How to Adapt When Dating a Recovering Addict?
Finding out that someone you’re interested in dating is in recovery can be overwhelming. Whether you’ve been exposed to a person in recovery from addiction or not, it’s normal to feel hesitant about getting involved with one romantically. Under the right circumstances, however, it’s possible to have a fulfilling romantic relationship with someone in recovery from addiction to alcohol or drugs. For those in recovery, unmanaged stress can be especially dangerous. Learning how to prevent stress during addiction recovery from overwhelming us is key to living a healthy, sober life. If you’ve decided to move forward with dating someone in recovery, here are some tips to help your relationship a lot easier.
If you are interested in getting romantically involved with someone, yet you have just found out that this person is in recovery, you likely will be wondering if this attribute is something to be concerned about. The old saying “Love is blind” may have some validity. Still, you should practice precaution before taking that next step to start or deepen a relationship with a person recovering from alcohol or drugs.
One way to adapt when dating someone in recovery is to understand where they are coming from. Knowing your partner’s past is part of building connection and trust, as will all relationships. Addiction is a problematic and stressful situation. It takes patience and hard work to overcome this condition. Therefore, when understanding recovering addicts and relationships, it’s essential to know what they went through.
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The Life of a Recovering Addict
If you’ve never been dating someone in recovery, you may be unfamiliar with what recovery entails. While you might have some vague ideas about what a recovering person does, you may also have some misconceptions. Setting the record straight is essential for any interpersonal relationship you want when someone says they’re “in recovery.”
Recovery is not just about abstaining from substances or behaviors but dealing with emerging feelings. Some people relapse. Addiction is a disease that requires daily management. How long does it take a person to overcome their addiction? Does addiction last a lifetime? These are some of the questions that you might want to ask.
Addiction is an inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior causing psychological and physical harm. Addiction has been defined as a treatable, chronic medical disease that may involve complex interactions among brain circuits, the environment, genetics, and an individual’s life experiences.
There are a couple of different opinions about whether addiction lasts a lifetime or you grow out of it, and it depends on the person and their journey and how they deal with life. People grow and change. People can develop their coping skills. A person in recovery can grow and learn what triggers their addiction. The person can learn how they’re feeling and why susceptibility and weaknesses become less and less over time. The person in recovery may eventually learn to live life, the good and the bad, without harming themselves or others anymore.
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Benefits of Dating Someone in Recovery
Nowhere in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) does it say that being in recovery means you have to date only other people who are themselves in recovery. However, there’s a strong argument for dating someone who is working on a program of recovery from drug addiction. Here are some of the benefits of dating someone in recovery.
Both of you will be committed to living a sober lifestyle.
- When dating someone in recovery, it’ may not be important for both individuals to have everything in common; in fact, that would be quite boring. But, it is vital to be on the same page about certain things – the important stuff, such as being sober. Otherwise, tensions, misunderstandings, and resentments can happen.
You don’t have to deal with kissing someone with alcohol on their breath.
- Some people can’t stand the smell of wine, beer, or alcohol on someone’s breath, especially if they’re kissing them. By dating someone in recovery, you can ensure never having to deal with this.
No awkward explanation why you don’t drink.
- Especially when in the first meeting-and-getting-to-know-one-another phase of dating, you won’t have to deal with the questions about why you don’t want to meet in a bar and why you don’t drink.
You can support one another in your program.
- Two individuals in recovery and dating one another can lovingly remind each other to make meetings and talk to sponsors.
You’ll be with someone who is aware of their issues and who has a solution for dealing with them.
- There are so many people who don’t have an issue with substance abuse or addiction who go through life being completely miserable, not knowing why or that they can change.
You both have support outside the relationship to help when you experience the inevitable bump in the road.
- Whether it’s your respective sponsors or other sober supports, each of you has someone with which they can confide and from whom you can seek advice.
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8 Tips for Dating Someone in Recovery
This article outlines eight helpful tips to consider when dating someone in recovery.
Take It Slow
Jumping headfirst into a new relationship is never a good idea, but taking it slow when you’re dating someone in recovery is especially important. Concentrate on getting to know each other as people before rushing into a romantic relationship
Remember It’s Not Your Job to Fix Anyone
Remember that you can’t fix problems for your partner. You can be a source of encouragement, love, and support, but the decision to stay in recovery belongs to your partner alone.
Be Ready to Accept the Consequences
Individuals in recovery often have several challenging issues in their past. For instance, they may have serious financial problems, a criminal record, or a child they’ve lost custody of.
