Should People Date in Early Sobriety?

Categories: Articles, Love and Relationships
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From the moment I decided to get sober, it seemed like everybody was telling me what to do. I welcomed the advice at first, especially while I was in rehab, because I didn’t know what I was doing. No attempt I ever made to get sober on my own was successful, so I kept my mouth shut and my ears open.

I wasn’t quite sure if all of the advice was right for me, though. For example, my counselor strongly recommended that I attend a 12-step meeting every single day for the first 90 days I was out. Really? And then what happens on the 91st day? Am I miraculously cured? It just seemed a little obsessive to me. What if I get dependent on the meetings? How was I going to learn to stand up on my own two sober feet?

Meanwhile, I was much more interested in meeting someone sober whom I could build a healthy relationship with, and I really didn’t fully understand why everyone was so against it. My rationale was that if we were both working toward a common goal of maintaining our sobriety, we would be good for each other. Besides, I wasn’t used to being alone. I started dating at 14, and when one relationship ended, another one was right around the corner. At 34, I didn’t know how to be single.

Time For Reflection

My sponsor explained that sobriety is an ongoing process and that in the early months we need to take some time to get to know our sober selves first, because without that knowledge, how could we ever find someone we could be compatible with?

So I took my mind on a trip back to when I met my very first boyfriend and asked myself what attracted me to him. I continued to ask myself that question about every other guy I got involved with, and a pattern soon emerged.

I was dating rebels with a cause, and that cause was protecting me.

As a victim of years of relentless bullying and a fear of standing up for myself due to a heart defect, I found myself being drawn to guys that made their own rules. Unfortunately, most of them abused alcohol and drugs, and an addict can’t live up to the ideals of Prince Charming.

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Understanding Codependency

While my insecurities, sadness, and loneliness led to my covering up those feelings with drugs and alcohol, those emotions also led me to become psychologically dependent on the men I dated. I started to understand that being dependent on relationships in order to be happy was just another addiction, and that addiction was just as dangerous as my addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Solid Sober Time

I realized I had to take enough time to develop strength through my sobriety, and that strength had to come from within me. Making someone else responsible for my happiness or self-esteem isn’t fair to anyone. This is how I gave myself that time:

  • My Sobriety Comes First – If you have any experience with the military, you know that it always comes first, even before your relationships. It’s the same with sobriety.
  • No Familiar Places – Meeting someone through work or meetings can threaten your sobriety if things don’t work out.
  • Be Honest – Your sobriety is who you are. Don’t try to hide it.
  • Don’t Make Your Partner Your Therapist – It is not their responsibility.

So take your time so you don’t replace one addiction with another. Remember, a healthy relationship is meant to enhance your life, not save it.

If you or your loved one is looking for addiction treatment options, please feel free to contact Anaheim Lighthouse, a modern and effective alcoholism treatment center in Southern California, help is here.

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