Are you in recovery? Would you like to date but don’t want it to be a disaster? It is possible to develop a healthy dating life after addiction. Here are 10 tips that could help:
- Wait to Date.
Let’s say you just started recovery and are lonely. You think getting into another relationship will help you. It’s easy to become addicted to the “high” of a new relationship. So, it’s best to wait at least a year after you’ve started a recovery program and have started your sobriety.
- Put Your Recovery First.
Now that you’ve been sober for a year or longer, you may be tempted to set your recovery aside. But your recovery should come first. Always. Keep going through the 12 Steps and attending your Life Recovery Group. This is how you create good character, and a sober and clean new life, which will help any relationship be healthier.
- Develop a Good Support System.
Before you begin to date, make sure you have enough support people in your life. Staying involved with your Life Recovery Group is an effective way. Let your support people know you want to start dating; ask them for their honest input about dating in recovery. Ask them—as you begin to meet people—to help with any challenges you may encounter. It’s also good to introduce your support folks to any person who you may feel could be “the one.”
- Establish Physical Boundaries.
Know what your limitations are. If you are recovering from sexual addiction, this will be a challenge. Even if it isn’t your area of recovery, entering a sexual relationship before marriage can create difficulties in the relationship. Talk with your support people about any temptations you might be experiencing. God’s best is when you save sex for your spouse—and that might not be the person you are currently dating.
- Date Different People.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of dating only one person when you get back into dating. But plan to go on a few dates with a few different people. Some good places for meeting people include places you regularly go like church, classes, volunteer activities, and sports teams. Ask someone out for coffee or lunch. A casual meet up will allow you an opportunity to get to know each other.
- Choose Wisely.
Getting to know someone and understanding who they are as a person takes time. You can determine if they are a safe person to date and pursue a relationship with based on your values. You can ask questions to discover if addiction is part of their past. Help them to understand the importance of recovery in your life, and see if they share similar goals as yours. This is where you need to heed the advice of your support team—connect with them. Ask for help. And listen to their advice.
- Honesty is a Necessity.
Be real and upfront with anyone you date. You have been working on your recovery long enough and have told your story, so this will be another opportunity to share. Let them know you struggle with addiction and are in recovery. Likewise, expect them to be honest in return. The right person for you will be someone who understands you are in recovery, will not put you in compromising situations, and is open with you about their struggles.
- Beware of Codependency.
Codependency can become a form of addiction in relationships—it’s also another word for control. You have been working your recovery. This means you have learned about boundaries, working your side of the street, and owning your stuff. When you are practicing these things, you will avoid becoming codependent. And you will allow people to live their life without your control. You will experience a healthy connection as you avoid enmeshment and enabling others.
- Understanding Your Triggers.
Triggers are the things that happen which can cause us to use our old coping methods. When we work on our recovery, we will learn and have tools to use to address them. It can be helpful to avoid the places and people who may be triggers for you to go back to addiction. For example, if alcohol has been your struggle, it makes sense to avoid taking a date to a bar. Sometimes elements of relationships can reveal triggers, trust issues, past wounds, etc. This is an opportunity for healing in your life. Triggers just mean there is more healing to do.
- Take it Slowly.
The best way to develop a healthy relationship is to not rush the process. What if something happens in the relationship to derail your sobriety? There is no rush to a healthy relationship. It can be very rewarding to exercise your boundaries, practice your no, and take it slow. The best relationship is worth waiting for!