No one can tell you what you need to do before you start a relationship in recovery. Everyone’s circumstances are different and while some people may need to do quite a few things, more than five of them I am sure, you may need to do nothing at all. This post is merely to give a few simple suggestions and to get your mind thinking a little bit about relationships regardless if you are thinking about getting into one, are newly in one or have been in one for a long time.
Here are 5 things to do before you start a relationship once you are sober:
- The first and most obvious thing to do before you start a relationship is to know what you want.
What is the point in starting a relationship if you don’t know what it is you want? When thinking about what you want you should be thinking big picture. Maybe you want to date a few people at once? Maybe you want to fall in love and be in a monogamous relationship? Whether it is something casual or something committed, relationships are way easier when you know what you want out of the experience which is essentially what you have to offer to the other person too.
Another part of realizing what you want is to actually list qualities you want in a partner. This could mean religious values, intelligence, and even hair color. Whatever you care about, whatever you want; put it on the list. Whittle your list down to qualities you couldn’t live without. Your list of qualities should be significantly shorter now and that list is you’re non-negotiable. For instance you want to have kids. You wouldn’t date someone who doesn’t want kids.
- The next step is becoming the person with all those qualities on your list
If you don’t already have most of the qualities you listed that you want in another person you aren’t going to find them; like attracts like. We subconsciously attract people who are similar to us. So if you want someone who is humble, patient and kind. Be humble, patient and kind. It works, trust me! Pretty much this step is all about cultivating who you are as a person and who you want to be without needing anyone else. And when you do that; that is when the right person shows up.
- Working all 12 steps and having an active 12 step program
If you are in recovery you already know the importance of your sobriety. Without your sobriety everything else means pretty much nothing. This is because without your sobriety you will most likely end up messing everything up including a relationship. Actually I feel like I can go ahead and say ESPECIALLY a relationship. So completing your 12 step program is vital to not only staying sober but your entire life. Also when you work a 12 step program you look at your character defects and how selfish you are so when you do enter into a relationship you will be able to practice principles and hopefully not be how you were in the past.
- Learn how to be alone
Learning how to be ok not in a relationship is absolutely paramount to being in one. If you have never been alone or are always jumping from relationship to relationship you are never giving yourself the time to get to know you. You will be the person who is always there. So in order to like a relationship with another person you really need to like the relationship you have with yourself first.
Then there is the whole relationships are temporary—all of them. Unfortunately not only are ALL relationships temporary, everything in life is, and nothing ever truly belongs to us. This means people too. It isn’t YOUR relationship or MY girlfriend. You don’t own another person. You never have and never will. So basically what I am saying is don’t get attached. You can love without being attached. Detaching isn’t the same as apathy either—you still take action and love the other person but you also do it with the realization that you don’t own them and that your time with them is temporary. You realize that relationship is going to end one day and that person is going to be gone whether it is through a break up, death, divorce etc.
Which is part of the reason learning how to be alone and ok with yourself regardless of what is going on around you is key to every relationship you will ever have. Why, because another person is temporary. So on this one, know who you are and be ok with it. Take the time to sit alone sometimes and do what you like to do. And breathe. These kinds of actions really help to make your focus less self-centered and are great for really developing a relationship with your own power, universe, self-etc. and then you can carry that self-love outward in your in relationship.
Ok so say the last three things you have already done and now you have found yourself in what is starting to look like a relationship:
- Take It Slow
You don’t have to know if this man or woman meets all of your criteria, what their mother is like, whether or not they want to have kids or their arguing style. Just move slowly forward in the relationship with the thought of what you can bring to it not what you are going to get out of it. If you go into the relationship with what you can give you will find everything you need to and you will have gotten to brighten someone else’s life up regardless of whether or not it works out. How awesome is that?