Dating Someone In Recovery
It’s no secret that dating in today’s climate is pretty challenging. Social media has taken a larger role in the dating game, which has made it incredibly difficult to meet people the old-fashioned way. Now, we’re subjected to swiping left and swiping right on a myriad of dating apps as the best means to finding someone we’re compatible with. And let’s not even get started on the topic of catfishing.
So, when the right person does finally come around, not only do you have a sense of relief but also a sense of hope and excitement for the future. But what happens when, down the road, you discover that your new partner is a recovering addict? Will their sorted past be a dealer breaker for you?
Regardless of who they are and what they’ve been through, entering a committed relationship with someone is a decision that should be made very carefully. If your partner is a former addict, then there is much to take into consideration as well. It’s important to mention that there really is no such thing as a perfect person. Everyone battles their own demons every day. Just because your partner has had a difficult past with substance abuse doesn’t necessarily mean they are a terrible person. In fact, dating someone in recovery often means you’re with someone who has spent a lot of time working on improving themselves and their relationships.
It’s only natural to feel a little apprehensive about dating someone who is in recovery. However, it’s important to have a full and healthy perspective on what the relationship may entail and the potential it has to grow and prosper. However, just like any relationship, it’s important to have all the facts in front of you first. Below, we’ve outlined a guide to help you learn about the top tips for dating a recovering addict.
1. Learn Where They are in Their Recovery Journey
Like in any relationship, it’s important to learn what you can about your partner. This is where the foundation for your relationship starts. Not to mention, some find this to be the fun part about dating — learning about their likes, dislikes, common interests, etc. However, dating someone in recovery may look a little different due to their sober lifestyle. While your partner gets to know you, make sure you get to know them too — specifically, learn about their sobriety and where they are in their recovery journey.
What stage of recovery they are in isn’t a trivial detail and shouldn’t be viewed as an intrusive question. This is a very important detail because it can make a difference in how your relationship plays out — i.e., if there need to be certain boundaries in place or if things have to be taken slower.
Not to mention, those in recovery are generally advised to avoid dating within their first year of sobriety. This is primarily because their first year of sobriety is meant for them to learn what it’s like to live without using substances.
During this important year, they are re-learning how to take care of themselves, find enjoyment in life, and communicate effectively as a sober person. Many times, throwing a relationship into the mix of this developmental period can jeopardize one’s sobriety— especially if the relationship doesn’t work out. The stress of a breakup can trigger their substance abuse and put them back at square one.
Therefore, you’ll want to heed caution if the person you are dating mentions that they’ve only been in recovery for a year or less. Engaging in relationships before they are advised to could be a sign that they aren’t putting the needs of their sobriety first and, perhaps, not taking their recovery as seriously as they should. However, if they have exceeded their one-year mark, you can rest a little easier knowing that they are well-established in their recovery.
2. Heal Yourself First
Fights, arguments, and problems arise in relationships all the time, but it takes two healthy people to work through these problems together in order to strengthen the relationship. That’s why it’s so important to work on yourself first before entering a relationship — especially if you’re dating someone who is in recovery.
It’s not uncommon for relationships to fail because one party struggled to face their own problems in their life. Unfortunately, this happens way too often in relationships where the person in recovery was actively working on themselves, but their partner wasn’t. If your partner is working hard each and every day to create the best version of themselves, then you should put in the effort to do the same. Two happy, healthy, and healing individuals make for a stronger relationship.
3. Always Show Your Support for Them
Support is another important facet to the foundation of a healthy relationship and one that has to be given both ways. When you’re dating someone in recovery, they are going to need your support more often than not to help through their more challenging days. It’s not your job to fix them, but you might need to be their cheerleader from time to time.
There will be times where you will need to work your schedule and social plans around their needs — like when they need to see their therapist or attend weekly group meetings. It won’t always be easy, and you might have to cancel plans here and there, but you have to remember that it’s all for your partner’s greater good. Showing your support instead of your frustration will go far.
Not to mention, there will be times where your partner has the urge to use again. If they are using the tools they learned in treatment, chances are, they will need to go to an AA/NA meeting ASAP — no matter what they are doing at that moment, and even if they are spending quality time with you. If this seems like it will be too much to handle for you, then you may need to reevaluate your relationship.
4. Educate Yourself on Addiction and Recovery
Think about it — let’s say you’re dating someone who has a deep affinity for a certain sport or pastime. It’s something they have such a great passion for, and maybe they even modeled their career choice after it. Wouldn’t you want to educate yourself more on this hobby? By learning more about their passions, you’re actually learning more about your partner. This same concept can be applied to your partner and their sobriety journey.
