Dating is a part of life, but it can feel like a difficult challenge to people in recovery. This blog post will walk you through the process, and offer tips on how to date after alcohol or drug rehabilitation.
We’ll start with some advice: Don’t date the first person you meet! You need time to get your feet under you before adding another person into your world. Focus on yourself, rejuvenate your sense of self, and build a strong foundation for your recovery. You want to be the best version of yourself you can be, not a broken person who needs to date someone else to “make you whole again.” Jason Shiers from Wide World Coaching says “ you will feel whole when you realise you were never broken”
Next, focus on your goals. Decide what you want from dating (for example: marriage? casual dating? friends with benefits?). You’ll also want to protect yourself and others from sexually transmitted infections/diseases. In order to do this, practice safer sex.
You’ll also want to make peace with your past. This may include making amends to people you have hurt, forgiving yourself for past mistakes, and letting go of any resentment or emotional baggage you carry from the past. For example, if your mom was abusive when raising you, forgive yourself for any bruises she inflicted on you as a child. You don’t need to connect with her at this point in your life; forgive and move on.
You’ll want to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. If you know of a friend who is being abused or mistreated in any way, speak up. You don’t need to have their back in order to have theirs!
A word about women and dating: You may be thinking, “I’m a man. How can I ask a woman out?” In recovery, you’ll find that it’s best to wait until you’re ready before approaching a woman. However, if you’re comfortable with yourself and your recovery, you can always approach anyone – man or woman!
If you’re a woman, remember that men’s recovery is separate from yours. A man, especially one in recovery from addiction, may not have his full faculties around women at this time. So be patient and respectful (and don’t even think about asking him out until he’s ready) while he finds his way. You’ll both be better for it in the end.
There are many ways to build healthy relationships. One of the best is to find a mooring, or a person who makes you feel safe and comfortable in your recovery. This mooring may be someone you’ve dated in the past, an old friend, or even another recovering addict! For example: you could find someone through one of the many 12-step programs (such as Narcotics Anonymous or Al-Anon). You could make friends with people in your sober living facility, or at a sponsor’s home. What you’re looking for is someone who understands what it’s like to be in recovery, who has your back, and who can give you advice. The best part about this mooring is that he/she may turn into a romantic partner down the road!
Last but not least: Remember that recovery is for life! You’ll make mistakes along the way. However, you learn from your mistakes and move forward stronger than before. Dating is a big part of this. Don’t be afraid to take that leap forward!
One tip you will want to remember when you are ready to begin dating again is that you can’t put too much pressure on yourself. You need to be comfortable with who you are first if you’re going to attract someone else into your life. If your self-esteem is faltering, ask a close friend for advice or contact a therapist or counselor. Be honest with them about how you feel; never hide anything from them. You’ll be able to work through your emotional issues with them, which in turn will help you with your self-esteem. Self-esteem is important if you want to find someone who is attracted to you. They will see that you are confident and strong.
Be honest about your feelings. If you want someone, and that someone is not interested in a relationship, don’t be afraid to tell them what you are feeling. You want to be on the same page with your partner in terms of what you’re looking for in a long-term relationship. If you aren’t sure what your feelings mean, here are some suggestions about how to tell someone that you want them without being too forward (you can always be more direct if it feels right).