Romantic relationships are often filled with challenges, and the road to that perfect union can be filled with many twists and turns. One of those potential deal breakers that can bring a union to an end is if the person that you are dating is in recovery from substance abuse. For those who are dating a recovering drug addict , it can be quite a shock and it may lead to deeper thought as to where the relationship may head.
While some people can easily relate to and embrace the fact that everyone as a past, there may be others who may have difficulty in trying to reconcile the two as the relationship moves forward. When you are dating someone who is in recovery, the first thing that you need to know if they are actively working a program and have at least one year of sobriety under their belt. Recovering people can be some of the most healthy people that you will meet, but it takes a lot of hard work in order to get to that point. You need to know that your partner is being proactive in their recovery and has a healthy balance of activities in their life that support their sobriety.
Addiction can bring many consequences including legal problems, considerable debt and dysfunctional family relationships.
Dating an Alcoholic in Recovery
These are all issues that need to be discussed at some point during your relationship. As your partner progresses through their recovery, you have to find ways to be supportive as they work through their various issues if you are committed to the relationship long-term. If their baggage is too much to handle, you must be upfront and honest. Support does not mean being a babysitter or protector. The one thing they do want, however, is to know they have your support and encouragement. Lastly—and perhaps most importantly—you need to know that while your relationship is important, you cannot neglect yourself and your needs.
Your partner is going to recovery meetings, attending regular therapy sessions and engaging in productive activities that are allowing them to mature and grow into their recovery—you need to do the same. You do not want to slip into the role of being a caregiver or enabler in the relationship. When you are in a relationship with someone who is recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, there are some things you must avoid.
First and foremost, you must avoid trying to rescue or enable your partner. Communication in the nascent stage of dating is never easy, especially when both parties bring their own insecurities and doubts to the table. The Salon writer ruminates on how, when he and a potential date were not clicking, he longed for the feeling of having alcohol in his system, the freedom.
Even for all the trouble their drinking caused, they never had problems meeting other people.
For a drinker, alcohol makes people feel more interesting, says the Salon writer. Take that out of the equation, and dating when sober can seem confusing, frustrating, and even boring by comparison.
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Top of Page Couples in Therapy Vice Magazine conducted interviews with two couples on how difficult sober dating and relationships can be. In both couples, one person is a recovering drinker, and their respective partner drinks a lot. The sober partner in one of the couples admits that falling in love with a woman who actively drank was a threat to his sobriety; seeing how much fun she had when she was drunk, using her intoxication as a cover for his own desire to indulge, kissing her and smelling the alcohol on her breath, all pushed his abstinence to the brink.
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Alcohol is, officially and scientifically speaking, a social lubricant , but sometimes, merely being in the presence of someone who is drunk — or drinks in general — can be a lubricant all on its own. Top of Page Dating in a World of Temptation Dating in general is very different experience for women than it is for men. When the dynamics of gender psychology are exacerbated by substance abuse and the rehabilitation thereof, the perspectives can become even starker.
Sober people, for example, are still working through their past issues with alcohol; being around a drinker and being involved with a drinker can make for an uncomfortable relationship. Eventually, it may come down to accepting harsh realities. As most people in recovery will say, becoming sober entails living in a world that is not sober, and a dating scene that is inherently linked to alcohol consumption to make things happen.
Jezebel writes of the importance of communication. When the limits around alcohol are established, the people in the relationship have a better chance of being more comfortable in their new roles. A couple with this dynamic will have to spend some time determining where the boundaries are; the partner in recovery will be made to feel self-conscious if the drinking partner feels constrained and embarrassed by not being able to have a glass of wine with dinner, especially in the company of friends.
This may entail that the couple do things differently; some events might even be attended by the drinking partner alone, if there is danger that the environment may be too triggering for a relapse. Top of Page The Realities of Sober Dating For all this, it is not impossible for a drinker and a sober person to date; like any relationship, however, it requires work, patience, communication, and understanding.
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Ironically, the sober partner may have an advantage. Sober people know how to take care of their mind, body, and soul.
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Some do it through prayer, meditation, or yoga; others through exercise, hobbies, or community involvement. Recovery lasts for a lifetime, so sober people are in a constant state of improving and bettering themselves. While this is very useful in controlling the impulse to drink, it can also make a very firm foundation for a relationship with moderate drinkers.
But even moderate drinkers bring their own perceptions and ideas about addiction to the table. Despite an overwhelming body of research refuting antiquated and inaccurate ideas about substance abuse, many myths still persist. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported that the public feels more negatively about people with addiction issues than they do about people with mental health disorders. A responsible drinker who believes that alcoholism is a sign of a moral failing might not be a good match with a sober person, no matter how much work the person has put into recovery.
Top of Page Working Together, for Each Other Recovery, as any sober person will attest, is hard work; and like any form of hard work, a little help goes a long way. This means that friends and family should, when possible, participate in the pursuits that the person finds most beneficial to recovery. Any relationship requires sacrifice and compromise. A relationship between someone who enjoys drinking and gets drunk on occasion and someone who cannot drink at all will have to strike a very delicate balance of giving and taking.
Sometimes, the two partners will need to have different plans for an evening. Sometimes, the sober partner will have to prioritize the sobriety over the relationship. There is no guarantee that sober dating will always be fun or easy; but if both partners are willing to make it work, then they can find true happiness in each other.
Guide to Sober Dating
Guide to Sober Dating. The Loneliness of Sobriety. It is because of reasons like these that people should not only avoid entering into relationships in the first stretch of their sobriety, but they should also stay away from places and events that may prove to be too much of a challenge like bars, nightclubs, certain parties and sports events, etc.
The Awkwardness of Dating. A writer for Salon echoes the point: Dating in a World of Temptation. The Realities of Sober Dating. For all this, it is not impossible for a drinker and a sober person to date; like any relationship, however, it requires work, patience, communication, and understanding. Psychology Today explains that people who have been through addiction therapy have, by nature, spent a lot of time learning how they can improve themselves.
Through counseling, they have understood how to identify and process their emotions. A person who has been through recovery has made a deep commitment to living out values.