It is hard to find the right time and the right words to tell someone you’re dating that you are in addiction recovery. You might not be sure if they will understand, or even care about your past addiction. They may think it means something negative about you. Or perhaps you’re worried that if you tell someone that you’re in recovery then that will be the end of your relationship.
All these concerns are very common. When you’re in addiction recovery, it can be difficult to find someone who can accept you fully. While you want to be honest with the one you’re with, you also don’t want to potentially lose what you have right now. Maybe you’re not even sure yet if you can already trust the person with your painful past.
So when is it the right time to disclose your previous addiction to your partner? Is there an exact timeline that needs to be followed? Answering these questions below can help you find the appropriate timing for this type of conversation.
How long have you been dating?
Not every couple is the same so what may be the right time for one couple might not be applicable to what you have. How long have the two of you been seeing each other? Are you still in the “getting to know you” stage or have you passed the 3-month mark? The right time will depend on where you are right now in your relationship.
If you’re just texting and chatting virtually, meaning you have not seen each other in person yet, it is understandable to not disclose this information just yet. You can discuss this sensitive topic when you finally meet and you are comfortable in their company.
If you’re going on a first date, you’re not required to immediately talk about the topic that you are in addiction recovery. At this point, you’re just trying to get to know each other and you are not yet sure whether you’re going to see them again. When you go on a few more dates and before anything gets serious, that could be the right time to talk about your past addiction.
What does being serious mean? This will also depend on the two people in a relationship. For some people, a serious relationship is when you sleep together. Others equate serious to introducing your partner to your close friends or to your parents. It could also mean moving in together, getting engaged, or getting married. What does a serious relationship mean to you and to your partner? Before you get to the serious stage, it’s best to talk about your past histories.
What if you’ve been dating someone for 6 months, 1 year, or even longer? The sooner you tell your partner, the better. Don’t think that delaying the topic any longer will benefit your relationship. You may think that avoiding the conversation will just shield both of you from hurting but hiding this information could backfire on you.
Did the topic come up before?
You’re having dinner and your date asks you outright why you can’t drink alcohol. Should you tell your date the truth? Or should you make an excuse? If this is the first date, you may not want to talk about your past addiction just yet as explained earlier. But at the same time, you don’t want to be dishonest. What do you do?
If your date asks you whether you had an alcohol problem at any point in your relationship, answer honestly without going into too much detail. Gauge their reaction and see whether you want to tell them more or not. You may want to put your best foot forward but eventually, you’ll have to reveal it and the one you’re with will have to accept all of it.
If you’ve been in a relationship for some time, your partner would have noticed by now that you’re not drinking. Did your partner ever ask you why? What did you answer? Did you make that easy excuse? Did you outright lie about it when asked if you had an alcohol problem?
While it might be understandable to make excuses to a stranger, being dishonest to someone you’re in a relationship with will only hurt both of you in the long run. So if you have made an excuse before or lied about it, it’s better to rectify that lie as soon as possible. If the topic hasn’t come up yet, be prepared for it. Don’t lie. Instead, talk calmly and be honest about your past.
Setting up the conversation
It’s always best to be honest with people as soon as possible so they don’t have false expectations about your behavior and their own role in the relationship. But there are ways to let them know without scaring them off for good.
It’s very important to communicate your thoughts and feelings well when you tell someone about your past. When you decide to have this conversation, choose a time and place where you won’t be interrupted. Make sure that you’re both not distracted by other stuff and you can focus on each other.
When you open the topic, don’t start with the negatives, instead, talk about how well you’ve been handling the recovery process. However, don’t make light of your struggles. Make sure your partner understands that you’re working hard to be sober. Discuss whether your revelation will or will not affect the relationship that you currently have. Does it change anything from your end? Do you expect anything from your partner? Make these things clear.
After telling your partner about your past addiction, either your partner will accept your past or decide that it’s a deal-breaker. Remember that you cannot really change your past so whatever your partner’s reaction is, that is already beyond your control. This could be a very difficult time for both of you but it is something that you have to go through at some point to further your relationship.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today.