Obviously, the person you are dating is going to have passions and hobbies that are outside the realm of sobriety, but their recovery from addiction is one of the most important things in their life. For someone who has never dealt with addiction firsthand, it’s difficult to understand exactly what your partner is going through and why they need to do things a certain way. If you truly care about the person you’re with, and you want to strengthen your relationship, try to educate yourself more on addiction and recovery.
Do your research; learn about the twisted ways of addiction and how it occurs. Look into the recovery process and what it entails. Educate yourself — you’ll thank yourself later, and so will your partner.
5. Be Aware of Your Partner’s Triggers
Individuals in recovery from addiction are known to have a variety of triggers that gives them the urge to drink or use drugs. These triggers can derive from sights, sounds, situations, and locations — whatever reminds them of their former days of substance abuse.
When you’re dating someone in recovery, it’s imperative to understand these triggers and, importantly, help your partner avoid them. Unfortunately, many believe this is as simple as avoiding bars or social gathers, but that reality is so much more complicated. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your partner about their personal triggers. Together, you can work on taking proactive measures if and when they begin experiencing them, as well as managing potential exposure.
As time goes on and your partner continues to work the program, those triggers and cravings will begin to diminish, but they’ll never fully go away. You will have to mindful of the potential risk of relapse for as long as you are together. Again, if you believe this is something you are not equipped to handle, you should think twice before committing to a relationship with someone in recovery.
6. Don’t Mistake Manipulation for Love
Individuals who are in the worst stages of their addiction are notorious for becoming master manipulators. They will do anything and everything to convince their family, friends, and coworkers that their problems with addiction do not exist and they don’t need help or treatment. Many times, individuals will learn how to manage and discontinue this behavior during their time in treatment, but, unfortunately, many transfer this toxic behavior to their relationships.
When dating a recovering addict, it’s extremely important that you don’t allow them to use their recovery as a constant scapegoat or mistake their manipulation as their way of expressing their love. Just because they are recovering from substance abuse doesn’t mean they have an excuse to be manipulative and unfaithful to you.
Recovering addict or not, you deserve the same amount of respect that you would expect to receive from anyone else.
7.Trusting One Another is Essential
Just like support, trust is a critical component of a relationship’s foundation. Every relationship needs trust in order to survive and prosper — without it, both parties won’t be truly happy or at peace with their significant other.
While trust is essential in any relationship, it’s even more important when you’re dating someone in recovery. Individuals in recovery work hard every day to stay sober and be the person they can be proud of. When you question their integrity and show signs of mistrust, it can have a major impact on their self-esteem. The last thing you want to do is cause them self-doubt.
It’s okay to be concerned about them, and to worry is only natural, but when you start to constantly question their whereabouts, you’re only hurting your relationship. Soon, resentment will start to settle in on both sides, and repairing the relationship will be quite difficult.
Unless there are clear signs of substance abuse or shady behavior, it’s important to keep a level head and open mind. Trust takes time to build, but it’s also very easy to lose.
8. Your Own Self-Care is Essential
When you’re dating someone in recovery, it’s very easy to fall into the pattern of attending to their own needs before addressing your own. This is especially true for people who tend to be caring by nature. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking care of the people you love most, but you have to make sure you’re taking time for your own needs as well.
For a relationship to work, there has to be an equal balance in everything. Just because your significant other is in recovery and has specific needs of their own doesn’t mean they get a pass on taking care and help you. The both of you have to be a team. And the both of you should always take time for yourselves.
Try to practice self-care as often as you can. When you aren’t being burdened down by work and responsibilities, make time in your schedule to do the things that you love or are relaxing — try your hand at yoga and meditation. Remember to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet, get plenty of exercise, establish a normal sleep routine, and find healthy activities that are also stress relieving.
Are You Ready for the Commitment?
There are a lot of things to keep in mind when you’re dating a recovering addict. But just like any relationship, the both of you have to put in the effort to make it work. The idea of dating someone who once abused drugs or alcohol may seem daunting at first, but it’s important to remember that their past mistakes don’t define who they are. No one is perfect, but at least they are working tirelessly to maintain their sobriety and create a better life for themselves.
In your relationship, you will have obstacles to hurdle, but don’t let these difficult moments make you feel like dating someone in recovery isn’t worth the effort. If the good moments outweigh the bad, you may have something — someone — worth fighting for. All that matters is that the two of you are committed to each other and strive each day to keep yourselves and your relationship healthy and happy.
If you or your significant other is struggling with addiction, please call the professionals at Find Addiction Rehabs. We are available around the clock to provide you with our expansive network of addiction treatment resources. Find Addiction Rehabs is here to help you get started on your journey to sobriety.