Moving through recovery is challenging when it comes to figuring out how to navigate romantic relationships. Some people say you must avoid dating, others say dating is okay with some boundaries. That first year is the toughest phase of your recovery. Newly sober people who struggle with alcoholism and addiction are better off thinking about how to navigate that first year without interference from romantic relationships. Women, especially, tend to get emotionally involved with relationships. That investment of time can take away from recovery. It may also jeopardize sobriety if women make poor choices in their dating relationships or end up with someone harmful to sobriety and recovery. Find out why it is helpful to give time to heal that first year in recovery and how to navigate it.
Dating and Recovery
A dating timeout can be helpful in your first year of recovery. If the person is not entirely sober themselves, it might be triggering to be around bars, alcohol, and their friends who drink. New relationships test lots of boundaries and experiences. Strategies to deal with this might only help a little bit, but eventually, they can fail if the person is not sober long enough to know who will be a good partner for them. Dating is not the most important thing in the first year. Recovery is the main focus. Don’t lose focus on the fact that other people may not share sobriety and recovery goals. Eventually, you will find someone who thinks and feels the same way about life (and recovery).
A reliable group of friends is vital for recovery. Whether it is meeting in the basement of a place of worship, meeting on the basketball court, or a coffee shop, friends are the lifeblood of recovery. They help people do things together and develop new friendships. Staying isolated or trying to navigate recovery without support is going to be difficult. Isolation is not a good idea in the first year. That is the time to cement effective and healing relationships that will support long-term recovery and be there when dating resumes and challenges arise.
Make a Solid Commitment
Making a commitment is essential for people in recovery. It says to others they are serious about the challenge. Accountability is a huge part of recovery. It helps remind people of the goal to keep those who may be interested in dating away, even if it seems tempting. The people in the accountability group can remind them what they are doing and why. When they are told why they are doing what they are doing, it helps them find hope and support. A substantial commitment means honoring what is said and even written down in the company of others who can help hold the person accountable when they struggle (and also when they succeed).
Make a list of things that are fun to do. Abusing drugs and being with others who drink is in the past. Write down what the old goals were and consider any new ones that may have been on the backburner. Experiment with new foods and games or activities. Try different things. Once repeated enough, these events bring comfort and healing. Think about what those goals might be including:
- Going to new places around town
- Trying new hobbies
- Experiencing new workouts
- Losing or gaining weight
- Working on self-confidence and esteem
The more goals a person sets, the better they can focus. The key is to focus on a few goals at a time off the list and track measurable ways to meet those goals over time. This will help bring a person confidence each time they reach that goal. Confidence is critical for growing and healing in relationships.
Secrets are not healthy or healing in recovery. In recovery, it is crucial to know who to share secrets with and who is a safe person. A sponsor is usually the most confidential support person someone has in recovery, outside of a therapist’s office. Depending on the situation, the person can generally share anything as long as they or someone else are not at risk.
Reach Out for Support
Don’t let things linger. Relationships are important, but not the be-all, end-all. If a person dates during the first year, it can be hard to focus on recovery. Although it might seem harsh, single women can rest assured they will be ready to find someone later. Don’t rush into it. Wait for a little bit and heal before putting relationships back in the picture. It will be much better and healthier in the long run.
Why the First Year Matters
That first year is crucial because the brain and body are going through many changes. There is a lot to deal with that first year. Recovering from alcohol addiction or substance use can come with emotional shifts and even mental health issues. Focusing on how to deal with those in a healthy way, paves the road for better relationships overall.
Casa Capri is designed for women who are struggling with addiction to find hope and a purpose. We provide a way forward in recovery to learn how to navigate relationships when you are ready. Call us to get started: 844-593-8020
Melissa Holmes Goodmon, Founder & CEO of Casa Capri Recovery, obtained her BA in Psychology and is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor (LAADC) specializing in women’s core issues. She is recognized as a leader in the field of mental health and substance abuse recovery where she has been an advocate since 2006.