Dating in recovery can be fun. Trust me, I know. When I first got sober, I thought I would be single for the rest of my life. Who would want to date an alcoholic? Who would accept me when I couldn’t even accept myself?
Fortunately, the process of recovery is all about learning and change. Challenges that I thought insurmountable at one stage in my sobriety become easy and fun in another. I no longer panic at the idea that I can’t get married because I’ll be the only one without a glass of champagne in my hand. I can honestly say that I have a great time at any event, especially because I’m not drinking. The same is true for my dating.
Tips for dating while sober
Don’t rush into dating. I don’t need to tell you how confusing dating can be, even under the best of circumstances. So adding that confusion to the emotional roller coaster of learning to live life sober could be dangerous if you’re not ready. I waited a year, not because I’m smart, but because I felt too crazy to even consider dating someone else. When I was ready, it happened naturally.
Take It Easy
If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. No reason to force yourself into uncomfortable situations. If you’re feeling pressured from yourself or others, take a deep breath and a step back. Sobriety has to come first. It’s humbling for me to remember that, but it’s true. Without my sobriety, I am not someone who has the confidence to date, much less be a person that a functional, healthy adult would want to spend time with. Put your sobriety first before romance.
Share Only What You Want
No need to disclose your drinking or drug abuse to everyone you meet. It’s your information and your right to share (or not) with whom you choose. When I first started dating again, I was so uncomfortable talking about my recovery. It took me a good two years before I was able let go of the shame I carried around my alcoholism. Now my recovery is something that brings me joy, rather than a dark secret I hide. Be patient with yourself. A line that worked well for me when someone would ask why I didn’t drink was, “I used to drink, and it was a lot of fun, but then it wasn’t fun anymore so I stopped.” Simple, honest, and it still maintained my privacy.
Be Honest With Yourself
If you’re not ready to start dating, don’t. Talk with your sponsor, your sober friends, and recovery professionals. Seriously, a hot date is NOT worth losing your cool or your sobriety over. When you are ready, choose your dates and locations wisely. Your old dive bar is probably not a good idea. Try meeting for a cup tea in the evening at a coffee shop with a lovely outdoor patio.
That’s the awesome part of being a sober person. You get to make choices you are proud of and spend time with people where mutual respect is involved. I was in some crazy relationships because I didn’t think I deserved better, or because the person was willing to enable my alcoholic ways. You’re a person of integrity now, and dating is one more fun adventure for you to explore, learn from, and grasp the most out of life!