Recovery is hard on its own, adding anything extra at this vulnerable time could easily divert your attention off of what is most important…YOU!!! There are so many reasons why dating in early recovery seems appealing at the moment, but in the end, does the risk outweigh the reward….NO, not even a little bit. In my experience, I have seen firsthand how dating in early recovery has been the demise of someone’s sobriety. Below are the most common reasons why dating in early recovery is a risk in itself:
- Replacement -Now that you are clean and sober, it’s common to look for something to fill that void that substances once Food, shopping, working out and you guessed it love and/or lust!!! When you have an attraction to someone, your brain gets all those “feel goods” you know them well (dopamine, norepinephrine, phenylethylamine). Listen we all have needs, but if you’re not careful relationships and sex can become your new addiction. So let’s not even go there.
- Distraction – When you begin a relationship, you are both in the honeymoon phase. During that time you are focused on the other person: their likes, dislikes almost everything about them. We do this to take the focus off of ourselves. Why not, right? If I put my effort into someone else I don’t have to change. Until you can focus on your own healing you are no good to anyone, not even yourself.
- The “Representative” – The representative always shows up first…the best version of yourself, what you want others to see on the surface. When you get involved in a romantic relationship, it is very similar…you want to put your best self-forward, but do you even know who you really are at this point? Finding yourself is part of the process in early recovery, and this takes time…a lot of time. Unless you figure out who you are and put yourself and your recovery first, any relationship you start may be doomed from the start. But hey, if you don’t date than you don’t have to worry about that part.
- The Big R (Relapse) – You have no guarantee that this relationship will last. In fact, the majority of relationships that begin in early recovery don’t. Because you have used drugs in the past as a means of coping with different situations in your life, you will be tempted to relapse when your relationship ends, using the drugs as an excuse, or to mask the pain.
- What the heck is love? – You may have a warped picture of what love really is. You carry with you your assumptions, biases and incorrect ideas about love. Listen, we accept the love we think we deserve. Without properly understanding what love is, your relationship and your recovery will likely be unhealthy, unsuccessful and honestly a complete drag. So let’s start by figuring out what love truly is…the best way to do this is to start with self-love.
Relationships are important, fun and everyone deserves one! They make our lives meaningful and exciting. However, getting into a relationship at the wrong time…like during rehab or in the first year of recovery, you can cause more harm than good. By waiting until you’re comfortable with your true self and honestly prepared, (yes prepared) because love is a battlefield as Pat Benatar said, you give yourself the best chance to achieve recovery and to develop a healthy relationship. ORRR…you can get just get a puppy because puppies are life.
Author: Rosa Fazzolari – Footprints to Recovery – Case Manager