Romance in Recovery: Are You Rushing Your Relationship?
For someone in recovery, a new romantic relationship can seem like a gift from Heaven. The struggle and pain of recovery can be forgotten for a time, replaced by the bloom of infatuation and the expectation of more good things to come. But these positive feelings also come with a dilemma. They can create a sense of urgency to push a budding relationship further, sooner, to “rush” the next step, in an attempt to solidify the positive energy that accompanies a new romance. Especially for those in recovery, there are dangers in giving in to this kind of romantic urgency.
Signs of Rushing a Relationship
Relationships take time to evolve. One of the first clues that you (or your romantic partner) are rushing things is that you spend excessive amounts of time together too soon. “We’ve only been dating for ten days,” Erica excitedly told me, as she described her relationship with her new boyfriend. “But we’ve been spending every available minute together. We work together and then he comes over every evening after work.”
I responded that, yes, I did think the gift probably would be “too much” at this stage of her relationship, and it would be a sign of rushing the romance. Expressions of love, even when they are part of cute gifts, send a message. If Erica and her boyfriend have not yet reached the stage where they can honestly say “I love you” in conversation, to send this message through a gift would be deceiving. It could also possibly cause the boyfriend to panic, if he does not desire to make a commitment at this time.
Dangers of Moving Too Fast
If you find yourself rushing a romantic relationship, ask yourself, What’s the rush? Take some time to reflect: Is this something I do often? Do I have a pattern of pushing my relationships forward too fast? The desire to move too fast is a red flag for codependency. It is a sign that you may feel a need to “seal the deal” quickly and lock in a romantic partnership. Clinginess and unwillingness to share a partner with friends or to allow them to have other same sex friendships are other signs. If a relationship is going to be an enduring one, you have all the time in the world to allow things to evolve. There is no need to rush. It is important that you honestly identify whether or not you may have a tendency toward codependency in your romantic relationships.
It is important that you honestly identify whether or not you may have a tendency toward codependency in your romantic relationships.-Rita Milios
Codependence often starts out feeling like true love, or “love at first sight.” But this kind of infatuation cannot last, because it is based on need, not true affection or love. Codependent relationships are about filling each other’s emotional holes, and this task soon becomes wearing on both partners. People in recovery, as well as their romantic partners, may be especially at risk for forming codependent relationships. People in recovery often have difficulty identifying, owning and regulating their emotions. They may have altered thought processes and have difficulty making accurate interpretations. For this reason, many 12-step programs recommend that members do not form romantic relationships with other members. People in recovery need to focus on their own needs first, vs. someone else’s. Once they become emotionally strong and secure in their own worth, they are ready to start a romance with less risk for codependence being a part of the mix.
Another risk when you rush a romantic relationship is that you may not get a chance to really know the person you are involved with. According to a study conducted by the global research agency OpinionMatters for the Huffington Post, 53 percent of Americans reported that they lie on their online dating profiles. Today, many relationships either start online or involve communications that take place largely via digital devices. Replacing face-to-face communication with communication via text messages, for example, increases the risk that you will not immediately see the “true colors” of a partner because you are cut off from important aspects of the communications, such as body language, spontaneous reactions and tone of voice. Only by allowing a relationship to evolve over a sufficient time span can you be certain of the true personality and real values of a potential partner.
How to Resist Rushing a Romantic Relationship
If you are in recovery, how do you decide when it is prudent to get into, or escalate, a relationship, so that your recovery is not at risk for being compromised?
- Don’t tie any relationship decisions to a calendar event. Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and your partner’s birthday are considered to be some of the most popular times to propose marriage. But an important step such as this should only be taken when both partners are really ready, regardless of the pressure to have the memory of the proposal attached to a special day of the year.
- Make sure you are on the same page with your partner about where the relationship stands. Some people are just naturally more romantic than others. Don’t let the air of romance cloud your view of your relationship status. In every relationship, there comes a time for an honest discussion about “where we are.” But having this discussion too early can backfire.
- Most importantly, be true to yourself. Give yourself the gift of perspective and recognize whether you are about to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. If you can honestly say that you are interested in moving a relationship forward because you want to, rather than need to, then it may be time to discuss this option with your partner. If not, then be kind to both yourself and your partner. Take this time to learn to love and support yourself. Become happy with yourself, regardless of your relationship status. The rest will then take care of itself, no matter how long it takes.
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