It can come as a surprise when you’re dating someone who reveals that they’re a recovering drug addict or alcoholic. It goes without saying that they probably led a lifestyle that seems vastly different from the one their living with you now. While some people can easily relate to and embrace the fact that everyone has a past, others can find it hard to reconcile the two. Being in a relationship with a recovering alcoholic or addict certainly comes with unique challenges.
If you’ve decided to move forward with dating an addict, here are some dos and don’ts. Use these tips to make having a relationship with an addict in recovery a lot easier for you both.
The Dos of Loving A Recovering Addict
- Assess Their Sobriety: Recovering addicts can be some of the healthiest people you’ve ever met, but it takes a lot of hard work to get to that point. If you plan to date someone in recovery, it’s important that they have at least one year of sobriety under their belt and be actively involved in some kind of support program.
- Accept the Baggage: Addiction leaves behind some pretty unique baggage. Some people in recovery may have accrued debt, legal problems or fractured family relationships. These are all issues that you will have to discuss at some point, especially if it is a long-term relationship. With that being said, it’s essential that you be truthful about your own tolerance level.
- Be Supportive: Depending on the individual needs of your partner, it’s probably going to be important that you avoid drinking or using drugs around him. Loving a recovering alcoholic may mean that your date or dinner plans also need to be worked around group meetings or support groups.
- Don’t Forget About Yourself: Recovering addicts often go to regular meetings and therapy sessions, along with spending a considerable amount of time working on themselves and their personal relationships. In all likelihood, your partner will encourage you to do the same. This is just to make sure you don’t become dependent on the relationship for your own happiness or inadvertently slip into the role of “caregiver.”
The Don’ts of Dating Someone In Recovery
- Don’t Allow Yourself to be Manipulated: People in recovery will make mistakes in relationships just like anyone else, but don’t allow your partner to use their recovery as a scapegoat. For example, being in recovery does not justify him cutting off communication for days or weeks at a time or constantly asking to borrow money from you.
- Don’t Be Judgmental: Most recovering addicts are willing to go to great lengths in order to move past their checkered pasts. This step is vital for rebuilding self-esteem and trust. However, if you constantly question him about their whereabouts or go out of your way to keep tabs on him, the relationship is doomed. They will eventually resent you for the obvious lack of trust. Unless you personally see warning signs that your partner is slipping, you must maintain an open mind and let the unwarranted suspicions go.
Sobriety takes determination and commitment as does being in a relationship with a recovering addict. Recovering alcoholics and recovering addicts know the key to relationships is honesty and openness. Use the early stages of your relationship to get to know one another, discuss triggers, and even boundaries.
Recovering alcoholics and relationships can be a lot of work, but the intimacy and love of a partner can be worth the effort, just like being in recovery. Any relationship requires sacrifice and compromise, especially in the sense that there is a give and take flow to relationships. But you can have a healthy relationship with a recovering addict or if you are in recovery yourself by reaching out for professional support and help. Don’t let a loved one suffer in their addiction or recovery alone – and reach out today for a helping hand if you need one.
Additional Reading: Use the 12 Traditions to Improve Your Relationship