February 7, 2014
Romantic relationships are often filled with challenges, and the road to that perfect union can be filled with many twists and turns. During the dating phase, we all have some parameters of what they consider “deal-breakers” which are those issues and revelations that would end that particular relationship. One of those potential deal breakers that can bring a union to an end is if the person that you are dating is in recovery from substance abuse. For those who are dating a recovering drug addict, it can be quite a shock and it may lead to deeper thought as to where the relationship may head.
It goes without saying that your partner has probably led a lifestyle that seems vastly different from the one they are currently living with you. While some people can easily relate to and embrace the fact that everyone as a past, there may be others who may have difficulty in trying to reconcile the two as the relationship moves forward. If you have decided to move forward with the relationship, there are things that you need to know as far as the do’s and dont’s of dating someone who is in recovery.
What Should You Do When Dating Someone in Recovery
When you are dating someone who is in recovery, the first thing that you need to know if they are actively working a program and have at least one year of sobriety under their belt. Recovering people can be some of the most healthy people that you will meet, but it takes a lot of hard work in order to get to that point. You need to know that your partner is being proactive in their recovery and has a healthy balance of activities in their life that support their sobriety.
Secondly, you need to be accepting of your partner’s past baggage and you need to be truthful to your partner about how much of that baggage you are able to tolerate. Addiction can bring many consequences including legal problems, considerable debt and dysfunctional family relationships. These are all issues that need to be discussed at some point during your relationship. As your partner progresses through their recovery, you have to find ways to be supportive as they work through their various issues if you are committed to the relationship long-term. If their baggage is too much to handle, you must be upfront and honest.
You also need to be supportive of your partner’s commitment to their recovery. A huge part in that support is avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol around them, and it is also a good idea to attend meetings and support groups with your partner. Support does not mean being a babysitter or protector. The one thing they do want, however, is to know they have your support and encouragement.
Lastly–and perhaps most importantly–you need to know that while your relationship is important, you cannot neglect yourself and your needs. Your partner is going to recovery meetings, attending regular therapy sessions and engaging in productive activities that are allowing them to mature and grow into their recovery–you need to do the same. You do not want to slip into the role of being a caregiver or enabler in the relationship.
What You Shouldn’t Do When Dating Someone in Recovery
When you are in a relationship with someone who is recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, there are some things you must avoid. First and foremost, you must avoid trying to rescue or enable your partner. Ultimately, you are not responsible for your partner’s recovery. Your partner must take complete responsibility in taking the necessary steps to become healthy and fulfilled by attending meetings, volunteering and practicing healthier coping strategies. As much as you want to, you simply aren’t able to control your partner or able to fix the causes of their suffering. The only thing that you can do is continue to encourage them to work a program of recovery and offer support when they need support.
Another important step that you need to take when dating someone in recovery is to be judgmental and question their every move. Most recovering addicts work very hard to move past their troubled pasts, and this is extremely important in rebuilding self-esteem and trust. However, if you constantly question them about their whereabouts or go out of your way to keep tabs on them, your relationship will eventually fall apart. Your partner 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.
Lastly, you must avoid ignoring the signs of a possible relapse. While you may not want to think about it, relapse is common in recovery and it is estimated that between 40 to 60 percent of people in recovery will relapse at some point during their sobriety. It is important for you to educate yourself about the complex nature of addiction, and if you notice signs of relapse in your partner it is important to help guide them towards the help they need. Even if a relapse isn’t immediately evident, giving your partner the encouragement and support to address the attitudes and behaviors that may lead to a slip will help them continue on the path towards long-term recovery.
Do You Need More Information On How To Have A Healthy Relationship With Someone In Recovery?
Dating someone who is recovery can present a unique set of challenges, but with the right information and support you and your partner can live a healthy and happy life. In addition to our quality drug and alcohol treatment programs, Ocean Breeze Recovery Center offers family and relationship therapy programs that can help you better understand the unique needs of your partner as they continue the process of strengthening their recovery. Call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center toll-free today and help your partner and your relationship grow and flourish in their recovery.