Navigating a Sober Dating Life
During recovery, it’s common to want to have a close connection with someone because, let’s face it, recovery can get quite lonely sometimes. Even if you’re undergoing outpatient addiction treatment, recovery can still be lonely as you must forego rowdy parties and many other social activities. For most people, ending the feelings of isolation and loneliness involves getting back into the dating scene—but, as someone who is navigating a newly attained sober life, dating can be quite tricky.
Here’s everything you need to know about navigating a sober dating life.
Can Dating Lead to Relapse?
For the newly sober, the idea of a relationship seems like a good one. You won’t be lonely, and you have someone to go with you through the journey to sobriety. Starting a new relationship too soon can increase your risk of relapse. After addiction treatment, relapse rates are between 40%-60 percent. The fact is that most recovering addicts want to be in a relationship when they’re least likely to be mentally and emotionally prepared to be in one. During the early stages of recovery, many ex-addicts use relationships to:
- Relieve stress
- Escape from internal problems
- Meet emotional needs
- Fill a void
- Find themselves
Simply put, some will use relationships as a new way to find happiness—a high, in a way. Some addicts are also more likely to get involved with someone who isn’t necessarily a wise match, which opens the door to a codependent or even abusive relationship.
The bigger problem comes when relationships become messy or end on unfriendly terms. This can cause addicts to go through higher levels of emotional strain, which then impacts their self-esteem, and confidence. A relationship that ends badly could put you into a downward spiral, causing you to relapse and need intensive outpatient treatment all over again.
Instead of rushing into a relationship in hopes of feeling less lonely or having a new outlet, find ways to embrace yourself and your new life. Take part in group therapy sessions. Take a weekend to yourself and visit a place you’ve always wanted to see. There are plenty of things you can do to not feel so lonely without relying on a relationship to fill the void.
Why Is Dating Difficult During Recovery?
No matter if you’re 25 or 45, the single/mingle/dating life is hard. Dating is even more complicated if you’re recovering from an addiction and trying to navigate a sober life. One of the biggest factors that make dating more difficult as a sober person is that you can’t take part in social activities, such as drinking or partying, which is how most people meet prospective partners.
In the past, going out to the bar was a no-brainer, but, as a sober person, this activity doesn’t fit well into your new lifestyle. Dating is also harder because your source of liquid courage is gone. You can’t use alcohol or drugs to help you let loose or become more open to strangers.
How Long Should I Wait?
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to wait a year (or more!) before getting back into the dating scene. The first year of treatment and recovery can be tough. We’ve all heard that the major life changes during your first year of sobriety increase your chances of relapsing. While the one-year rule is commonly used by Alcoholics Anonymous, it’s also widely used by other self-help groups. The rule stands true no matter if you were once addicted to alcohol, opioids, or any other dangerous substance.
The first year of recovery, no matter if you went through inpatient or outpatient drug treatment, is all about you. You should take this time to take care of yourself and to reconnect with yourself. By getting into a new relationship, you’re distracted from these efforts.
After reaching sobriety, you’re truly a new person. Without alcohol, drugs, or whatever your “drug” of choice may have been, you’re not the same person you were. Until you come to terms with the new you, you’re not in the best place mentally or emotionally to judge who is the most suitable partner for you.
Dating too early into recovery leaves you vulnerable to sharing too much or too little about yourself, using dating as an unhealthy coping mechanism, or becoming codependent, which can negatively impact your recovery.
Is Online Dating Easier?
Online dating has become extremely popular in the last few years. In fact, around 15% of adults in the United States have used online dating or mobile dating apps in order to find a partner in hopes of sparking a relationship. Online dating allows you to connect with potential partners without having to spend hours at a bar or in some other not-so-recovery-friendly location.
As an addict, using online dating sites or apps may seem like a safer option, but the fact still remains that jumping too soon into any version of dating can be dangerous. It’s just as easy online to become “addicted” to someone and use the newfound relationship as a way to minimize stress and to define who you are, individually.
Dating online may seem less dangerous because you aren’t connecting physically with that person, but the same risks exist. It’s just as easy to use an online relationship to relieve stress or to fill an emotional void.
Online dating may be a way to connect with others, but, unless you’re past the first year of recovery, you’re best sticking to creating friendships versus getting into a relationship and looking for love.
Dating Another Recovering Addict
With around 10% of adults in the U.S. recovering from addiction at any given time, you’re not alone in practicing a drug- or alcohol-free policy. Recovery is all about personal growth and self-identification. For some, dating a recovering addict allows them to connect on a much deeper and spiritual level. Dating another recovering addict may allow you to build a solid foundation that embraces health, smart decisions, and, ultimately, life-long sobriety.
As a recovering addict, it can be hard to fully connect with someone who doesn’t understand your struggles or your new way of life. Those who have never had an addiction or gone through outpatient drug rehab may not understand you spending hours at group meetings or not being able to go out and drink socially with you.
By dating a recovering addict like yourself, you’ve likely found someone who truly understands everything you’ve gone through, as well as the struggles you’ll likely face in the future. Since recovery is your main priority, it’s nice to find someone who has that same top priority.
While this scenario seems ideal, it’s important to continue to focus on yourself. You and your partner should both understand the need to center yourselves and to embrace who you are. In turn, you’re better positioned for a more happy and long-lasting relationship.
Facing Addiction? We Can Help
Tired of looking for an outpatient rehab in Florida, only to come up short in your search? While there are plenty of outpatient drug rehab centers to choose from, if you’re looking for a facility that is there for you every step of the way, look no further than RECO Intensive.
Our outpatient rehab services help you get back to a brighter and healthier future. Through personalized care, group programs, and therapeutic excursions, we help all of our clients find the best version of themselves.
Call us today at 844.900.RECO or 561.808.7986 to learn more.