Are You Ready for a New Relationship in Recovery?
This article is for all the ladies in recovery who are looking for love. There is no doubt that being in a relationship with someone special can add substance and value to your life. Having a supportive partner who encourages you, appreciates you, and brings you joy is awesome. Who doesn’t love falling in love, right?
However, we would be doing you a disservice if we didn’t ask you to slow down for just a moment. Matters of the heart can be quite complicated. It’s a good idea to proceed with caution. Before you move forward, we want to offer some words of wisdom if you are thinking about sober dating.
Yes, it is true that things can go beautifully right when it comes to the search for love. However; we want you to be prepared for the reality that things can also go terribly wrong. Are you really ready to have a healthy, loving relationship?
Let’s talk about sober dating. The decision to start a new relationship in recovery is not one that should be taken lightly.
First Things First – Some Important Questions You Should Ask Yourself
Before you jump feet first into sober dating, we encourage you to answer the following questions:
- Do you have at least one year clean? One year of sobriety can seem like a lot to a newcomer who wants to start a new relationship. But, it is HIGHLY recommended that you have at least one full year of recovery under your belt before you go looking for love.
- Have you worked all 12 Steps? The 12 Steps provide a solid foundation for recovery. They teach spiritual principles that show you how to cope with powerful emotions so you can stay sober no matter what comes your way.
- Have you talked to your sponsor about this? If you are working a program, your sponsor should know you better than anyone else. Of course, you don’t need her permission to start dating in recovery. BUT, having her blessing wouldn’t hurt. If she tells you she doesn’t think you are emotionally ready yet, you might want to take her suggestion and wait a little while.
- What are your motives for getting into a new relationship? You may think you know why you want to start dating. But, it is common for recovering women to get into a relationship for all the wrong reasons. Your motives may not be in the right place – and you may not even realize it. Are you trying to fill a void in your life with the affection of another human being? Are you just looking for sex? Are you being honest with yourself about how much work a relationship really requires? Check your motives with your sponsor. Be sure you are doing this with sincere intentions.
Before you zoom off to find the love of your life, we suggest that you practice Step 11 with prayer and meditation after honestly answering these questions. Ask the God of your understanding if you are spiritually ready to venture into the dating scene as a sober woman.
Remember, Recovery Has to Come First – Always
Addiction affects women in profound ways. If you decided to start dating in sobriety, you have to remember to keep your recovery first. Just because some dynamite person comes into your life and sweeps you off your feet doesn’t mean your recovery should take a back seat.
It is very common for recovering women to get caught up in the powerful emotions of a new relationship. When this happens; stepwork, meeting attendance, and calling your sponsor can seem like an afterthought. This can take you into dangerous territory.
As long as you can keep your recovery first, you will be in good shape. Remember, this relationship may not last. It could end up in a terrible, gut-wrenching breakup. If this happens, you need to be on solid ground so the program can catch you when you fall.
Be Upfront About Your Recovery to Your New Partner
Some say having a recovering partner can enhance individual sobriety. Others say it is a recipe for relapse. If you have decided to get into a new relationship with another recovering addict or alcoholic, you won’t have to explain the importance of your sobriety.
However; if you decide to date someone who is not actively involved in a 12-Step program, you need to let them know early on that you live a sober lifestyle. Tell them about meetings, stepwork, and the importance of sponsorship. Explain that – under NO circumstances – should they offer you a drink. If they use drugs of any kind, you should stay away.
You may invite your new partner to an open 12-Step meeting so they can learn about what it takes for you to stay sober. And, they should definitely meet your sponsor and have an honest conversation with her about your sobriety. If someone new is not willing to support you in your recovery journey, they are not the one for you.
Pick G-Rated Spots for Dates
A lot of sober people who venture out into the dating scene still think bars are a great place to meet people. WRONG! You have NO business being in a bar. It’s a set up for a relapse. Besides, you don’t want to meet someone who drinks regularly. This is not conducive to your sobriety.
Dating someone who occasionally drinks responsibly might be okay (talk to your sponsor about this!) but seeing someone who goes barhopping is not a good idea. It puts your recovery in danger. Plus, no self-respecting recovering woman wants to date a drunk!
Also, if you start talking to someone new, and they want to meet at a bar, tell them “no thank you.” Even if you like to play pool, darts, or other bar games; you need to steer clear.
Here are some G-Rated date ideas:
- The classic dinner and a movie
- A walk in the local park or a hike
- Attending a live theatre performance
- Coffee, or lunch
- Fitness class, if that’s your thing!
- Art gallery or museum
- Meditation class
There are PLENTY of things to do on a date besides going to a bar. Get creative!
Don’t Drink or Take Drugs No Matter What
The most important thing to remember when you start a new relationship in recovery is to stay sober NO MATTER WHAT! Drugs or alcohol will never be a solution to navigating the powerful emotions that can arise from a new relationship.
Be prepared for what lies ahead. You will feel insecure. It is likely that you will experience some level of mental obsession when it comes to dating. Rejection is a very real possibility. You have the potential to substitute one addiction for another. (Love and sex can be intoxicating!) Your new partner may cheat, lie, or abuse you in some way. The list goes on and on.
We are not telling you all of this to bring doom and gloom into your mind about dating. Nevertheless, we know from experience that seeking romance in recovery can bring unexpected negative consequences that put recovery in jeopardy.
Consider all the possibilities before you start dating. Then, make the commitment now that you are going to keep your recovery first. Stay away from drugs and alcohol. Stay clean no matter what.
Be kind and loving to yourself as you venture into this new, unchartered territory. We wish you all the best as you make the courageous move into the dating scene. It is our sincere hope that you find a wonderful someone to treat you like the goddess you are!