Jumping back into the dating pool can be daunting for anyone, especially if you’re in recovery. But when I found myself in that exact situation years ago, I didn’t have any concerns. After all, I was in a good place – emotionally, mentally and financially. Most importantly, though, I felt good in my own skin and truly content with my place in the world.
Dating would be a snap, I reasoned, even with the extra element of sobriety. Boy, was I wrong. Instead, I made some easily avoidable mistakes with guys – mistakes that could’ve easily led me back to the bottle.
The Pitfalls of Dating
Here are a few of the relationship pitfalls you might want to avoid in early recovery:
- Considering the Sobriety of Another
My first relationship was with an old friend that turned into something more. I thought I knew the guy pretty well – we’d known each other since college, after all – but he had a hidden side. It wasn’t long before I found empty liquor bottles scattered around his place – stashed in the closet and inside empty drawers. I’d known he drank occasionally, but I was alarmed by the actual quantity of his alcohol consumption. This guy was a closet alcoholic and seeing his half-empty cocktails around the house could’ve easily served as a trigger for me. I knew, right then and there, it was time to end the relationship before my sobriety became compromised in any way.
- Getting Involved with Unnecessary Drama
Many years ago, I’d dated a guy who I felt was constantly involved with drama, mainly with ex-girlfriends. But when contemplating to reconnect with him, I figured we’d grown and matured in our time apart. Surely he’d changed in the 10 years since we last dated, right? After the first few weeks together, it felt like I’d been sucked right back into his crazy world. I no longer felt in control of my emotions anymore because his lies and manipulation were making me lose my mind. Sure enough, I discovered he was actually engaged – to someone I had no idea even existed. The up-and-down emotional roller coaster almost drove me to the brink; one where I wanted to use alcohol as an escape.
- Losing Focus on Myself
Recovery is about rediscovering who you are and taking time to cultivate the most important relationship: the one with yourself. My involvement with an extra-needy guy led to this revelation. He constantly wanted to chat on the phone and spend time together. Before I knew it, my free time was completely devoted to him, and I realized I hadn’t been taking time for myself or doing the activities I loved, such as reading, running and yoga. Most importantly, though, I wasn’t focused on my sobriety like I should’ve been since I’d put my needs behind another person’s.
My Happily Ever After
Not long after these disastrous encounters, I met my husband. From the beginning, the attraction was there on both sides, but it wasn’t a whirlwind romance. Our courtship wasn’t one that started fast and ultimately fizzled out. We took it slow, spent a lot of time getting to know each other, yet took time on our own so we didn’t neglect ourselves. In the years we dated, my sobriety was never jeopardized – one of the many reasons I knew he was The One.
Additional Reading: 5 Tips When Playing the (Sober) Dating Game
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