It’s not recommended that you begin dating until you have at least one year of sobriety under your belt, since it takes time to become confident in your recovery. Once you’re ready to jump back into the dating pool, one important factor to consider will be how to share your recovery story with your partner.
Sharing Your Recovery Journey
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to sharing your recovery journey. Some people have no problem being 100% open from the beginning, while others prefer to protect their privacy. Trust your instincts, then use these tips from the staff at Waypoint Recovery Center’s South Carolina drug and alcohol addiction treatment program to guide the conversation.
You Don’t Have to Share Your Story Right Away
Relationships take time to develop, so there’s no need to feel as though you must share your entire life story immediately. When you’ve just started dating, the focus should be on whether you have mutually compatible personalities, interests, and goals. Take it slow, and work on determining if you see a future for the relationship before you worry about how to share your recovery story.
Sharing Is a Sign of Trust and Respect
Choosing to share your recovery story means that you trust and respect the person you’re dating. You may feel awkward divulging a sensitive part of your past, but sharing your story can help you take the relationship to the next level. Additionally, if you’re ready to start introducing this person to your friends and family, you want to make sure they know the basic details of your recovery before someone else shares the information on your behalf.
Focus on the Positive
You can’t change the past, so dwelling on previous mistakes is not productive. Your significant other doesn’t need to know every single unpleasant thing that happened in your life due to your substance abuse. Keep your conversation focused on these key facts: something happened to make you realize you had a problem, you got the treatment you needed to get sober, you’ve been working hard to build a new life for yourself free from drugs and alcohol, and you hope that you can continue to share your new life with your partner. A growth mindset helps you take your life—and your relationship—to the next level.
Stress That Recovery Is an Ongoing Process
One common misconception about addiction is that going through detox and residential treatment is all a person needs to be “cured” of their condition. Make sure your partner understands that addiction is a chronic illness. It can’t be cured, which means relapse is always a possibility. However, it can be managed effectively when you have access to evidence-based care tailored to meet your unique needs and are committed to putting your sobriety first.
Ask for What You Need
If you’ve decided to tell your partner about your recovery, it’s important to be upfront about what you need moving forward. Maybe you need to avoid making plans that will conflict with 12-Step meetings, or you’d prefer to avoid going places where alcohol will be served. Maybe you want support navigating a difficult relationship with family members who create unnecessary stress and drama in your life. Or, maybe you simply want the freedom to be able to talk about your daily recovery struggles with no shame or judgment. Think about how you’d like your partner to support you, then ask for what you want.
Be Prepared for Questions
Although struggles with addiction are very common, it’s a topic that’s hard for someone to understand if they haven’t gone through it personally. Once you’ve shared your recovery story, ask your partner if they have any questions for you. Try to provide answers that are as open and honest as possible—even if you’re simply admitting that you don’t know what the answer is at this time.
Be Willing to Walk Away
Ideally, your partner will embrace your recovery journey with open arms. However, this may not be the case. Some people may be dealing with their own personal struggles and not be prepared for the challenge of being in a relationship with someone in recovery. This is not a reflection on you, but you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who can provide the support you need to continue on your journey to lasting sobriety. Have faith that you will eventually find someone who is right for you.