Dating can be fun or terrifying. Especially for those in recovery, the feelings of excitement or fear can intensify when preparing for a first date. No matter what your thoughts are, remember that just because you are recovering from a substance use disorder doesn’t mean you aren’t fun, desirable or adventurous. You are amazing just as you are, so while out there in the dating world keep these tips in mind.
There Is No Rush
While it is important to surround yourself with people who care about you and your sobriety, remember that there is no reason to rush into a new relationship. Your recovery should always come first. Deciding to date someone new can be an emotional experience, whether good or bad, so prepare yourself for what that might mean for your recovery.
Jumping into a new relationship right after treatment could also lead to the unhealthy management of your new life in recovery. Instead of rushing into something that could undermine the progress you’ve made, take time to breathe and adjust to the new priorities and goals you have set. Remember, there is nothing wrong with staying single and focusing on the most important person in your life: you.
Choose Environments that Support Your Recovery
You’re excited about your first date, but what should you do and where should you go? Avoid environments that could potentially compromise your ability to maintain your sobriety. Instead, pick places that promote enjoyable and sober activities rather than bars, clubs or other places that serve alcohol and could negatively impact your recovery.
Remember, triggers are people, places and things that remind you of your previous drug or alcohol use. Being in a safe environment that is free of temptation and stress can provide a better space for the two of you to get to know each other better. If your date suggests going somewhere that doesn’t align with your recovery, be firm when suggesting another place to meet.
Be Honest About Your Recovery
There is never a perfect moment to tell a potential romantic partner about your previous struggles with drugs or alcohol, and choosing to avoid the conversation could put a strain on your budding relationship and your recovery. Being honest about your sobriety can reduce your stress and ease your mind about dating someone new.
Although it may be difficult or uncomfortable to disclose certain parts of your past, letting your date know where you stand when it comes to drug and alcohol use can take the relationship to a whole new level. Recovery is a lifelong process, and if this person wants to be in your life, he or she needs to accept you for who you are.
Your Sobriety Comes First
Consider the time and energy it took you to get to where you are now in recovery. Sobriety didn’t happen overnight, so don’t derail your journey for someone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Keep recovery goals at the forefront of your mind and ask yourself: Is it worth sacrificing my health for this newfound love interest?
Relationships are all about understanding, so be clear about what you can and cannot do in your recovery and set boundaries regarding the types of activities you can both participate in. If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, vocalize your concerns.
Remember that your recovery is yours and yours alone. Relationships are all about compromise, but it’s imperative to know your limits and know where you stand when it comes to sobriety. If you feel your recovery could be compromised by the person you’re dating, there is no shame in putting yourself and your recovery goals first.
Determine Whether the Relationship Is a Healthy One
As you work to improve your health and your life, you must also assess whether your new relationship is good for you. In treatment you found the right approach to your recovery, so apply what you learned from your doctors and therapists to your relationship and insist that your partner support and encourage you in healthy ways.
Ask yourself if this person respects your decision to remain sober. If not, it’s time to reassess the value he or she brings to your life.