Sex is a normal part of a romantic relationship and a healthy way to express love and affectionate toward another human being. So why should those who are new to recovery avoid romantic relationships?
There are a few important things to know about how sex and dating can have a negative impact on recovery. Sometimes relationships and sexual behavior can take the place of a drug or alcohol addiction during early recovery and turn into unhealthy behaviors themselves.
Other times being in a relationship can tap into vulnerable or dysfunctionals parts of a person and eventually lead to a relapse. Sex and drugs are very similar in that they provide a sort of high and run the risk of being abused to avoid painful emotions.
Even though using drugs and sex are very different behaviors, they can both be abused in order to fulfill the same emotional void.
Here are 5 things to think about when it comes to dating in early recovery:
1. Dating In Rehab - It's common for many rehab centers to have a no dating policy during your treatment there (usually at least 30 days). The policy applies to other patients and staff members as well.
The rule is put in place to protect you from anything that will put your recovery in danger. If a person has problems with refraining from sexual relationships and dating during their stay in rehab, it could be a sign of a love addiction.
It's common for a person to discover that they have other underlying addictions when in rehab. It's actually a good place to discover where you have other addictive behaviors. Sometimes a person in rehab will turn to something like sex or relationships to achieve the same feeling of being high.
If this happens, you run the risk of sabotaging your recovery or even getting discharged from the rehab center. An all-male or all-female rehab center is often a good choice if you believe you may have this issue.
2. Dating During Early Recovery - After leaving rehab, the temptation to date becomes even stronger when you're placed back into your old life, with old friends and situations. It's important to find healthy outlets during this vulnerable time.
Many choose to volunteer, go back to school, or focus on their career. Choosing to start a relationship during this time can be especially damaging to your progress and can even lead to relapse.
Emotions run high and if things don't work out or just become difficult in the relationship, you could easily find yourself using drugs or drinking again. The first year of recovery should really be a time where you develop strength and self awareness to carry you into the further stages of recovery.
3. Dating Can Expose You To Drugs And Alcohol - Bars, parties, and clubs are the most common places to meet potential romantic partners, and also where drug and alcohol use is most rampant. If you're going out to these places in search of love, you may find the temptation to use or drink again too hard to resist.
Even if you avoid these places, just dating someone who isn't sober could pose a threat to your newfound sobriety. It's important to protect your sobriety before anything else in this early stage.
4. Difficulty With Refraining From Sex - If you find yourself having an especially hard time refraining from sex or dating during this early phase, it could be a sign of another addiction. Look at your behavior critically and ask for help if there is a recurring pattern there.
5. Revisiting People And Places - Another threat to early sobriety is rekindling a relationship with an ex or going back to old hangouts after rehab. These behaviors can lead to relapse or arouse other types of addiction.