How to (Re) Build Romance After Treatment

Addiction takes a toll on people and their personal relationships. The stress that comes from addiction is inevitable on people, especially those closest to you. Romantic relationships often suffer from broken trust and discomfort around what the reality is like in recovery. Broken dreams and plans that were never completed can lead to frustration and sadness. There are ways to negotiate rebuilding romance after treatment with a partner or loved one. Becoming isolated can bring more challenges, so working to rebuild those connections is important to healing. 


The time to work on your relationship is not while the person is struggling with addiction or has just entered rehab. While it may be easy to give up on them, it is better to give them some time to sort things out. If your partner enters rehab, it may feel like a deep sigh of relief. Your partner likely has recognized their problem and is working to relieve the pain and suffering they have caused. Rehab is a difficult journey for everyone. Wherever family therapy is offered, it should be done with everyone in one place who wants to participate. Romantic partners and spouses, particularly, should join their partner in rehab. Some other ways to show you care about your partner’s journey in rehab:

  • Keep conversations focused on how they are growing and transforming their lives
  • Try not to harp on the negative aspects
  • Don’t constantly bring up past mistakes
  • Learn what you can about their addiction and their journey

Counseling support is often provided for family and romantic partners. If they are able to express feelings openly, this will help them learn to identify unhealthy behavior that may have led to substance use. If you are in recovery, tell your partner you are working as hard as you can. Treat yourself to something when you are done and take a vacation together or visit friends to get away for a while. 

Post Treatment Rebuilding 

One of the hardest things to do after treatment is to focus on relationships that were broken from addiction. Repairing them is a priority, and a good place to start is with your partner. Mending your relationship after addiction will take time. Things may never feel normal again but they can settle into a new normal. Attending sessions with a counselor or therapist is helpful. Couples therapy can help people navigate their way back to a new relationship after addiction. 

Watch for Triggers

You or your partner could easily trigger your addiction to come full force back again. If you or your partner are stressed, you may be dealing with triggers. Your partner may struggle with how to best support you or if you are supporting a partner in recovery, you may be working to remove triggers from the environment. Whatever it is you decide to do, mutually agree on it and decide to follow your heart. Don’t let triggers slip by. Instead, be aware of them if you want to work at avoiding them and mitigating their effect.

Have Fun Sober

Everything you do together will change from now on. Even if you enjoyed a glass of wine for a while, you should try to be sober around your partner in solidarity with their work. If you are home from rehab, ask your partner to work on an agreement with you. Try to visit fun places like zoos and museums that don’t offer alcohol as part of the experience. 

Stay Honest and Open

Openly communicate your needs to one another. Be honest and forthcoming about what you need from them. If they need you to report to them how you’re doing for a while, do that. Be willing to talk about tough things with a partner. Think about how to deal with addiction differently now and realize changes cannot occur if they are not communicated. Communication is the most important factor in growing together in recovery.

Move Slowly

You cannot move too quickly into a new relationship. The same is true of a new relationship in recovery. You are responsible for your corner of the woods, so to speak. Continue to honor what works for you but don’t hesitate to work on slowing things down for a while. They are not the same and pushing for things to move too fast can impact your loved one negatively. Expect there is a lot of work to be done and the only way is one step at a time.

Step Forward Together

Attend recovery groups together if you want to share that bond. Have your own personal group and space but also maintain connection by going to therapy and groups together. This will help build solidarity for the journey forward. You are facing a lot of changes, be sure to stay on the same page as you work on rebuilding what was lost. 

Everyone experiences a lot of emotions and feelings in recovery. Whether you are the partner of someone or you are the person in rehab, you are going to have to fight hard to rebuild some key relationships. Most people experience a lot of negative emotions from those addicted to drugs and alcohol. It helps to have a partner who is committed to you and working with you to be the best you can be. It is important that you are willing and open to change for the best results in the long term. 

photo courtesy of Online for Love

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