Let’s face it: relationships aren’t always easy.
Most individuals who are in early recovery will be advised to avoid dating or at least steer clear of serious romantic relationships for at least the first year of sobriety.
There are good reasons for this advice. When a person has spent an extended period of time in an altered state, where their life has basically revolved around drinking and/or drugs, they tend to lose sight of who they really are. When they enter and commit to recovery, they have to rediscover themselves. Their personalities will have gone through some changes and, with that, their likes and dislikes. Trying to date someone when they are in the process of rebuilding themselves can be pretty dicey for both the person in recovery and their love interest.
If you find yourself in a budding relationship with someone who is in recovery, take it slowly.
Here are some things to keep in mind that will help guide you along the way.
Skeletons – Yes, everyone has some things in their past that can be a little sketchy, but someone in recovery may have an especially colorful past. If you choose to be with this person, be open to where they have been and show them acceptance.
Just say NO! – Addiction recovery has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to using or drinking. Your potential partner cannot “just have a drink” or use illicit drugs in any way. Keep this in mind and be considerate when you are out together.
Day in, Day out – Recovery is something that has to continue daily. Most of those in recovery attend regular meetings and sometimes have therapy as well. They will appreciate your patience and understanding that they have to dedicate so much time to recovery.
Relapse Happens – The disease of addiction is chronic and progressive, and not everyone gets past it the first time around. In other words, relapse happens. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the person has given up or doesn’t care. It is just part of the disease. If the person you are dating relapses, offer your support to help them get back into treatment.
Treat Yourself – Be sure you are taking care of you. Co-dependence is common among relationships that include an addicted individual. It is critical that you set healthy boundaries and address your own emotional needs.
Communication and understanding are important in every relationship. Individuals in recovery learn to be very introspective and aware of how they think and how their actions and attitudes affect themselves and those about them. Loving a person in recovery can bring new understanding to your other relationships as well.