It’s natural to be a little apprehensive about dating someone in recovery, but it’s important to keep a healthy perspective on what your relationship will involve.
This post outlines 8 helpful tips to consider as you’re getting to know your partner.
1. Take It Slow
Jumping headfirst into a new relationship is never a great idea, but it’s especially important to take it slow when you’re dating someone in recovery. Focus on getting to know each other as people before rushing into a physically intimate relationship
If you’re thinking about a relationship with someone who is in the very early stages of recovery, however, it may be best to wait until he or she is more secure in sobriety. It takes time for the brain and body to adjust to living a sober life. You can’t rush the process, even for love.
2. Remember It’s Not Your Job to Fix Anyone
Keep in mind that you can’t fix problems for your partner. You can be a source of love, encouragement, and support, but the decision to remain in recovery belongs to your partner alone.
If your attraction is based on a desire to rescue someone in need, you may be suffering from codependency. This condition is characterized by an excessive emotional, physical, and psychological reliance on another person to boost your own self-esteem. Codependent relationships are not healthy for either partner.
3. Be Ready to Accept the Consequences
People in recovery often have a number of challenging issues in their past. For example, they may have a criminal record, serious financial problems, or a child they’ve lost custody of.
Past mistakes don’t have to be a deal breaker, but it’s important to think about what you’re getting into if you decide to move forward. When the relationship becomes serious, your partner’s problems will be yours as well.
4. Educate Yourself
To be a supportive partner, you need to have a solid understanding of substance abuse and recovery. Visit sites such as DrugAbuse.gov and SAMHSA.gov to learn more about the latest research into the nature of addiction. You can also find a wealth of information resources at your local public library.
Additionally, attending a support group for the friends and family of those in recovery may be beneficial. These groups let you learn more about addiction and recovery while providing a sympathetic ear when you face challenges in your relationship.
5. Put Recovery First
People in recovery typically have a lot of meetings and appointments to attend. This can make it hard to plan dates and other social activities, but your partner’s recovery needs to be the priority in your relationship. Time spent with addiction counselors and support groups is an investment in a better future for both of you.
Putting recovery first may also mean that you need to think about planning dates carefully. For example, it’s common for people in the earlier stages of recovery to be uncomfortable in places where alcohol is being served. Instead of going to a club or bar, you may need to see a movie, go on a picnic, or entertain like-minded friends at home.
6. Understand Your Partner’s Triggers
People in recovery all have certain sights, sounds, and situations that can trigger the urge to drink or use drugs. For example, visiting a place that one used to go while intoxicated is a common trigger. Talk to your partner about his or her cravings and what triggers the urge to use.
Once you understand your partner’s triggers, you can work together to be proactive about managing exposure. The intensity of your partner’s cravings will likely diminish as time passes, but addiction is a chronic illness. This means you’ll have to be mindful of the risk of relapse as long as you’re together.
7. Don’t Neglect Self-Care
When you love someone in recovery, you can often become so preoccupied with their needs that you forget to focus on caring for yourself. No matter how complicated your relationship gets, you need to make time for well-balanced meals, exercise, sleep, and stress-relieving activities.
Self-care is not selfish. Taking care of your own needs gives you the strength to fully participate in the relationship.
8. Remember That All Relationships Are Complicated
While being in a relationship with someone who is in recovery can be difficult at times, it’s important to keep in mind that all relationships have their challenges. Every couple has disagreements and obstacles to navigate.
As long as you’re committed to working through the rough patches with an open mind and a clear head, a recovering addict can make an excellent partner.