Remember that past mistakes don’t have to be a deal breaker, but it’s essential to consider what you’re getting into if you decide to move forward. Your partner’s problems will also be yours when the relationship becomes serious.
To be a supportive partner, you need to have a solid understanding of substance abuse and recovery. Visit sites to learn more about the latest research into the nature of addiction. You can also find a wealth of information resources at your local public library.
Moreover, attending a support group for the friends and family of those in recovery (Al-Anon and Nar-Anon) may be beneficial. These groups let you learn more about recovery while providing a sympathetic ear when you face challenges in your relationship.
Put Recovery First
Individuals in recovery generally have a lot of meetings and appointments to attend. This can make planning dates and other social activities challenging, but your partner’s recovery needs to be the priority in your relationship. Time spent with support groups and addiction counselors is an investment in a better future for both of you.
Understand Your Partner’s Triggers
Individuals in recovery have certain sights, sounds, and situations that can trigger the desire to drink or use drugs. For instance, visiting a place one used to go to while drunk is a common trigger. Speak to your partner about his or her cravings and what triggers the urge to use.
Once you understand your partner’s triggers, you can work together to manage exposure proactively. The intensity of your partner’s cravings will likely decrease as time passes, but addiction is a chronic disease. This means you’ll have to be aware of the risk of relapse as long as you’re together.
Don’t Neglect Self-Care
When you love a person in recovery, you can usually become so preoccupied with their needs that you fail to focus on caring for yourself. No matter how complex your relationship gets, you must make time for well-balanced meals, sleep, exercise, and stress-relieving activities. Self-care is not selfish. Taking care of your own needs gives you the strength to participate fully in the relationship.
Remember That All Relationships Are Complicated
While being in a relationship with a person in recovery can be demanding at times, it’s important to remember that all relationships have their challenges. Every couple has disagreements and obstacles to navigate. However, as long as you’re determined to work through the rough patches with a clear head and open mind, a person in recovery can make an excellent partner.
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Dating Someone in AA
It is easy to create a list of drawbacks and reasons why it is unwise to date someone with a history of alcohol abuse. What if they relapse? This is an understandable concern and a reason for both people in the relationship to move slowly and cautiously. This allows time for both individuals to get to know each other and gain emotional intimacy before jumping into a serious relationship.
Honesty and openness are critical in all relationships, especially when one or both partners are sober. Dating can be a perfect moment to learn about each other, talk about triggers, and what types of situations feel comfortable. Some recovering alcoholics have no issue if their partner drinks and feel no uneasiness going to bars or clubs where alcohol is served. For others, those situations are too risky and need to be avoided. Dating someone in recovery can be a learning process and discovering whether there is compatibility.
Here are a few tips on how to navigate the world of dating someone in AA:
Understanding and Empathy Are Key
Dating someone in recovery demands understanding and empathy. If you’re going to be with someone who is not sober when you are, make sure you find someone who is the most understanding person in the world. It may sound like an overstatement, but it’s not.
There is an Alcoholics Anonymous for Family Members
It’s called Al-Anon, and if you’re serious about making your relationship work, it’s probably one of the best things you can do for yourself and your partner. Each meeting consists of a group of people who, just like you, love someone who is an alcoholic. Everyone shares their struggles, triumphs, and stories, which help them recover from the effects of their loved one’s drinking. When dating someone in recovery, sharing is encouraged but not mandatory, and just like a regular AA meeting, al-anon meetings are anonymous.
Everyone in Recovery Has Baggage (and You Need to Be Okay With That)
Everyone has emotional baggage – even you! — but when you’re in recovery, it can be a considerable deterrent to dating. Keeping your search for sober singles within the confines of the AA community can work out much better. You’re more likely to find someone who will not only accept your past but can also relate to you from their own experiences.
Be Prepared to Walk Away
You need to know when your relationship is stable and healthy or if you must make the difficult decision to call it off, even if only temporarily. If your partner needs to put their focus on recovery, you should do anything you can to be supportive. Dating someone in recovery might mean having an honest conversation about your role in their recovery, but it can also sometimes mean walking away from the situation.
It can ultimately be the best for both of you despite your feelings. But no one can tell you if it’s a good idea. You kind of just have to follow your heart in such matters. When dating someone in recovery, just be honest with yourself and your partner, and you’ll make the right decision.
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 NIAAA – https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/research/niaaa-recovery-from-alcohol-use-disorder/definitions
 What Is The Role Of A Substance Abuse Counselor In Recovery? (welevelupnj.com)
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