How Long Should a Recovering Alcoholic Wait Before Dating?
Fri, 14 Jan 2022 07:15:18 +0000
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If you’re in early recovery, you’ve probably spent a lot of time lately focused on yourself. You’ve recognized your problems with substance use, and made the brave step of going to treatment. You’ve got your housing and job in order, and established a routine in recovery. Now that you’re clean and sober you might feel better than you have in a long time, and if you’re single you’re probably keen to share the new you with someone else. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, it might be time for your first sober date.
But if you mention a desire to find love or even just companionship to other people in recovery, you may get a side eye. Dating is usually discouraged in early recovery, and there’s little consensus on how long a recovering alcoholic should wait before dating.
Here’s what you should think about before you start sober dating, and how you might know you’re ready to jump in.
Dating in Early Recovery
It’s common to come out of rehab, or your first few weeks of meetings, feeling like a new person. But before you sign up for a sober dating website, it’s a good idea to take some time to focus on yourself. Traditionally, 12-step philosophy teaches that people shouldn’t start dating, or make any other major life decisions, during the first year of sobriety.
That probably sounds like a really long time, but hear it out. The first year of sobriety is a risky time. Relapse rates are high, and even if you manage to stay sober, you’re learning to cope with the ups and downs of life without turning to alcohol.
Dating — which is stressful under the best of circumstances — can add to that rollercoaster. Breakups, being stood up, or even the euphoria of a great date can disrupt the balance of sobriety that you’ve just painstakingly established. So, take the first year after ditching alcohol to build a rock solid foundation in sobriety. Then you’ll be ready to find a partner to create a life with on that bedrock.
Do I Really Have To Wait A Year?
Deciding when to date is an incredibly personal decision. While a year of sobriety is a good benchmark to keep in mind, that won’t be right for everyone. Perhaps you are hoping to have children and feel your biological clock ticking. Maybe you have a timeline for other reasons, and waiting for a year just feels unrealistic.In that case, you should take a close look at your motivations for dating, and honestly evaluate whether you are ready to be in a relationship. Ask yourself: Why do you want to date now?
What mental, emotional or physical need are you trying to fulfill with dating? Are you really just afraid or uncomfortable with being alone?
Are you secure in your sobriety? If you’re confident in your sober life, and not still figuring it out on the fly, you might be ready to date.How will you cope with upset? Dating can be rough. Think about how you’ll feel when things don’t go well.
Will dating affect your recovery routine? When you’re in a relationship, will you still be able to put your recovery first?If you decide to begin dating before a year of sobriety, proceed with caution. Remember that if dating right now feels overwhelming or begins to dominate your life, you can always pause and start dating again later.
Sober Dating Tips
When you are ready to rejoin the dating game, you might find yourself feeling a bit rusty. After all, you’ve likely had a year or more off of dating. Because of that, it’s a good idea to go in with few expectations. Allow yourself to simply get to know people and have fun, rather than looking for The One.
Now that you’re abstaining from alcohol, dates might be different than outings you had in the past. Brushing up on sober dating tips can help.This starts before you even go on a date. Take some time to reflect on who you are and how that has changed since you got sober. An added perk: this will help you fill out your dating profile, and make more meaningful matches.
Before you date, think about the following:
What are you looking for? Casual dating looks very different than dating with the intention of getting married or having kids.What do you want to share? Think about your recovery story, and how you will discuss it on your first date. You don’t have to get into the details, but it’s likely to come up and it’s best to be prepared. This can be as simple as saying, “I don’t drink,” or much more complex.
Who do you want to date? You probably have your preferences in mind for a partner, but now there’s a new choice: do you want to date someone who is also in recovery? Are you alright with dating someone who uses alcohol? Both decisions come with benefits and drawbacks.It’s normal to want to get back into the world of romance as soon as possible after getting sober. However, taking time to focus on yourself and establish your recovery can make you a more desirable partner, and help you have a happy and healthy relationship long term.
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