In the early stages of addiction recovery, you will likely gain refreshing clarity. That may lead you to wonder when you will be ready to include a significant other on your life’s journey. How do you know when you will be ready? What steps should you take to manage dating in recovery successfully? Let’s take a look at some valuable tips to help you get back into the game when you’re ready.
Dating in recovery: what does a healthy relationship look like?
If you have failed relationships in your past, you might have a hard time picturing a healthy romantic relationship. This is especially true if the reasons you struggled in relationships are related to your addiction.
Every relationship is unique. There are are dynamics that will surely change depending on the personalities at play and on the fact that you’re newly sober. However, there are some key ideas you can look to that define healthy relationships.
Ask yourself if you’re ready
Being in the recovery community means being able to admit there is a problem. If you are going to let people into your inner circle, it’s important to be up-front with them early on. Consider these ideas:
- If you aren’t looking for someone to take care of you, you may be ready.
- Do you feel able to deal with disappointments and emotional difficulties without turning to drugs or alcohol? You may be ready.
- Can you be up-front about your addiction issues and about staying sober? You may be ready.
Healthy relationships are possible even in early recovery, but experts advise waiting til a year of recovery may be a better idea. You will more likely be grounded in your sobriety. You’ll also be less likely to replace your addiction with love.
Consider the weight of emotional connections
Once you’ve decided you are secure in your sobriety, there are 13 key characteristics of healthy relationships to consider:
This is the foundation of emotional intimacy. It allows both people to feel secure in the relationship.
Communicating honestly and respectfully – even about uncomfortable topics or feelings that make us feel vulnerable – is paramount to a successful relationship.
As you and your partner get to know each other, you will undoubtedly learn about each other’s quirks. Sometimes those quirks may be annoying. Be patient. Flexibility and adjustments will allow you to be with each other in peace.
People in healthy relationships are able to see the other’s perspective even if they don’t agree. It’s important for recovering addicts to have partners who are happy in moments of triumph and who will provide support at moments of weakness.
5. Affection and interest
Expressing physical affection and intellectual interest in one another helps to solidify your bond.
Both partners should be able to be flexible with each other to be able to reach a compromise.
Express gratitude, love and appreciation towards each other regularly.
People grow, change and adapt their whole lives. This is true when we are in relationships as well. Are you willing to experience growth and support growth in your partner? That likely means adapting to change as well.
People in healthy relationships don’t belittle, invalidate or debase their partners. This includes respecting each other when you are in each other’s presence and when you’re not.
Do for each other what is needed. It’s not about keeping score. Instead, it’s about reaching a level of comfort regarding feeling supported.
11. Healthy conflict resolution
You can experience disagreements and arguments, but it is essential that you resolve them without any sort of violence, stonewalling or belittling.
12. Individual boundaries
Respect each other’s individuality. You are your own person as is your partner.
Be open about mistakes, misgivings, feelings, thoughts and emotions. Talk transparently about your dreams, wants, desires and fears.
Don’t allow enabling
Life’s curve balls can spark triggers for people in recovery. It’s crucial to your sobriety and to your relationship that your partner does not enable you.
It may start small, but it’s a slippery slope. You may decide to have a drink and ask your partner to lie about why you couldn’t make it to work when you. That could then lead to lying to friends and family, hiding addictive behaviors or even buying drugs or alcohol for you.
If you begin to struggle with your sobriety, ask your partner for help. Be open and honest. Go to support group meetings. Avoid allowing your partner to enable your addiction.
Be prepared for disagreements
Romantic relationships will very likely come with disagreements. Some will be more intense than others. Even when you try to be patient, flexible and empathetic, resolving issues peacefully can sometimes be difficult.
If one of you goes storming off, have a plan in place that helps you steer clear of your addictions:
- call your sponsor or anyone else in your support circle
- distract yourself with a physical activity or your favorite hobby
- meditate or pray
- give your sobriety and the effort you put into leaving your addiction behind the respect they deserve
Share this video with a friend in recovery who wants to get back to dating:
We can help you
At The Blackberry Center, you will have the opportunity to begin the journey to lifelong recovery in our state-of-the-art facilities.
If you or one of your loved ones are struggling with addiction, we can help. We use a personalized approach to addiction treatment. Our focus is on treating the disease, not the symptoms. We put our patients first every step of the way.
Our substance abuse-only treatment programs include detox, residential and PHP. Our on-site rehab programs focus on a comprehensive recovery approach. They address your physical, mental and spiritual needs for optimal wellness. Your needs are unique. We treat you as such.
Reach out for help today
You may be struggling with long-term addiction. Or you may be fighting strong temptations. We can meet you where you are in your fight for sobriety.
We welcome you to our treatment center. From support groups to individual therapy treatment options, we are here to fight the battle with you.
Reach out to us online today. You can also call us at 888-512-9802.
Sasha deBeausset is a nutritional anthropologist and licensed nutritionist with a B.A. from Tufts University and a M.Sc. in Food and Nutrition from the University of San Carlos. She has been awarded for her academic writing and research, and she has been blogging on food, health, and nutrition for over five years. Sasha is passionate about contributing to making quality and research-based information available freely on the web so people can inform themselves and make better decisions for their health.