Sex, love, and dating are already complicated enough. Of course, things only get more complicated when addiction is added to the mix. Active addiction will destroy a romantic relationship every time.
But a healthy, loving relationship with a recovering addict is possible. By following the right precautions, you can successfully navigate the world of dating and find a thriving, supportive relationship. If addiction has impacted your life or the life of your ificant other, this guide is for you.
Plus, how does addiction affect relationships?
Is it ok to date in early recovery?
How soon is too soon to date after recovery? And should two recovering addicts date? Addiction impacts every area of life, including relationships.
Over time, it destroys the very foundation of romantic relationships: qualities like trust, stability, intimacy, and communication. Addicts often feel ashamedguilty, or afraid of being judged. To hide the extent of their drug use, addicts become secretive.
When these lies are questioned, addicts may become defensive and verbally attack their partners. In addition, some substances cause people to act irrationally or even cruelly toward those around them. Common effects of substance abuse include:. Of course, none of these effects contribute to a healthy relationship.
In some relationships that involve addiction, these behaviors escalate to verbal or physical abuse. For an addict, nothing is more important than the substance. This includes relationships. The addict is driven by cravings for drugs or alcoholand fulfilling that craving becomes the most important part of his or her life.
Relationships that were once so important become neglected. For someone who is not addicted to substances, these changes are impossible to understand. If you really loved me, you would just stop using.
The ultimate guide to romantic relationships after addiction
Despite their best intentions, people who are in relationships with addicts often enable them. Enabling behaviors can include lending money, calling in sick for the addict, and lying to others. Healthy boundaries are vital in any relationship. The bottom line is this: Active addiction and romantic relationships do not mix. If the addict receives treatment and commits to recovery, however, a healthy and happy relationship is possible.
By following these guidelines, you can find the balance between recovery and romance. This may seem like a long time, but there are several important reasons for this general rule. Yes, waiting a full days to date can be difficult. Addiction may have shattered important relationships in your life, and recovery may mean that you had to leave behind all your old friends. This can leave you feeling lonely and wanting to connect with others, which makes dating seem appealing.
First, some people turn to the high of infatuation as a replacement addiction. The flood of chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine can be an intoxicating substitute for the high of drugs or alcohol. For some, love and sex can emerge as new addictions. And simply replacing the addiction makes it difficult to do the important work of addressing underlying issues. These issues are often linked to negative core beliefs. Using relationships as a crutch can prevent real, meaningful recovery from addiction.
Relationships can also be a distraction from recovery. During the first year of sobriety, your time and energy should be focused on recovery and rediscovering yourself. Both Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous emphasize spiritual principles and encourage recovering addicts to turn to a higher power. Recovering addicts run the risk of seeing a new partner as a sort of higher power.
The problem is that relationships fail. Arguments, infidelity, or the collapse of a new relationship can easily trigger a relapse in early recovery. These issues can stir up feelings of abandonment, insecurity, or unworthiness that contribute to addiction. Dating and other social situations can be difficult for recovering addicts.
What if they want to take you to a bar or a party with lots of drinking? Even kissing someone with the taste of alcohol on their lips can trigger a recovering alcoholic.
However, many recovering addicts choose not to listen to this advice. We agree with the other experts: You should stay sober for a full year before dating.
Develop a support networkengage in healthy activities to occupy your time, and find a sober ability partner who is also committed to refraining from dating. But if you do start dating before the year is up—or even if you start dating more than a year into recovery— follow the tips below to maintain sobriety while dating.
Move slowly with anyone you want to date.
5 questions to ask before you start dating a recovering addict
Take time to get to know the person and make sure they are an appropriate choice before investing fully in the relationship. Do not date someone only for sex, and be on the lookout for s of a destructive or dysfunctional relationship. Continue working your program, pursuing independent hobbies and interests, and nurturing other important friendships and relationships.
Tell your new partner about your recovery. In addition to being honest with your partner, be honest with yourself. Do you truly like this person? Can you safely pursue this relationship without threatening your hard-won sobriety? Is this person kind, supportive, honest, and dependable enough to be a worthy boyfriend or girlfriend? Is your new partner respectful of your boundaries?
Do you find yourself doing things merely to please your ificant other? If so, this may be the wrong person or the wrong time. Discuss your new relationship and even relationship issues openly. Your therapist can help you achieve a healthy relationship with appropriate boundaries and can recognize potential red flags that you may overlook. He or she can also provide advice on your readiness for a relationship and how to manage dating effectively.
Retreating from your support system can be disastrous for your recovery. Share openly about the relationship with others and ask for advice when needed. Take it slow and listen to your gut instinct. And remember: No relationship is worth risking your sobriety. If it seems like you need to choose between sobriety and a relationship for the time being, always choose your sobriety. Find out how long the person you want to date has been in recovery. During early recovery, the recovering addict is still adjusting physically, mentally, and emotionally to live without substances.
Before dating someone in recovery, you want to know that they are serious about their sobriety. Finally, be aware that addiction can cause lasting consequences.
Never make your new boyfriend or girlfriend feel guilty about having to spend time attending meetings, visiting a counselor, or keeping other recovery-related appointments. Be considerate of your partner when planning dates. Instead of taking your date to a party, club, or bar, plan a beach trip or go see a movie. Feelings of loneliness? Too much stress? Visit your local library or use online resources like the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to develop a better understanding of addiction. You can read through the articles on our blog for more personal insight and advice.