Most addiction experts agree that it is not a good idea to start relationships in very early recovery. Rehab is a time for self-care and reflection and dating during this time could be risky for your progress. Once you have completed a treatment program, are back on your feet, and feel more stable you might feel ready to get back in the game and start dating again.
There are a number of things to think about before you date after rehab but the most important consideration is your own well-being. Taking care of yourself and focusing on your recovery is your first priority. If you have misgivings you should wait until you are more confident that you can handle it. However, if you think that you have reached the right point to enter the dating world then here are some tips to keep in mind.
Be Honest and Upfront About Recovery
It is natural to feel hesitant about telling someone new about your recovery. If you are interested in them you might worry about being judged or scaring them away. However, it is best to avoid the temptation to make excuses for why you aren’t drinking or tell white lies to prevent them from finding out. It is important to begin a relationship with honesty and make sure that this person is comfortable with your sobriety. You don’t need to go into details right away but being upfront from the beginning will prevent any misunderstandings later on down the line.
Stay in Therapy and Go to Meetings
Recovery is an ongoing process that lasts for years even after you have completed a treatment program. Because dating can be uncertain territory it is important to continue meeting with your therapist or attend support groups throughout the experience. That way when certain issues come up in the relationship you can discuss them with people that you trust and you know will provide valuable advice. Therapy and support meetings will also keep you stable and give you the time you need to focus on your sobriety.
Take Things Slow
If you haven’t dated in a while, it might be tempting to rush into things especially if you feel a connection with someone. However, you need to consider the fact that you are still in recovery and there is always a risk of relapse. Addicts can sometimes use relationships as a transfer of addictions and become too codependent. Diving into a new relationship can trigger dopamine receptors and be used as a distraction from the work you really need to focus on. Taking things at a slow pace will prevent the type of crash and burn that can harm your recovery. Avoid any big decisions too early like moving in together within the first year.
Make Sobriety Your First Priority
No matter what your situation may be in dating someone, you need to remember that your own recovery comes first. The excitement of dating could lead you to neglect the parts of your routine that keep you sober. Make sure that your partner is supportive of your sobriety and understands that it needs to be your top priority.
Remain Independent and Give Yourself Space
It can be a bad idea to date someone from a place you frequent because it can disrupt your routine and endanger your recovery. You will not remain independent from them and their effect on you if you date someone from your work, your twelve-step group, or one of your favorite classes. If you have a falling out with them it will make these important places uncomfortable for you. Being independent of them and having your own space for your job, your sober life, or your hobbies will prevent the relationship from harming your path in recovery.