Everyone deserves love and mutual support, whether or not they’re recovering from a substance use disorder. However, when it comes to intimate relationships, it’s important to understand that not everyone will be comfortable dating someone in recovery. That stance should be respected.
But if you’re in recovery, ready to start dating again, and willing to be honest about your recovery, you have every chance of meeting a supportive partner and building a healthy relationship. If you’ve graduated from our treatment program at St. Gregory, we can support you on your dating journey in our Recovery Coaching and Life Planning Program.
Tips For Telling A Partner You’re In Recovery
Jumping back into the dating world is an exciting, nerve-wracking step when embracing a sober lifestyle. You’ll have to manage your time, energy, and commitment to sobriety even as you’re learning how to navigate meeting new people and sharing your recovery story. To that end, we offer five pieces of advice for opening up about your recovery with a potential partner. The following tips center around some of our facility’s most treasured values: honesty, competency, and respect.
- Honesty is The Best Policy: The last thing you want is for the person you’d like to date to feel lied to or manipulated. There’s no shame in having overcome an addiction. In fact, there’s much pride to claim in sobriety. You can start by explaining to your date that you don’t drink or use substances. If they inquire further, you can share more about your recovery journey. It may take some practice to open up, but be confident in your story.
You might choose to explain that, for whatever reason you choose to disclose, you developed unhealthy coping habits. When you saw how your addiction was affecting you and those you love, you addressed the problem, sought help, overcame your issue, and are now living and striving toward well-being. You may want to share what you’re doing to maintain your recovery (participating in therapy, going to meetings, putting your health and wellness first, etc.).
- There’s No Need For Excuses: Expressing guilt or shame about your recovery isn’t necessary. Further, if you seem guilty or disappointed in yourself, it may set the tone for how your date sees you. Be firm about what kinds of situations and places trigger you, and suggest alternative plans. If your date reacts poorly or tries to convince you to do something you’re not comfortable doing, let that person go. Be patient with the process and wait to meet someone who will wholeheartedly support your sobriety. No excuses needed.
- Avoid Saying Sorry—You Haven’t Done Anything Wrong: Your recovery is an important aspect of who you are, your routine, and your conceptualization of yourself. Getting help for a difficult problem doesn’t require apologizing to a new acquaintance who never knew you when you suffered from substance abuse. If the person you’re opening up to expects some kind of apology, that’s a red flag. You’re making choices now that support your health and happiness, and you don’t need to apologize for a time in the past when you weren’t.
- Follow Your Gut, It’s Sober and Sharp: You can trust in yourself now. If you feel like the person you’re dating is more interested in “having fun” than in accommodating your sobriety, don’t hesitate to move on. If the person you’re dating is also in recovery but is demonstrating behaviors that suggest they’re heading toward relapse, encourage them to get help–and stop dating them. Your well-being comes first, and anyone who doesn’t understand that will put your sobriety in danger.
- Be You and Only You: Remember that you fought hard for the right to be exactly who you are without substances interfering. Your worth isn’t affected by your past mistakes. Respect yourself and your journey. Feel pride in expressing who you authentically are. Your future partner will love you all the more for it.
Learn More About Dating Post-Recovery with St. Gregory Recovery Center
We’re always here to support your sober, healthy dating life. If you’re struggling with substance use or relapse and need professional support, contact us today. At each of our facilities in Iowa, you and your freedom from substances come first.