For those of you in recovery, the topic of dating may be exhausting to even think about. Before you started treatment, you may have experienced significant difficulties with dating as a consequence of substance use. However, addiction treatment and recovery have started to change the way that you perceive the world around you. While dating does not have to be a part of your recovery journey, it can positively enhance your perspective of yourself and help you navigate challenges in life.
Before you are ready to jump into dating, there are a few questions you may want to ask yourself, such as:
- How long have I been in recovery?
- Am I comfortable with who I am becoming?
- Can I keep my recovery a priority while I incorporate dating into my life?
It is important to answer these questions as honestly as possible to know whether or not you are ready to embark on a new journey of dating. A guide to sober dating is essential in understanding how dating can change your life and your recovery. Above all, it is essential that you are comfortable with who you are so that you can keep your recovery at the highest priority in your life.
Does the length of sobriety matter when dating?
Before you consider dating, the first question that you should ask yourself is how long you have been in recovery. While there is no specific amount of time in recovery that dictates if a person is truly ready to date, it can be helpful to reflect on how far you have come on your recovery journey.
Nearly all treatment programs set clear expectations for clients to refrain from any romantic or sexual relationships during their treatment experience. Following treatment, a good rule of thumb might be to refrain from dating for at least a year. In place of dating, engage in deep self-discovery to help you connect better with who you are at your core.
Substance use and addiction warp how individuals perceive themselves, especially when it comes to understanding self-worth. It is essential that you give yourself time to heal from the harmful physical, psychological, and emotional effects of addiction before you commit yourself to dating someone else.
Are you comfortable with your own needs?
The second question to consider is whether or not you feel physically and emotionally comfortable in who you are and who you are becoming. There is no question that substance use treatment helps you to discover deep-rooted traumas and emotional distress that may have contributed to initial and repeated substance use. Treatment can also help you to discover factors related to parental attachment and can help you to view relationships more positively. However, recognize that identifying factors and actually overcoming trauma are two very different things.
It is important to recognize that while you do not have to work through all of your past in order to date successfully, you do need a good grasp on who you are and what circumstances made you who you are today.
You may feel comfortable in who you are when you are alone, but then comes the difficult challenge of learning who you are when you are with certain people. Your past substance use was likely perpetuated by the friend groups that you were surrounding yourself with. We are all affected by the people we choose to spend our time with. Similarly, you have to be prepared to prioritize your recovery needs while you date in the future, especially if you date people that have not committed their lives to recovery.
Prioritizing Your Recovery While Dating
Suppose you feel comfortable with where you are at in your recovery and your individual needs moving forward. What’s next?
Be aware of some of the common difficulties that may come up in your dating journey so that you can prepare better for how to respond to them. First, what you may have learned from your experience with addiction is that it is a lonely journey. You may want to prepare yourself because sobriety may mimic that same feeling of loneliness in a vastly different way. You may feel like you are missing out on parties, lacking coping skills, or feel bored as you approach dating. However, it is essential that you stand true to your commitment to recovery and find things to be grateful for in your everyday life.
Another concern is that you may be risking codependency, especially if your reason for dating is to depend on someone that can meet your physical or emotional needs. This is even more important for those that have only been exposed to one-sided, abusive, or emotionally destructive relationships. Engage in your own research about what a healthy, interdependent relationship should look like. While every relationship has its ups and downs, successful dating happens when two people know what they want and how they deserve to be treated.
It is not impossible for someone that drinks to date a sober person; however, like any successful relationship, it will require patience, communication, and deep understanding. Recognize that recovery will last a lifetime, and no relationship should take that incredible healing journey away from you. Look for sober dating resources in your community to help kickstart your dating journey in a positive way with limited substance use, temptations, and triggers.
One of the topics that often comes up in recovery involves dating. Dating poses its own unique challenges, especially for those prioritizing sobriety in their lives. Before you date, it is crucial to ask yourself several questions, including how long you’ve been sober, are you comfortable with your own needs, and how will you keep your sobriety a priority in your life? SoCal Mental Health is a mental health and substance use disorder treatment facility that understands the struggles with dating in recovery. We offer several treatment programs that create individualized treatment plans for you as you work to recover from your symptoms. We will help you engage in profound self-discovery and reflection so that you can feel ready to date again at some point in your recovery. To learn more about our treatment programs, call us today at (714) 328-4760.