If you have been clean and sober for a while, you may want to start dating as a recovering addict. Dating is tricky for everyone, but for recovering addicts there are a number of potential landmines. These range from how a person will react to learning about your history of addiction to the potential of ending up in triggering situations.
To help you in beginning healthy relationships, here is a quick guide to dating as a recovering addict.
What are you looking for?
Before you start dating as a recovering addict, you need to determine what you are looking for. Knowing the answer to this question will illuminate your path forward.
For example, if you are just looking for safe hookups or other kinds of fun, sharing your history with addiction may not be necessary. After all, if you never plan to see the person again, your history with addiction is unlikely to be relevant.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a serious relationship, you are going to need to prepare for the conversation.
Determining what you are looking for will also help you find safe places for dating in advance, where you won’t be exposed to your strongest triggers.
How much are you comfortable sharing?
Let’s say you are looking for a serious relationship. How much are you comfortable sharing with a potential partner right now? Ideally, you should not be starting any relationship on a dishonest foundation. If you are not ready to share your history with addiction, you will probably catch yourself in a lie sooner rather than later.
That is not to say you should share your entire history immediately. Everyone has their baggage that they don’t share on a first date. However, it is far better that you tell your date you are uncomfortable sharing certain details just yet than making up an alternative history.
Own your achievements
As a recovering addict, it is hard to start dating without feeling a fair amount of shame. People have a certain misperception of addiction. Some consider it a moral failing rather than an illness.
In order to be ready to start dating, you need to be able to own your achievements. You know just how much you have overcome to be sober today. When speaking with a date about your addiction history, remind yourself of this. Speak of the gratitude you have for your sobriety.
If they can’t see you for your achievements, then a relationship with them will never work. Yes, some people will have a learning curve, and will come to understand you even if they felt uncomfortable with your history at first. But anyone who dismisses your achievements from the outset is only going to bring you back into that toxic place of shame.
When you start dating as a recovering addict, you should take care to do what is best for yourself. If you still feel like you should be ashamed of your addiction, you’ve got some work to do before you will be ready to meet potential partners on an equal footing. And if a date dismisses your experience or makes you feel ashamed of it, you risk everything you have achieved by trying to make it work.