From blind dates to online dating apps, dating takes many forms. For the average person, dating can be a whirlwind of different emotions including excitement, anxiety, and stress. For someone new to addiction recovery, dating may be even more complicated.
The Dangers of Dating in Early Recovery
Dating can be fun and exciting, but for someone just leaving our Ohio detox center and adjusting to life in recovery, dating may be dangerous. If you are just beginning your sobriety journey, jumping into a relationship or trying to date may not be in your best interest. Some of the biggest reasons to avoid dating in early recovery include:
- Becoming codependent and losing your identity
- Falling into a toxic relationship or choosing an unhealthy partner
- Experiencing overwhelming triggering emotions
- Replacing substance use with an addiction to dating or intimacy
- Becoming distracted from your recovery journey
When people first leave residential treatment they need to learn not only how to stand on their own two feet, but also in many cases, who they are and work on forming a new identity. If someone else is invited into the picture too soon, the person in recovery may struggle to develop their identity and could become too dependent on their partner. Without knowing who they are yet, some people may be more prone to throw themselves into a toxic relationship as well. Dating can also be an emotional rollercoaster for anyone, but dating in early recovery may be overwhelming. Recovery itself is an emotional journey and when you add dating to the mix, these extra emotions can wear on a person’s mental health and be triggering. Someone in early recovery who is still trying to navigate their way may not be ready to handle these emotions and could risk relapse. In addition, getting sober can sometimes leave a void in the person’s life, and some people in early recovery are tempted to fill this void with another addiction. Dating and intimacy could be these replacements and lead to unhealthy or risky behavior. Your recovery should be your priority, and dating in early sobriety may be a distraction. It is important to focus on yourself before involving another person.
How Long Should You Be Sober Before Dating?
The exact timeline for dating after rehab will be different for everyone, but generally, most addiction specialists recommend not dating in recovery for at least a year. This length of time allows you to focus on yourself and your recovery instead of getting wrapped up in a potentially harmful relationship that could derail your progress. Avoid dating in early recovery and instead:
- Build up your support system
- Learn who you are without drugs and alcohol
- Mend broken relationships with loved ones
- Set goals and work toward them
- Find a purpose
- Get healthy physically and mentally
- Focus on your recovery and learning how to cope with triggers
After a year of self-discovery and finding your footing in recovery, you may be ready to invite a partner into your life, but do not rush it. Dating can make you feel vulnerable and tempt you into putting your recovery on the backburner. Only start dating when you feel you are ready and ease into it. If it becomes too overwhelming, you can always stop until a later time. Dating in addiction recovery can be challenging, but at The Bluffs, we want to help you with every step of the recovery journey. If you or someone you care about needs help, reach out to us today.