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When drugs and alcohol have been a big part of life for a prolonged period of time, it can be scary and difficult to imagine doing everyday things while abstaining from substance use. Many people new to recovery worry their love life will be negatively impacted. How do you enter the dating world as a sober person? How much will your choices–of partners, of activities, of venues–be limited? How will you be able to love someone else when you’re still learning to love yourself?
Taking a Year Off
Many in the recovery community encourage the newly sober to avoid starting any romantic relationships for the first year of recovery. A year sounds like a very long time, but let’s look at the reasons for this guideline:
- If you’re dating, you’re potentially taking time and energy away from your recovery.
- If you just got clean, you’re still learning who the new you is going to be and that personal development could be hindered by the other party, especially if they are stuck in the patterns you used to follow.
- You may be drawn to people who aren’t healthy for you, especially if you haven’t had time to practice setting boundaries and building safe relationships since getting sober.
Fears People Have About Sober Dating
As a single person in recovery, it’s easy to fall prey to a variety of fears and worries about dating. You might worry that you’re boring now that you’re sober–who would be interested in you now? You might worry that without alcohol or drugs to take the edge off, you’ll be too nervous to hold a normal conversation with someone. You might not know where to begin looking for dates, if not in a bar.
While it’s challenging to date in recovery, it’s also challenging to date someone in recovery. Your date might worry that you will expect them to abstain from substances when with you. They might worry that you’ll relapse and abandon them. They might worry about taking you to visit their friends or family who drink or use.
Timing the Disclosure
If your date isn’t active in the recovery community and doesn’t know that you’re in recovery, how and when do you disclose your experience? It’s up to you, but consider the following options:.
- Before meeting – In some cases, such as online dating, it is possible to inform potential partners of your sobriety before ever meeting. When you disclose your recovery journey in your dating profile, you weed out those who aren’t willing to date a sober person.
- On the first date – If you somehow make it to the first date with no mention of alcohol or other drugs, this could be a good opportunity to share a version of your recovery story. A benefit of waiting is that the other party can get to know the real you before hearing about your substance use history.
- After the first date – The longer you wait to disclose your addiction recovery, the harder it might feel to break the news. It might also send the message that you are embarrassed about or ashamed of your past. You also risk that your date might find out from someone else, and you’d probably rather tell your own story than have someone else tell it for you.
No matter when you choose to share your recovery story, it is important to be open and honest. Show your date that they can trust you to communicate with them and to set healthy boundaries. At Canyon Vista in Arizona, we encourage our guests to build relationships that will promote and build their sober lifestyle.