Dating in Recovery and Relationships After Sobriety

Dating in Recovery

Many of us who have suffered in our addictions discover that we are addicted to more than a substance, once the substance is eliminated.  It is difficult to go through recovery in the beginning, and so easy to become distracted with a new love interest.  It is heavily suggested that people do not date for a year in their sobriety, but how many of us do it regardless of the suggestion?  I know how lonely I felt in the beginning of my recovery, but I also know when I got really serious about staying sober, I got serious about the suggestion to not date.  It is such a slippery slope, and if you are truly in recovery, the one person you need to learn how to have a relationship with, is yourself.

Recovery is an inside job.  There is a lot of emotional baggage that comes with our addictions, and though we don’t need to jump in and dig out everything all at once, we have to be very diligent about things like integrity, being honest, being present, and taking life in slowly rather than running through it like we did in our addictions.  Facing ourselves on a day to day basis, as a sober individual, is like discovering a whole new world, and then learning how to maneuver in it.  If you expect to be a good partner just because you are finally sober, think again.  There is a great deal of self-worth that must be established before you can be healthily involved with another human being, after several years of self-sabotaging.  There are habits that need to be broken, and behaviors which need to be looked at and changed.  This takes time and patience.  Recovery is something that takes a lot of inner healing, and self-love.  It is not fair to yourself, or anyone else, to take away from the process.  A relationship is a very big deal, and it also brings up a lot of emotional energy, which you may not be ready to face right away.  People bring up our emotional baggage – it’s just the way the universe balances us out, so that we have the ability to face it and then to heal.  In early recovery, it isn’t very wise to bring up all that turmoil through the likes of another human being.  It’s difficult enough doing it one day at a time living with yourself and everything that comes up for you on a day to day basis.  It’s even more difficult when the honeymoon phase of a new relationship ends, and you are sitting there raw with a partner without a drink in your hand to make everything seem dreamier than it truly is.  Anyway, don’t you want to learn to take care of yourself before you take on the heart of another human being? 

As far as continuing a relationship that was already established before you get sober, well, this is something very personal that must be dealt with delicately.  There are many factors that contribute to a person’s addiction, and sometimes, it’s a co-dependent partner.  Everything shifts when one person becomes sober, including the dynamics of a relationship.  Many partners are not comfortable with their newly sober mate, and on the other end of the spectrum, some partners are extremely supportive, but no matter what, nothing comes easily.  It takes work for both parties, which is why support groups can be extremely effective in helping people through relationship changes.  

We do not realize while we were busy getting high and drunk, how little changes in day to day activities can affect our moods, our state of being, or our focus.  We diluted life, so there was either UP, or DOWN.  There was no taking true responsibility, nor was there any clue to the nuances of day to day life.  We had drama, for certain, but we didn’t really know what we were feeling, because we were always trying to change how we felt.  Being sober is being raw, and this is kind of exciting, but it can also be confusing and scary.  Sometimes I change moods so often in one week, I question if I am mentally stable, but what I really get out of this, is that I am no longer able to hide behind a bottle, so I’ve got to face myself and all of these moods.  Instead of fighting myself, I look at my diet, my intake of vitamins, my sleep patterns.  I get curious about myself and take an interest in what is going on with me.  My point is, it takes a lot of time to establish our own patterns and to get to know ourselves when we are sober.  Having a partner brings up even more emotions, so it is really worth it to take that full year, or even longer, before you begin sharing your life with someone else. 

It’s a question you need to ask yourself – AM I SERIOUS ABOUT MY SOBRIETY?  If the answer is yes, then you will quickly clear a path for your life so that you have the space to run the distance.  Don’t let people get in the way of your recovery.  Don’t be distracted from healing.  Don’t be anxious to do anything because it will all fall into place at the exact right time.  It just will, because it simply does.  Life falls into place if you will only allow it to.  You will meet the right person, and you will be healthy enough to love that person when they come.  Just give yourself some space and allow yourself to do this thing without all the nonsense in between.  For once in your life, love yourself enough to abstain until you have no doubt that you are able to truly and unselfishly love another human being.