When someone gets sober, the "good feelings" that were produced from using drugs or alcohol seem like they are no longer available due to the fact that using drugs and alcohol is no longer an option.
Dating in recovery can certainly have its problems, but we have a few simple solutions that might help those who are looking for recovery romance:
1. Give It Some Time
People new to sobriety are looking for something to fill that gap, and one of the most glaring of these is a relationship, be it sexual, intimate or otherwise. There is a tendency to jump on the dating bandwagon too quickly.
It is usually common advice to wait for a year before engaging in intimacy again after first getting sober. Some may argue that this is not in any of the literature that is used in sobriety, mainly the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and so it is not bonafide advice.
However, there is barely any mention of dating or intimacy in recovery in the literature at all. As a result, unwritten guidelines have been developed over the years, and the most common one that is heard all across sobriety is to wait for a while, the most common time frame being at least a year.
The reason why this is is because when someone first gets sober, a lot of change is about to come to them. Ideally, by the time the person gets their first year of sobriety, they have done their 12 steps and strong, permanent change has settled in. They are their "new selves" as opposed to being what they were in their disease.
2. Avoid Trigger Areas
One of the most common places for someone to go looking for a significant other in todays society is parties and bars. In these places, people are more relaxed and casual and prone to mingle.
However, for a recovering alcoholic or drug addict, these can also be places where there are triggers present to use or drink again. Not all parties have drinking or using going on in them, but it is very common.
Bars, of course, serve alcohol. If you are in recovery and looking to find someone, try and avoid places and scenarios such as these so that you are not tempted to pick up again.
3. Avoid Old Relationships And Old Behaviors
If one finds themselves at a lack of meeting others that they are interested in going out with, there is that old temptation to try and re-kindle the old relationships that happened before sobriety.
This can be perilous because it is not uncommon that the disease of addiction had its hand in the relationship as well, what with going out and drinking or using drugs together.
Avoid the temptation to reach out to former significant others, trying to get something going again, because it is almost the same as going back to old areas where using or drinking took place- the power of the memories and the temptation from the disease might cause relapse.
4. Understand That You Have Changed
There is a method to dating, for sure; some may argue that there is an art to it. When having lived a lifetime before getting sober, one is used to the old methods they used for attracting a significant other.
But getting sober and learning a new way of life changes someone, sometimes profoundly. These old methods may not necessarily work anymore because they "don't fit" the new person that has arisen out of being sober.
Take some time to figure out who you are again before partaking in dating, because if you don't, it will show and things could not go well.
5. Beware Your Expectations
It is impossible not to have expectations when going into the world of dating. We all want someone attractive and who fits well with us, and it is not so easy to come across someone like that.
Getting a date alone is difficult enough, let alone find someone who is interesting and single. But when the time comes, leave your expectations at as simple a level as possible. When sober, despite how long one has been in a program, there are constant changes going on inside. Beware what you are hoping for and what you are expecting so as to not get let down and discouraged.
For anybody who identifies as an addict or alcoholic, dating too early in sobriety can lead to dark places and bad temptations that will ultimately test the mettle of their sobriety.