Before someone in recovery even thinks about dating or getting into a relationship, it is highly recommended that they have a year of sobriety under their belt.
Many people in recovery do not want to wait a year and thus find themselves in a relationship way too soon. This is treading dangerous waters, as break-ups are a common cause for relapse. A common occurrence in the rooms of NA and AA is people ‘hooking up.” Although it is comforting to be with someone else in the program because they understand the program and the recovery experience, the downfall comes if/when the relationship does not work out. Both people are left feeling uncomfortable going to the meetings where the other person may be. They are left having to seek out new meetings and perhaps a new sober network. Don’t let this happen to you: sobriety needs to come first and foremost so that you can eventually have a happy, healthy relationship.
Staying grounded and happy in recovery is the top priority. In a new relationship, it will be important to talk about your life in recovery. But when, and how?
First of all, it depends on how you met the person. If you are on a blind first date with someone you met online, it is probably not necessary to tell the person you are in recovery. But if you like the person and agree to meet again, you’ll want to consider sharing your experience sooner than later. Be honest with your date. If this new person frequents the bar as a way to socialize and relax, will they feel comfortable leaving you at home if you need to avoid temptation? Be rigorously honest with yourself, too. What kind of relationship do you want to have? Will you be comfortable with a partner who frequently drinks? In active addiction, you may have become used to lying to yourself. When you felt uncomfortable with someone’s words or actions, or with a situation, it was easier to push down those feelings with a pill, a smoke, a drink, etc. Now you do not have that crutch.
Now is a growing time, and being honest with yourself is the first step. Only you know the answer.
Another dating tip is to listen to the person you are with; people will tell a lot about themselves. If you think the person is a big drinker or uses drugs–or even cigarettes–ask yourself if this is something that you can put up with for the long haul.
When you do choose to talk about your recovery, remember that people who do not have experience with addiction may not be familiar with AA, NA, recovery homes, rehabs, and other aspects of your history. Be patient with their questions and allow them to have their reactions. If they choose to end the relationship, you’ll know that they were not the right person for you.
A final recommendation: share your recovery with a person before the relationship becomes physical. Sex changes the relationship, bringing emotions and expectations more strongly into play. It will probably be more difficult to share your recovery with your partner at this point. Your partner may feel as if you have been deceitful. Just as you want to make healthy choices for your life, it is only right to give this gift to the person that you care about. You want your new relationship to be built on honesty and trust.