Individuals in recovery from substance abuse may find it difficult to get back or get into the dating scene. Everyone wants to feel accepted and loved, and we often tend to look for these things from a potential partner.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to meet someone special, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re getting into so you don’t end up sidetracked, or worse.
Remember that recovery is an ongoing process, so if you’re serious about meeting and dating someone, it’s important to look for drug rehab centers that can offer the right advice on how to approach it. Below are a few helpful tips that will help you find the right balance when searching for love while undergoing addiction recovery.
1. Take it Slow
People recovering from addiction are usually advised to abstain from dating in their first year of recovery. For instance, if you’re a recovering alcoholic, it may complicate your situation to go out with someone who drinks. Waiting until you have a stronger foundation of recovery lets you override potential impulses and protects you from the risk of relapse.
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Also, there’s no way to know someone right away. That person may be an ‘enabler’ and may try to tempt you into falling back into bad habits. An enabler is someone who, instead of helping you recover from an addiction, allows you (intentionally or unintentionally) to relapse or continue with an addiction. As such, instead of rushing into having a romantic connection, ease into it and make sure that your focus is still on your own healing.
2. Be Upfront
As a general rule, it’s wise to share with a potential partner that you’re in recovery early on. You don’t need to go into detail until asked, but it’s good to let a prospective partner know you for who you are instead of pretending to be someone else.
Furthermore, being honest isn’t highlighting everything that’s unattractive about yourself. There’s a certain finesse to dating; instead of unloading every single detail about each other in go, you give everything time to sink in so you can also reflect on how well you match with one another.
3. Your Recovery Comes First
This can’t be stressed enough for individuals in their early recovery stage. Even those who are free from substance abuse for years can do well to follow this advice.
Avoid enablers as much as possible. And if you have found someone who understands that you’re in recovery, give them time to learn what your program consists of.
If you’re dating someone who is also undergoing recovery, this can be very helpful in your own personal healing. This person understands your struggles and deeply shares in your triumphs — which in turn, can foster better and faster recovery. It can also make it easier to avoid triggers together.
4. Choose an Emotionally Mature Partner
Discerning an emotionally healthy and mature partner from a toxic one isn’t easy for anyone, including for individuals undergoing recovery. There are, however, tell-tale signs you can watch out for that indicates a person is emotionally mature:
- They’re accountable for their decisions and mistakes.
- They can admit when they’re wrong.
- They recognize and share their feelings and needs.
- They have boundaries on what they will or won’t allow in their lives.
- They are emphatic and want to help with your recovery.
- They make an effort to know more about your addiction and recovery.
- They will help you avoid situations that may trigger a relapse.
There’s no such thing as a perfect person to love. Both of you have to put in the time and effort to make a relationship work. This is why, if you’re still in early recovery, you may not be able to focus on getting yourself better if you become too concerned about making a relationship work.
5. Pick Out Locations That Are Trigger-Free
You may have heard a version of the popular saying, “it’s not about where you are, but who you’re with.”
If you’re in recovery, where you are definitely plays a factor for your personal healing. There are plenty of places you can go on dates that don’t have alcohol or drugs, such as the local museum, botanical garden, a bookstore, or a zoo.
Aside from distancing yourself away from addictive substances, you also enjoy the benefit of getting to know someone on a deeper level when you don’t limit dates to just clubs and bars.
6. Prepare Yourself
As amazing and as exciting as it feels to date, you also make yourself vulnerable to experiencing devastating lows, which may complicate your mental health. As mentioned in the previous tip, your recovery is your highest priority, so it’s important to be vigilant against threats to your recovery.
In addition, there’s also a higher risk of relapse during or after a breakup. The best way to preserve your emotional and mental well-being is to tell yourself that anything can happen, regardless of how great or wonderful you think the relationship is going so far.
While in recovery, it’s important to set a healthy pace that fulfills your emotional needs while keeping you on track with your healing. You may find it difficult to connect with others at first, but after you spend some time working on yourself and figuring out what you need, then you have a good chance of finding a healthy and loving relationship.