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The road to recovery is one that requires focus, time, and determination. During this journey of re-discovery, a person must be in the right mindset in order to yield successful results.
Despite popular beliefs, jumping into a romantic relationship in the early stages of recover might not be a healthy decision.
Many individuals on the road to sobriety assume that settling down and finding someone to share their happiness with while on their sober path is the next step, however, this can sometimes prove to be misguided.
In fact, most Alcoholics Anonymous groups will purposely assign same-sex sponsors to those in recovery, as romantic relationships are to be avoided during this time. Yes, it is possible for a romantic relationship to succeed when you are newly sober, however, studies show that most romantic relationships that occur within the first year of sobriety take a turn for the worse.
Why Do Relationships Fail During Recovery?
The main reason why romantic relationships fail during recovery is due to the vulnerability factor. Since sobriety is a new concept to most people, they have a lot of growing and learning to do during this time.
As someone in recovery develops healthy habits and coping mechanisms to fight off cravings and conquer addiction, it’s important to have plenty of space and room to grow. Jump starting a romantic relationship at this time will not provide the space needed to grow as an individual.
If love does come along and it is impossible to resist, it’s important to choose a partner that is also just as committed to recovery. When being serious about sobriety, it is imperative to not invite any outside influences in that may negatively impact recovery. Each emotional encounter during this time will be more difficult to handle, as most people are still finding their way within their new identity.
For those already in a relationship as they begin recovery, it may become more difficult to manage. A partner must be completely invested in sobriety and understand all the phases of recovery.
Most importantly, both people in the relationship must have sobriety as a top priority and understand the importance of walking away if anything affects the ability to continue on the path to a true self. Anyone that loves a person in recovery and has their best interests in mind will understand the importance of working on sobriety before working on a relationship.
Sometimes though, two people meet and the stars just happen to align and things begin to move in a more intimate direction. If it feels right and becomes inspirational, by all means explore the possibilities. If that happens, understand that there are some ways to ensure it continues in a positive direction.
Here Are 6 Tips For Cultivating a Positive Relationship During Recovery
These certainly aren’t the only suggestions for establishing a positive romantic relationship during recovery, but they are important ones to follow keep recovery on track.
1. Be Open About Recovery
Before entering into a new relationship, let the person you’re about to become involved with know that you are in recovery and working on personal issues. Depending on the person, it might not be a deal-breaker but it’s important for them to know that you’re committed to recovery, and also what is involved in that commitment.
2. Priortize Recovery
Recovery must always be your first priority, above any outside forces, and personal relationships or romance. You worked hard to get your life back to a good place and it takes dedication and perseverance to maintain it. The early stages of recovery after treatment are the most vulnerable, and most people are finding their footing. This is a time when relapse is most susceptible, so it’s important to keep a guard up and not get distracted.
3. Ease Into the Relationship
If a new relationship is meant to be in the long run, it will survive the immediate growth period needed to form a stable foundation. Like any relationship, it’s important to take it slow and let things grow naturally, instead of forcing something that you might not be ready for. Recovery requires time and effort, as do relationships. It isn’t fair to either person involved to rush things so that they become uncomfortable.
4. Be Honest
People with addiction problems usually have a history of denial and dishonesty. This isn’t a judgement, it’s a fact. One of the first steps of getting clean is being honest with oneself and honest with those around them. This must extend to the relationship in the beginning, and continue throughout. Don’t try to hide anything, especially the past. Being open and honest about emotions and feelings will not only help with recovery but it will make the relationship stronger over time.
5. Take Inventory of Past Relationships
Before jumping into a new relationship, take a look at what happened in past relationships, especially those that didn’t end well. Try to find patterns that may have lead to their demise and examine whether they can be avoided in the future. This is a necessary step for any person jumping into a new relationship, whether they are in recovery or not. For those in recovery, it is essential.
When things are going well, there are rarely any problems. But if the relationship becomes difficult to maintain, or recovery becomes too demanding, don’t hide it. Let the other person know how you’re feeling, whether it be good or bad. Good communication is paramount to any strong relationship and can strengthen it when things become difficult. Nobody is able to read minds and talking through struggles instead of hiding them will provide a base for making improvements.
Becoming romantically involved with another person during the early stages of recovery is often very difficult for both people. It isn’t impossible, but it’s advised to take things slowly and follow the suggestions outlined here.
Understand that relationships can be demanding, and recovery must be the first priority. If things take a turn in a negative direction, learn to read the signs and take a break to focus on recovery again. Keep relapse prevention strategies close by and don’t revert back to harmful tendencies if things become challenging.