If you are recovering from a substance use disorder, there may be times when you feel like the only people who understand you are other people who are recovering. There is comfort in a sense of shared experiences, but would dating when you are both in recovery offer a mutual support system, or a temptation to pick-up your old habits together? Consider these pros and cons of dating while in recovery.
When to Pause
It’s Too Soon.
The early stages of your sobriety are crucial to long-term addiction recovery success. If you have only been sober a few months, or weeks, you may not be in the right mindset to successfully begin a new relationship. Your thoughts and emotions will be less stable and you will feel less confident. Your focus should truly be on yourself and your work getting healthy. If it is meant to be, the person will still be in your life in a few months when you are more stable and ready to commit to the needs of another.
When Your Recoveries Depend on One Another.
Having support during recovery is essential, but whether or not you succeed will be solely the result of your own strength and resolution. If you feel you can only be sober if your partner is sober, you will put too much pressure on each other, and will be too reliant upon one another’s successes. Instead, focus on your own recovery. You are the only one that can determine whether or not you succeed.
If He or She is Not as Committed to Recovery as You Are.
Everyone’s recovery process follows a different pace. Each person faces their own unique challenges, triggers, and risks of setbacks. One of the greatest risks of experiencing a recovery setback while dating someone in recovery is if he or she has not made the same level of commitment that you have made. If you are dating someone who is at risk of experiencing a major, or even a minor setback, it could trigger your own relapse. Unless you are confident that your partner shares your commitment to recovery, entering into a relationship may only hinder your progress.
When to Proceed
When You Share a Connection.
For some individuals on the road to recovery, connecting with others who relate to your struggles and triumphs can lead to a lasting bond. The goal of the recovery process is to build the foundation for a long, and healthy, substance-free life. If during your recovery you find someone who can lend you support through mutual experiences, you may be able to form a healthy, lasting relationship based on support and understanding.
When The Other Person Allows You to Be Yourself.
Individuals in recovery may feel that they have to hide their desires, their pasts, and their struggles with those around them, except when they are with others who understand first hand the struggles of addiction. During your recovery you may feel that you can only truly be yourself when you are with others who are going through the same thing. Being in a relationship with someone who allows you to be yourself may be a critical part of your recovery process and may lend a foundation for a candid and honest relationship.
When You Commit to the Same Lifestyle.
People in recovery are forever aware of the lifestyle choices they make. Being in a social environment where others are drinking, smoking, or using drugs can put someone with substance use disorder at risk of experiencing a setback. Dating someone who has also chosen to live a lifestyle that is void of temptations may benefit you both. As a couple, you can choose to participate in safe activities, hobbies, and social situations that support your recovery goals.
Weigh Your Options but Never Forget Your Primary Goal.
When you are in recovery your number one priority in your life has to be yourself and your wellbeing. Having the support of loved ones, and even sharing the recovery process with other people who share your experience, are essential parts of the recovery process, but whether or not you choose to commit romantically is a personal decision. Having a thorough understanding of your potential partner’s commitment to recovery, and a confidence in your own treatment plan, must be weighed against any personal feelings before you decide whether or not to begin a relationship with someone else in recovery. Never hesitate to prioritize your own life over a potential relationship. A sober you will make the best partner when the time is right.
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