Dating and relating can be challenging, to say the least. When you add the fact that the person you are seeing is a recovering addict, it adds a completely new spin onto things.
A Close Look
While it doesn’t necessarily have to be a deal breaker in a relationship, dating someone in recovery will challenge you to look at yourself and your partner carefully.
Do a Self Check
Before you start thinking about the other person in your relationship, spend some time looking at yourself and your motivation for choosing to date someone in recovery.
Are you looking to “rescue” or “fix” the person you are dating?
If that’s the case, the relationship may not last. A person in recovery can’t be fixed and doesn’t need to be rescued. They need to be responsible for taking appropriate actions on a daily basis to preserve their recovery.
Tips for Dating Someone in Recovery
Listen Carefully to How the Other Person Presents Themselves
If you have just met someone you are interested in, you are going to be listening carefully to everything they share about themselves. When your new friend talks about their addiction/recovery, listen to see whether they say that they are “recovering” or “in recovery.”
Someone who tries to tell you that they “used” to be an addict and is now cured should be avoided. Recovery is an ongoing process, and someone who is being honest will tell you that up front. A good sign is someone who is actively participating in a recovery plan and taking steps to look after their health by staying active, eating well and getting enough rest.
Educate Yourself About Addiction
It’s important for you to understand the disease the person you are seeing is dealing with on a daily basis. Visit your local library or look for online resources to learn about this subject. You can also check out government and educational websites for information.
Avoid Dating Someone in the Early Stages of Recovery
The first year or two of getting sober is challenging for most people. Adding the good stress of a new relationship is not recommended.
If you meet someone interesting during the early stages of recovery, exchange emails anyway. Ask the person to get in touch in three or six months if they would like to follow up. At that point, the two of you can go for coffee and renew your acquaintance.
You’ll Have to Decide How to Deal with your Partner’s Past
At some point while dating a person in recovery, someone is going to mention things that they did while they were using their drug of choice. You may find it hard to reconcile the stories that occurred during a binge with the person you know now, and it’s unlikely that they will be flattering.
Keep in Mind that There May be Unfinished Business
Not everything the person you are dating did in the past can be put into the category of a “mistake made during a binge.” They may have accumulated a large amount of debt, have criminal charges pending or have a criminal record. Your partner may be estranged from family members due to their addiction.
You’ll need to consider whether you are prepared to deal with the other person and their baggage as your relationship develops. It’s OK to set boundaries if someone has too much “stuff” from their past that may effect your present to pursue a relationship.
Examine your Beliefs About Addicts, Addiction and Trust
If you are in a relationship with someone in recovery, you will also be called on to examine your beliefs about addicts and whether you can trust them. Recovery is an ongoing process, and there is no point at which a person is “safe” or “over” their addiction. It’s something they need to monitor on a daily basis.
Understand that your Significant Other’s Recovery Will Come First
The person you are seeing may have ongoing appointments with addiction counselors or at support group meetings. They may also be attending 12-step meetings. These take priority over plans the two of you have made.
You Will Need to be Aware of your Partner’s Triggers
As you continue your relationship, you need to be aware of the sights, sounds and smells that trigger your partner into wanting to drink or use drugs. These need to be avoided. For some people it can be the clink of a glass, going into certain neighborhoods or driving by a place where they used to drink or do drugs.
Your partner may need to avoid some people who they used to drink or do drugs with. Be respectful of another person’s triggers; they can be a powerful influence to act out.
You May Need to Change your Social Habits, Too
When dating someone in recovery, ask your partner whether they mind if you order a drink with dinner when you go out. Be mindful of their response, and act accordingly.
You may also need to avoid certain types of social activities, such as wine tastings or boozy BBQs in favor of going on hikes, attending concerts or get-togethers where alcohol is not served.
Dating someone in recovery will require some adjustments and compromises, just like all relationships. Each relationship is unique, just like the two people in it.
- Advice for Dating a Person in Recovery. Zoosk.