Relationships In Recovery: When is The Right Time?
If you speak to anyone who has any knowledge about relationships in recovery, they’ll most likely tell you not to date for your first year of sobriety. It is sound advice to listen to because sobriety is so elusive. One wrong step can send you right into a relapse. Here’s a timeline of what to know about starting new relationships early in your recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
In your first month of sobriety, you are more than likely in some kind of treatment. This is a key time to focus on yourself and heal after all the emotional and physical pain you have put your body through. Your emotions will be all over the place, you’ll feel sick, and the danger of relapse is extremely close as you detox and adjust to living without drugs or alcohol.
Avoid forming any kind of rehab romance, because these relationships have no basis. They only serve to distract both people from why they are at rehab to begin with, which is to focus on themselves. No matter how intense your feeling may be, you have only known that person for a few days or weeks, and chances are you barely know even a portion of their story. Do yourself a favor and spend month one focusing on you.
The next few months are all about about figuring out how to balance life. Balancing treatment, recovery, re-learning how to function, and work all while sober will be brand new to you. Just out of treatment, it’s a good idea to live in a sober home for a few months. It gives you some time to adjust to life in the “real” world and have accountability.
Most sober homes don’t allow members of the opposite sex on their properties, for good reason. These first few months are a time that you are building quality sober time, and the focus, once again, needs to be on you. The dangerous part about entering a relationship is that something is very likely to go wrong. When they do, you may not be emotionally strong enough to deal with the anger and pain, and that can read right to a relapse.
During this time, you have earned some quality sober time, so congratulate yourself. It’s a tricky time because you are probably quite used to living sober at this point, and you feel pretty strong. The danger is that you aren’t yet as strong as you think, so dating someone that early is probably not a good idea. Many people are still in halfway houses at this point. It’s better to have yourself established at work and in a home before you find a significant other.
These months can be absolutely pivotal for a recovering addict. You may be getting significant things in your life like your own apartment (if you didn’t already have one), a car, and a good job. You may have legal issues that are finally getting resolved. Think about all the hard work you put into yourself and how far you have come. There is no reason to jeopardize that with a premature relationship.
This time is a gray area, and one that some may say would be acceptable to start dating. However, the closer to a year you can push it, the better. You will have more sober time under your belt, you’ll be stronger, and you’ll continue to get to know yourself on a much higher level.
Think about yourself as a brand new person, one who is living a life free of drugs and alcohol. Chances are it has probably been a number of years since you lived this way, so everything is still new. If you don’t allow yourself time to get to know the new you, how can you expect to find someone good for you?
Learning to Live Without Relationships in Recovery
The first year of sobriety is all about learning how to live your life as a sober, responsible adult. You don’t yet know this side of you, so you need to give yourself the chance to figure out exactly what and who you are. Relationships in recovery are wonderful, but there is no need to rush into a new one too early. As a matter of fact, getting into an early relationship might put you in danger for codependency.
You also are in a world full of recovering addicts, who are going through the same things that you are. They have their own things they are working on and their own healing to do. They aren’t yet stable people themselves, but they may be a few months down the road.
Even if a person feels like your soulmate, you will both benefit by waiting it out. If the relationship is meant to be, the opportunity will still be there in a couple of months. At that point, you’ll be able to join forces as a mentally strong couple in recovery, whom other people might just even look up to.