Dating Someone in Addiction Recovery: A Few Tips
Recovering individuals can be the most down-to-earth, wise, and mentally healthy people in the world, which makes them excellent people to date. Finding out that someone you are dating or considering dating is a recovering addict may evoke a variety of emotions and cause a number of questions to run through your mind. If you are not familiar with the disease of addiction, the life of a recovering addicts and what they are really like can seem clandestine. Being well-informed and well-equipped can increase your chances of a successful relationship. Here are a few tips.
There is still much stigma and many myths surrounding addiction in today’s society. Ignorance can kill your chances of having a successful relationship if you are entering the relationship with assumptions. The best sources of education are credible medical and psychology websites (e.g. Mayo Clinic, Partnership for Drug Free Kids, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Psychology Today, etc.). Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are support groups for family members and friends of alcoholics and addicts. Even though your partner is no longer active in addiction, attending a few meetings can provide insight on the disease. You can also sit in on an open AA or NA meeting.
Communication is the key to any relationship. People in recovery need to communicate their feelings to avoid negative feelings from building up inside of them, which can jeopardize their recovery. Communication is a two-way street. You should feel free to ask him or her questions about their addiction and recovery to understand it. However, do not make his or her addiction and recovery the center of most of your conversations. Being a recovering addict is only part of who he or she is; he or she has many other layers to them that are worth discovering. In order to avoid him or her developing unrealistic expectations, communicate your feelings to him or her about the relationship and your future as a couple.
Be Considerate of His or Her Recovery When Planning Activities
Recovering individuals, especially those who have not been in recovery for very long, cannot be around places where alcohol, drugs, gambling, promiscuity, and other questionable behavior is present. In addition, they may not be able to be around people, places, and things that are associated with their active addiction. When planning activities, be considerate about what he or she may not be able to do. When it doubt, communicate with them.
Even if they are not actively using, people in recovery can have the same defects of character as an actively using person. Examples include control, selfishness, jealousy, rage, abusiveness, etc. This behavior is often referred to as “dry drunks,” or “isms.” If controversy arises, be clear about what you will and will not tolerate. Relapse is always a possibility. The longer your partner is in recovery, the less likely he or she will relapse. In the event he or she does relapse or takes on a personality that is similar to an active user, you will need to put your needs, desires, and safety first.
Understand the Difference Between Selfishness and Putting His or Her Recovery First
Selfishness can be a part of the isms of the disease. However, there is a difference between being selfish and having to put his or her recovery first. They have a saying in the rooms that says, “We have to be selfish in our recovery.” In other words, his or her recovery and self-care must come first.
Understand His or Her Past is the Past
The lifestyle of addiction is often full of crime, deviant behavior, damaged relationships, and wild parties. Your partner may still be taking care of past legal issues and mending broken relationships. Understand those issues are only the residual of the past and have nothing to do with the present. You may hear stories from people about their behavior as an active user. Keep in mind that the active user is not the same person that you are dating. Your opinion from your experiences is what counts.