It is no question that human beings are going to want to seek out and engage in romantic relationships. We were designed to be in relation with one another! The suggestion to stay out of a relationship for at least one year of sobriety is often discussed, but rarely ever followed! Here are a few reasons why you may want to reconsider this suggestion:
First, your first year in recovery is going to be filled with highs and lows; many describe this time as an emotional rollercoaster. In recovery, we have to learn new methods of coping, and that often takes some hard work and practice! For a person who has just begun to reestablish their self-esteem and confidence, engaging in a romantic relationship can really challenge this. It is risky to add an additional and significant life change such as this as you are much more susceptible to relapse if things go south in the relationship.
In addition, engaging in a relationship diverts our focus from ourselves to someone else. During this important time of self-growth, discovery, and development, being in a relationship can really take away from this crucial process. You may find yourself distracted from your meetings, stepwork, or other aspects of your “recovery routine” because you are more focused on your partner’s.
Don’t worry, though! The goal is certainly not to discourage recovering addicts to ever be in a relationship. Rather, it is to allow yourself ample time to engage fully in your recovery process, improve self-esteem and self-worth, and take the needed time and space for discovering who you are without the use of drugs and alcohol before starting to date. Many find that their hobbies and interests are quite different when they are not using. Recovering addicts will often report that what was appealing about a partner when they had a few months sober to a few years is extremely different. It is worth it to take the time to find yourself before you begin looking to find someone else!