• Staff Writer

How Do You Date During Recovery?

Updated: Feb 1

Once you're in recovery, you may feel like you have more confidence than you did when you first entered rehab. That is wonderful, and you should feel good.

However, sometimes, that newfound self-esteem can convince you to make moves you might not be ready for. You want to get back out there and meet people, maybe even try dating.

As you probably know, dating, even when casual, can be stressful. You are putting yourself out there, and it can be scary. Entering into such a risky situation in the middle of your recovery might not be the best idea for your long-term sobriety.

Are You Ready to Date in Recovery?

You've probably heard of the golden rule that you should be sober for at least a year before dating. Of course, everyone's situation is different, but there is a reason sponsors and professionals so highly recommend this.

Giving yourself a year to come to terms with your new lifestyle helps you adjust. You can take that time to get to know yourself all over again. You can make your program and your sobriety your priority.

Dating too early into your recovery can shift your goals and break your focus, leading to relapse or other addictive responses. With that, waiting a year can seem like a long time, but it is your best bet at finding a healthy relationship and remaining sober.

If you're unsure how you would handle dating during recovery, consider discussing it with your sponsor or therapist. They can guide you and ask you the right questions about why you want to date again. Are you lonely? Do you feel ready? Do you just want to socialize?

Your answers to these questions can help you realize what it is you want and what you're ready for.

The Risks of Dating in Recovery

If you feel that you have been sober long enough and feel confident that dating is a good next step for you, you should be prepared. You've probably dated before, but dating sober comes with a new set of hurdles you should know about before jumping in.

It is always important to have strong and supportive relationships during recovery, but those relationships can be with family and friends. They don't have to be romantic. According to Substance Abuse Research and Treatment, "it is important to maintain positive relationships and to engage self-agency to protect oneself from the influences of negative relationships."

That being said, dating is not always positive. Romantic relationships, especially during the early days of recovery, can be full of red flags and risks. Having solid friendships can help you remain on track and even encourage you to avoid triggers or unhealthy bonds.

Dating too early in recovery can lead you to replace your addiction to drugs or alcohol with relationships. That means you develop codependent relationships or even harmful ones because you are essentially addicted to filling the void you feel is there due to not using.

In this case, your happiness and confidence become dependent on others and on whether you are in a relationship or not. To remain healthy and sober, you need to be able to fulfill yourself before adding someone else to the mix.

Opening yourself up to potentially being hurt or rejected so early in recovery, or at any point, before you’re ready, can throw you into relapse. Being vulnerable in one part of your life affects your recovery in ways you may not realize.

If you have yet to learn coping strategies for stressful situations and triggers, a relationship may make things worse. Being lonely is not the worst part of recovery, but getting into a bad relationship could be the difference between your recovery or relapse.

How to Manage Dating During Recovery

If you feel like you are ready to date during recovery, there are some things you should know that will help. First off, only start dating if you genuinely believe it will benefit your life, not add more stress. If you feel like you are making healthy choices and that dating won't set you back, it could be time to take that step.

#1 Keep working on your recovery

Just because you've hit a point of your recovery where you feel confident doesn't mean things can't change. Continue to focus on your recovery. Go to meetings and therapy. Stopping all the hard work you've been putting in could reroute your recovery into a bad place. If you want to date, add that into your focus, don't let it refocus you.

#2 Be honest

You are sober so let your date know. Being honest about your recovery is essential. You want to date someone who can support and understand you, not someone who would judge you. If you are afraid to tell someone the truth about why you aren't drinking and instead lie about it, it opens you up to being secretive about other things leading to an unhealthy relationship.

#3 Take it slow

Don't rush into something because it feels good. Falling into a relationship too quickly can lead to a lot of change and a lot of stress. Take things slowly. If you rush things, you can develop an addiction to this person or the relationship without a real solid foundation.

Deciding if dating during recovery is the best choice for you can be complicated. You don't want to risk dating too early in your recovery. Risking your sobriety and health is never the right move, then again, you can't see the future. You don't know who you'll meet or how things will turn out. Even so, you can ask yourself the right questions to figure out if you are as ready as you can be to introduce dating back into your social calendar. You can learn to spot red flags by preparing yourself for the possible risks of dating in recovery and knowing when to pull back. Your recovery should always be your priority. Learning how to remain focused on your recovery and entertaining the possibility of dating is part of the process. Here at California Care Detox & Treatment we will help guide you through any hurdles in your recovery. Call us at (949) 281-0632.

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