Online dating is a key part of building relationships in modern America. Over 30 percent of adults have used an online dating app, and nearly 50 percent of those ages 18 to 29. As one of the best ways to meet people in today’s digitally driven world, mobile dating apps are almost essential, especially among young people.
However, for people in recovery, the use of these dating apps raises an important question: “Should I mention my recovery in my dating profile?” There’s no universal answer, and what works for one person may not work for another. Before proclaiming an interest in sober dating—or intentionally hiding any hint of a sober lifestyle—carefully consider these pros and cons.
Pros of Mentioning Recovery
There can be benefits to mentioning recovery early on in the dating process, like in a dating profile. When all of the other details of one’s personal life are summarized in a short format for potential dates to peruse, it stands to reason that this important facet of daily living should be included, too.
Honesty and Transparency
Being in recovery is a huge part of life for those fighting addiction. The process dominates thoughts, actions, and activities— and that includes dating. Mentioning recovery in an online dating profile gets it out in the open and makes it clear to potential dates that sobriety is important.
This also allows any potential dates the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to date someone in recovery. This may seem prejudicial—and perhaps to a small degree it is—but it’s best to know from the start whether a partner is up to navigating the challenges unique to recovery. Stating your recovery may shrink the pool but can also reduce the likelihood of bad dates. When the information is available up front, it’s easier for users to make an evaluation.
Easy Way to Connect With Others in the Community
For those interested in dating within the recovery community, being candid can be a good way to connect with others in the community. By disclosing their sobriety, a person is better able to connect with supportive, like-minded people who share similar goals and values. Any awkward conversations can be avoided, and partners will have immediate common ground to discuss, either before getting together or while on a date.
Many first dates take place in bars, at parties, or in other locations where imbibing is expected. For many in recovery—especially those who have not been sober for very long—that can be a trigger.
Disclosing recovery makes it possible to plan dates in safe locations without problems. Potential partners will know about limitations from the start and thus recovering addicts can be open about what kinds of locations are appropriate. This can avoid awkwardness in last-minute location changes and preclude potentially challenging conversations about substance use, too.
Cons of Mentioning Recovery
While there are upsides to discussing recovery in a dating profile, there are also potential cons to consider that may make an early mention inappropriate or less than ideal.
Risk of Judgment
The stigma associated with addiction is starting to lessen as the awareness that addiction is a disease grows, but there’s still significant work to be done. As such, mentioning recovery or sobriety in a dating profile can result in judgment from dates. While most people will swipe left and keep moving, others may be more combative or say mean or derogatory things.
Potentially Smaller Dating Pool
Many people still shy away from the idea of substance abuse, so putting it out up front can drive away potential dates who may be okay with the idea later on. Some dates may be against the idea of dating someone in recovery in theory, only to realize later that a person’s benefits far outweigh any potential downsides.
In addition, the realities of recovery aren’t always clear to those who aren’t intimately familiar with the community. Those with misconceptions about getting clean may avoid a relationship for the wrong reasons. There’s great value in getting to know someone before learning their secrets.
Dating in the Community
The idea of dating within the recovery community comes with its own pros and cons. Some are for it while others are firmly against it. As with all things in relationships, dating within the community is a personal choice.
For many people, dating within the recovery community is a good way to maintain sobriety. Others in recovery are likely to take similar steps in avoiding the temptation of drug or alcohol use, making it easy to pick safe, neutral spots when getting together. Partners will be able to relate to one another and the complications that can come with sobriety in a way those without addiction issues can’t. Those in recovery may also be better able to provide support during periods of weakness.
Many of the benefits of dating within the recovery community come to an end should one partner relapse, however. Continuing to abstain from substances, especially when cravings strike, can be very difficult if a partner has slipped back into old habits. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for one person’s relapse to negatively affect the other, creating a cycle of unhealthy habits.
In spite of the potential pitfalls of dating another recovering substance user, dating outside the recovery community poses its own challenges. Those who have never experienced drug or alcohol abuse may not understand the lifelong commitment necessary for successful recovery. In addition, some people will not want to give up their own recreational substance use, like social drinking, just because a partner is sober, leading to temptation both in and out of the home.
If dating someone in recovery is absolutely key, consider trying a sober dating app.
Waiting Before Dating
Many addiction specialists recommend holding off on dating after getting sober. Focusing too soon on love and relationships can take the focus off of a healthy recovery and increase the likelihood of relapse. However, this mindset can lead to some confusion for newly recovered individuals as to when it’s appropriate to start dating in recovery.
There’s no magic period of time to wait to start dating. Some people may be ready after a few months, while others may wish to dedicate more time to rebuilding a healthy life before looking for love. Above all else, it’s important to go slow and only make choices that don’t compromise recovery. If going on too many dates or meeting too many new people leads to an increase in cravings, it may be time to slow down and step back.
Dating in recovery is a challenging process, and that includes the use of dating apps. Deciding whether or not to mention recovery in a dating profile can be a big part of success, guiding the process of finding partners in a safe, healthy way.
Contact FHE Health today to learn more about recovery and rehabilitation, including the full range of treatment programs available.