Let’s face it—dating under the best of circumstances is a roller coaster ride. The highs and lows that come with dating and relationships can test anyone’s emotional reserves, especially for someone in early recovery.
There is wisdom to be found in the advice so often imparted to people just starting their recovery journey. Basically, the newly sober are cautioned about dating, that it’s smart to wait a year before jumping back into the dating scene.
There is good reason for this common guidance. Many people will be busy rebuilding their lives during the first year of recovery. There are new healthy lifestyle habits to develop. There are careers to resurrect. There are finances to overhaul. There is purpose to be defined. More than all, there is a person to rediscover.
To delve into dating before this important work is completed may actually work against your recovery goals and set you back. During the first year following treatment, it is critical to place recovery as your number one priority. Introducing a new relationship during this period could distract you from maintaining this essential focus.
You will know when it feels right to begin dating again. It may be just 6 months or it might be 3 years. Each person will know when the time is right to introduce romance into daily life again.
6 Handy Sober Dating Community Tips
If you are considering re-entering the dating arena, here are some sober dating tips to keep in mind:
- Choose Carefully. There is a tendency to gravitate towards people who might be in active addiction, who may be emotionally unstable, or who are simply not healthy for you. Again, giving yourself time in early recovery to work on yourself and your own mental stability will help you better discern your choice of who to bring into your life.
- Prioritize Recovery. If your recovery isn’t in the top spot on your priority list no romance, regardless of how seemingly perfect, will survive. Don’t allow the emotional high of being in love to distract you from the real prize—sustained sobriety.
- Don’t Let Loneliness Blind You. Early recovery is often very lonely. New lifestyle choices mean that some of your usual social scenes or friendships must be passed by, which can lead to loneliness. Avoid letting it propel you towards unhealthy relationships in your haste to fill that void.
- Avoid Codependency. People in recovery may have lived in unhealthy codependent relationships while in active addiction. These types of dysfunctional relationships can leave entrenched habits and attitudes. Recognize signs of codependency early on when meeting new people.
- Take It Slow. While you may be completely enchanted by a new romantic interest, avoid the temptation to go all in right away. Allow yourselves time to really get to know each other before becoming too emotionally involved. This can buy time to see if the person is truly supportive of your recovery.
- Try Sober Dating Apps. When it is time to begin the dating process in recovery, you may not find potential prospects in your recovery support community or through friends. If that’s the case, try some of the sober dating apps, such as Loosid, Single and Sober, and Step Match.
Build a Sober Living Support Network
Even after putting aside the first year for working on yourself, dating in recovery can still present challenges. While some get lucky and meet the person of their dreams right away, this is the exception. Going through the typical hiccups of dating means trying to manage disappointment, frustration, and even the occasional broken heart.
With a solid sober living support network in place these emotional setbacks can be mitigated to some extent. Your sober posse is there to offer relationship guidance when needed, as well as the much-needed support when things don’t go as desired.
Continue to reinforce your sober support network. This means giving these important relationships as much as you receive. That well-known saying it true, that you reap what you sow in life. Meaningful recovery support doesn’t just happen; it is fed and grown over time just like a garden. As you venture back into the world of dating, continue to rely on your sober living network for nourishment.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.