Starting to date is a personal choice. Handling love and recovery is more difficult for some people, and only you can know when to start a romantic relationship.
Butterflies, sweaty palms, flirtatious remarks, and constantly checking your phone is all a part of the dating world. Dating is fun; it boosts self-esteem, produces positive endorphins, and makes the heart feel good. That’s why it doesn’t surprise me when I am asked by a recovering addict, “When can I start dating?”
I wish so badly I could give them the perfect answer, but once again I am forced to say, “It depends.” It depends on where you are at in recovery. It depends on your emotional strength. It depends on who you want to date. My answer often makes people frustrated, but dating is a serious thing to consider while you’re in recovery. So I can’t give you a straight answer, but I can offer some advice to help you choose when the time for romance is right for you.
When to Date in Love and Recovery
When to begin dating is a personal choice. Love and recovery can be a difficult mix for most people. Recovery is longer and harder for some people, and only you can know when you are strong enough to start romantic relations. It is recommended to wait a year after your recovery process has started.
You need this time to focus completely on yourself without outside opinions or feelings affecting your process. Dating can be an emotional roller coaster, and your emotional health needs to be at its best the first year of recovery. After a year has gone by, you can start to evaluate your strength, and determine whether it is something you are prepared for.
What Concerns You Should Have
I have to be honest with you; love and recovery scares the heck out of me. A broken heart can be the cause of relapse, and this is a major concern for anyone in recovery. You cannot control the heart, and whether you intended to date for fun, you might feel yourself falling in love. If a relationship ends, you might be tempted to look for ways to escape the pain of a heart break. Or worse, you might use the relationship as a way to escape the pain of recovery.
If you are not emotionally strong enough, one relationship could be the end of your recovery. This is why a year is recommended, but it might be longer for you, and there is nothing wrong with waiting until you are ready.
Who You Shouldn’t Date
It might sound obvious that you shouldn’t date someone that is personally struggling with an addiction, but I have seen it happen all too often. The people you choose to date need to be solid and strong. They should be your buoy that holds you up, not an anchor that pulls you down with their personal demons. It should not be someone that is also going through the recovery process. You might share a similar story, but to protect you both, date outside the AA or recovery circle.
When to Share Your Addiction Story
If you have decided to begin the dating process, you might not want your first words on a date to be, “I am a recovering addict.” It doesn’t have to be thrown out during the first sentence or even on the first date. Everybody has made mistakes in the past, and sharing a vulnerable piece of you can only happen when you are ready. I do recommend sharing this part of you earlier on in the relationship to keep it honest and healthy.
While having conversations, there will come a point where both of you begin to share things about your past; this would be a good opportunity to share your story. Healthy relationships can be a beautiful experience when a person is strong and the time is right. Waiting for the right time will make you a confident and better companion in the future.
Once you begin recovery outside a rehab facility, you may struggle with readjusting to everyday life. Luckily, Morningside Recovery offers an alumni program and aftercare program to support you long after you leave our facility. For more information on how to get started with these programs so you can successfully pursue love and recovery, call us today at 855-631-2135.