Any new relationship brings unique challenges, but dating someone in the fraught stages of early recovery can be especially tricky. If you’re dating someone healing from addiction, you’ll need to understand how the disease can affect your relationship and equip yourself with the tools for supporting your partner.
What to Expect When Dating Someone in Recovery
The decision to start dating a recovering addict isn’t one you should make lightly. Consider your situation and expectations – for example, if you view addiction as a moral failing, that stigma may drive a wedge between you and your partner. By recognizing that everyone makes mistakes and deserves a chance to grow and improve, you have a better chance at building a foundation for a healthy relationship.
Your potential partner’s progress in the recovery process also plays a role in determining whether they’re stable enough to embark on a new relationship. For example, people who have committed to the sobriety journey often hear the advice to wait at least one full year before dating. That’s because the first year of addiction recovery is time to concentrate solely on staying mentally and physically healthy, while avoiding things that might trigger a relapse.
Adding dating into that mix may be overwhelming, so if you meet someone who sparks your interest, you’ll likely be better off keeping the relationship platonic until after they’ve reached that one-year milestone.
How to Support a Recovering Addict
When you’re dating a recovering addict, patience, compassion and compromise are essential. Remember, your partner is still getting to know who they are without drugs or alcohol clouding their judgment and influencing their decision-making abilities. They may need to attend one or more recovery meetings or therapy sessions per week, and it could also be beneficial for you to join a support group to equip yourself with the tools you need to help a person navigating early recovery.
It is critical to familiarize yourself with your partner’s triggers and be alert to the signs of a potential relapse. While a return to substance abuse doesn’t mean someone has failed in their quest to stay sober, it can be a disappointing setback and may represent a rough patch in your relationship. For example, look for potential red flags like secrecy, dishonesty or denial, which could indicate someone has started drinking or using again.
10 Sober Date Ideas
As you explore the world of dating someone in early recovery, you may wonder what substance-free activities you can do. For a newly sober person, seeing others drinking or using drugs can be triggering, which will probably make activities like concerts and parties off-limits. However, with a little creativity, you can overcome this difficulty. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
- Stay home and play board games or have a movie marathon.
- Go thrift or antique shopping.
- Try a DIY or craft project like building a piece of furniture.
- Do yoga together.
- Explore a nearby tourist attraction neither of you has visited before.
- Go on a hike or bike ride – you’ll get some exercise while enjoying the great outdoors.
- Start an indoor herb garden.
- Get an adrenaline rush by visiting a local rock-climbing gym.
- Learn a new skill by signing up for a cooking, dancing, drawing or photography class.
- Give back to the community by volunteering at an animal shelter, soup kitchen or another deserving nonprofit.
The Joys of Dating a Recovering Addict
With honest communication and realistic expectations, dating someone in early recovery can be fulfilling and rewarding for both of you.
At Canyon Crossing, we have helped hundreds of women discover their true selves and learn how to maximize their potential in life by breaking free of substance misuse. We offer traditional 12-step therapy alongside complementary treatment options that provide a foundation for a healthy recovery and put your needs first. If you’ve lost control of your drinking or drug use, contact us today to start your admissions process.