Things You Need To Know Before Dating A Recovering Addict
The cruel irony about relationships is that, often, by the time people reach an age when they’ve learned a lot about themselves, about how to treat others, about what they want in a partner and what sort of partner they’d like to be, they’ve had some, well, experiences they can’t take back. If you’ve been out there dating for a while, you’ll start to realize that even the guys who seem perfect come with one caveat. It could be an enormous amount of debt due to a loan taken on a business that didn’t pan out. It could be divorce. It could be children. It could be that they’ve already had a vasectomy, deciding they never want children again. And one other thing you may find is a man who is wonderful but he is a recovering addict. Like most surprises, it can be worked with, but you need to know how. Here is what you should know before dating a recovering addict.
He should have been sober for a while
Some experts might recommend not dating someone until they’ve been sober for a full year. Others might say even waiting two to three years. Recovery is never easy, but it gets less difficult the more time passes that the person is sober.
He may have strained family relationships
Because of things this person did while he was using, he may have strained relationships with his family, friends, or other people he could have hurt.
You might hang out with a lot of addicts
It’s possible that the only friends this person has left are other recovering addicts, so you may suddenly find yourself surrounded by recovering addicts, and conversations about recovery.
Meetings are a big part of his life
You might be in the middle of a vacation with this person, and he’ll say he needs to find a local meeting. When he says this, he means it, and you need to do your best to comply, even it if isn’t convenient.
You may need to adjust your habits
You might need to give up drinking, smoking, or using other substances if you’re going to date a recovering addict. Some cannot be around these items. At all.
Relationships can be their new addiction
Recovering addicts often have codependent personalities and may throw themselves head-first into a relationship, as a form of a new addiction. While this can feel flattering and exciting, it’s important that you encourage your partner to maintain his independence, and that you do the same.
It’s up to them when they tell your network
You shouldn’t just tell everyone in your life, right away, that you’re dating a recovering addict. It’s up to him to decide when to tell him, in his time.
You can’t be ashamed of it, because they can’t be
You also cannot be ashamed of his recovery, or ask him to hide it from your friends and family. Being open about it is a crucial part of him treating it, so you need to be open about it, too.
Dating sober is a whole new thing
If you do have to refrain from drinking alcohol or using other substances in the presence of this person, then you’re going to experience a whole new thing: dating sober. You may learn that you used to rely a lot on alcohol to make dating fun or to form connections with people.
You need to have total trust
You need to trust this person or it will never work out. You cannot accuse him of relapsing because he simply doesn’t respond to a phone call for a couple of hours or isn’t available to see you for a few days.
But you also can’t let him blame his addiction
You also need to call your partner out if he blames recovery for being a bad partner. If he does go MIA or becomes uncommunicative, he has to own it—he can’t blame his situation.
You can’t judge what he did before recovery
The stories might be terrifying. If you ask to hear them, and you don’t like what you hear, you can’t become angry with him. He’s not that person anymore. He’s taking the steps to be somebody else.
Addiction is never over
Addiction cannot be cured. If you’re going to take on an addict, you have to know that this will be part of your new lifestyle—forever. That means the meetings, the other addicts, the need to avoid certain substances in his presence and more.
Recovery is hard during times of stress
Stress is hard on everybody, but it’s particularly difficult for recovering addicts. Not only are they dealing with the source of the stress, but they’re also battling their strong urge to relapse during that time.
He might still be finding parts of himself
The addiction took over his mind and personality for so long that he may still be finding parts of himself. He could be wanting to take classes, try out different religions, and do other things that denote someone who is finding himself.