So, you’ve met someone. You like that person a lot and you feel that you have a potential future together. Everything seems to fall into place, however, there’s one concern: the person you are dating is a recovering addict. If you’ve never been in this situation before, it’s understandable to be a bit confused about how to act and what to do. It can be extra challenging if you are not familiar with anyone who struggled with the same issues before.
How should you handle the situation? Is it worth pushing through with the relationship? Will you be able to make it work? These are just some questions that many people who date recovering alcoholics or addicts ask. If you are dating or thinking of dating a recovering addict, there are some tips and advice that you could try out to make it easier for you to navigate your new relationship.
1. Ask yourself if you’re willing to accept the past
People who are in recovery usually have troubled pasts. Aside from their addiction struggles, there may be issues concerning their family relationships, mental wellbeing, career, and financial status, among others. While it’s easy to say that you have to fully accept their pasts and not to be judgmental, it’s way harder to do when you are in that situation already. There might be things that will be difficult for you to accept and nobody can really force you to change the way you feel.
Before going further into a new relationship with a person in recovery, it’s best to truthfully ask yourself whether you can be tolerant of your partner’s former life. Can you adopt a non-judgmental attitude towards their past experiences? Are you comfortable with the stigma that may still be attached to your partner? It is better to be honest with yourself from the very start of any relationship.
2. Be ready to minimize or give up alcohol around your date
If you have never struggled with drug or alcohol addiction, you may not think too much about having a bottle of beer while watching football or ordering a glass of wine over dinner. However, when you’re dating a recovering addict, these small things do matter.
Many people in recovery find it difficult to see others drinking, partying, or smoking weed. These things usually act as triggers for relapse. Even an old bottle of whiskey hidden in the kitchen pantry can serve as a temptation. Therefore, it is important that you become conscious of your alcohol intake when you’re with your date. If your date is visiting your house, clean out unused prescription medicines and lock away alcohol bottles. This is not about not trusting them, but this is you showing that you support their recovery.
3. Communicate openly about the addiction and recovery
Communication is the cornerstone of every relationship. It is extra important when one partner is in addiction recovery. Communicating your thoughts and feelings in a mature manner will help you avoid misunderstandings that could trigger a relapse.
If you are just starting to date, don’t immediately expect that your partner will be 100% open about their issues from the very start. While honesty is very important at the onset of any relationship, know that it takes time for some people to trust again and share their feelings and experiences. However, this does not mean that it’s okay to not just talk about the addiction at all as if it did not exist. Show that you are willing to listen but try to avoid giving unsolicited advice. Your partner may take it wrongly or may feel under pressure.
4. Be supportive of recovery meetings and activities
Aside from regular meetings, many rehab alumni programs host gatherings, volunteer programs, and other fellowship activities. People in recovery may also need to speak or meet up with a sober sponsor or other people in their sober group. These activities help recovering addicts maintain their sobriety in the long-term. You have to recognize that it is important for your partner to attend such activities. Don’t be resentful or jealous of the time that your partner spends working on recovery.
5. Expect that there will be ups and downs
Any relationship, old or new, will never be perfect. There will be happy moments and at the same time, challenges along the way. With dating a recovering addict, old issues may come up and your partner may relapse. Know that this is a possibility. Just because everything is going well now doesn’t mean that it’s all going to be happily ever after. This is not being pessimistic, instead, it’s being open-minded that this could happen so you know what you’re going into.
Dating a recovering addict can be challenging but the truth is, it really depends on the person as everyone is different. Whether that person is in recovery or has never had a drop of alcohol ever – there is really no guarantee if the relationship will work. You can only hope for the best.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse. Help is available.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment today.