who stays coherent throughout the entire date. Your special person won’t find it odd if you aren’t ordering a drink, and he or she will care enough about you to encourage you to stay away from alcohol and other addictive substances. If you’re participating in group or behavioral therapy as part of your addiction recovery, dating can be an extension of your therapy if your dating partner commits to acting as part of the support community you are forming to assist in your recovery.
If you are thinking about dating an addict who is in recovery, you may face challenges associated with being that support person. Most importantly, you’ll need to approach the relationship realistically and with an understanding that the person you are dating needs support and encouragement that may go above and beyond a typical dating scenario. Addicts are adept at manipulating people close to them. If you care enough about the recovering addict that you are dating, you will avoid this manipulation and treat your partner with what may be brutal honesty. You can best help a recovering addict by supporting his or her commitment to overcome an addiction, and not be becoming his or her addiction enabler.
Dating in recovery may add commitments and stresses to your own life, including attending therapy sessions with him or her and staying away from alcohol and other substances that could lead to his or her relapse. If you are unable or unwilling to take these steps, then you should reassess your own desire to date a person who is in recovery.
Successful addiction recovery will require the addict to remain sober in all aspects of his or her life. Addicts can help their own recovery by establishing healthy and sober relationships with others, and other people can help addicts to stay sober in those relationships. If you are interested in more ideas of how to further your recovery through sober dating, or if you are dating a recovering addict and you’re looking for ways to help that person in his or her recovery, please call our Hired Power staff at 800-910-9299. We’re committed to helping addicts and their loved ones to get sober and to stay sober and healthy as they develop substance-free lifestyles.