Most experts recommend that you have at least a year of sobriety before you start dating again. This can seem like an unbearably long time to some people. And relationships often form during treatment or 12-step meetings. However tempting these relationships might be, there are some very good reasons to hold off on romantic entanglements until your recovery is on solid ground. A year is typically enough time to become comfortable with recovery and feelings of irritability or emotional numbness from post-acute-withdrawal syndrome have typically passed. After a year, your risk of relapse drops considerably, so it’s usually safe to start dating again with reasonable caution. Here’s why getting into a romantic relationship too soon might jeopardize your recovery.
Relationships are distracting.
When you’re in a new relationship, you want to spend all your time with that person. You think about that person when you’re apart. The other things in your life seem like they’re only keeping you from spending more time with your new love. Normally, this is relatively harmless, but when you’re recovering from addiction, you need to focus on that. Not only does it take a real commitment to recover from addiction, but you have to do a lot of introspection and being preoccupied with a new love interest can be really distracting.
Relationships can cause emotional stress.
When relationships are going well, you can feel wonderful, but if something goes wrong, it can feel horrible. A new relationship has both the potential for happiness and for abject misery. When you’re starting out in recovery, it’s better to avoid these emotional pitfalls whenever possible. You don’t want to work hard in recovery for several months, only to risk your progress over a breakup, argument, or other relationship drama.
Dating someone else in recovery might be problematic.
People get into relationships with other people in treatment or recovery all the time. This only makes sense. You spend a lot of time around each other and you’ve faced similar challenges few others can understand. However, there are real risks to dating someone else in recovery, especially early on. If one partner drops out of treatment, the other is more likely to drop out too. If one partner relapses, it’s often difficult for the other to stay sober. You might be faced with the choice of spending time around someone who is using again or dealing with the emotional fallout of a breakup.
You may repeat unhealthy relationship patterns.
Many people in recovery have unhealthy relationship patterns, perhaps engaging in risky sex or always ending up in codependent relationships. If you get into a new relationship early in recovery, there’s a strong possibility you are only repeating these old patterns, which will only make your recovery harder. However, if you give yourself a chance to learn and grow and connect with others on a more meaningful level, you will gain more insight into these unhealthy patterns and you will have a better chance of finding a healthier relationship in the future.
Pinnacle Recovery specializes in inpatient rehabilitation, trauma recovery, AA programs and AA alternatives, experiential therapy, dual diagnosis, family therapy, co-occurring and dual diagnosis addictions. We also offer a wide range of intensive outpatient treatment programs. Call 1-866-301-0573 today for more information.