Alcohol, within the realms of dating, is commonly used to demolish fears and cultivate “liquid courage.” Perhaps drugs and alcohol make us feel more flirtatious, outgoing, or just overall likable. In general, dating can be extremely intimidating, uncomfortable, and even disappointing. When faced with the reality of doing all of that completely sober, some would gracefully bow out. However, many have done it. Recovery is hard, and dating in recovery is even harder – but many are willing to walk through fear in hopes of finding their significant other.
Many of us have used our addiction to propel the desirable personas suitable for varying situations. Whether we were looking to become more courageous, sociable, or even more willing to welcome vulnerability many of us sought out liquid courage to produce the desired effect. Maybe our only experience dating was wrapped up in the love affair with our beloved vices. Either way, George Sand said it best “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”
There’s a certain vulnerability required when embarking on the road to long-term sobriety. We can utilize what we have learned, in recovery, to our advantage when we start dating.
Focus on Your Sobriety
It’s not uncommon for the all-or-nothing mentality to plague us, even after we get sober. Life is all about balance…this is also true within the parameters of interpersonal relationships. Before we can add value to any relationship, we must first make sure our lives are in order. It’s been said many times “Anything you put before your sobriety, you will lose.” Making our recovery the number one priority is the only way to ensure our sobriety and decrease our chances of relapse.
Self-Love is the Best Love
Many of us have walked into the realm of recovery, beaten into a state of submission, by way of incomprehensible demoralization. Most of us have defined ourselves by our failures and inadequacies. This unhealthy mentality has utterly destroyed our self-esteem. It has been proven that we are able to love someone only at the capacity we love ourselves. It is crucial that we redefine ourselves without the presence of a drink or drug.
It’s very likely that the person we want to engage in a relationship with is not interested in getting to know the train-wreck version of who we used to be. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Loving yourself is not an overnight matter, which is why many would suggest halting on dating until after maintaining a solid year of sobriety first. Some of us may settle for unhealthy, codependent relationships if we are not careful to rediscover who we truly are and love ourselves exactly as we are.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Sobriety can be a super sensitive and personal subject matter, especially within the realms of dating. So when is the right time to mention your recovery? The answer, to this question, can be affected by many contributing factors. Addiction statistics reveal that over 23 million people are actively involved in addiction recovery, it’s likely the person you’re dating has been affected by addiction in some facet. A good rule of thumb is to bring up the subject of sobriety in a natural way.
Most of us have spent our lives, as the actor, playing the perfect part based on who everyone else thought we should be. Now that we are sober, we learn how to be and accept ourselves for who we really are. Whether it’s revealing your sobriety, less than favorable clingy tendencies, or even your fear of vulnerability…it’s always best to let the person know up front. If you notice a shift in the conversation, then this relationship probably isn’t for you anyways.
One of the best parts of being in recovery is the personal evolution required to maintain sobriety. As addicts in recovery, we learn how to take care of mind, body, and soul. Some recovering addicts do it through working out, prayer, meditation, 12-step fellowships, and new hobbies. Those of us, in recovery, are constantly trying to better ourselves. This daily platform for growth is not only beneficial in relapse prevention but it can also cultivate a strong foundation for future relationships.