After we have sobered up and have begun recovering from active addiction, we often begin to feel better. Not only have our bodies and minds begun to heal, but we have also started feeling some hopefulness and happiness—for some of us, for the first time in years. We begin to make new social connections, particularly among those with whom we are recovering in the twelve step rooms and at rehabilitation centers. All of these things are important and expected elements of our early recovery, but they can also make us want to even more greatly enhance our lives by getting into a relationship. Unfortunately, we have found that dating too early in our recovery nearly always ends in relapse.
The reason for this is relatively simple. In early recovery, we are just beginning to heal from a disease that practically destroyed us. For many of us, the consequences of living in active addiction for many years has not only ravaged our bodies but also stunted our emotional growth. Few of our personal or familial relationships survived unharmed during those tumultuous years. The romantic and sexual relationships in which we participated were often strongly characterized by disfunction and codependency.
Healing from this emotional wreckage doesn’t happen overnight. Indeed, it usually takes people many months or even several years before they are emotionally and psychologically stable enough to make healthy choices about relationship and sex partners. The problem with getting into a relationship too early is that we bring into it the same disfunction that haunted our relationships when we were active in our addiction. We naturally gravitate toward partners who are damaged as much or more than we are. When two damaged people attempt to form a relationship with each other, it rarely works. And if does somehow work, it will almost certainly contain the very elements of toxic codependency that were at the heart of our relationships when we were addicted.
It’s important to consider that if we choose to enter a relationship in early recovery, we threaten not only ourselves but the other person. If the other person is, like us, in recovery, we risk that person’s chances at continuous recovery just as we do our own. There is nothing in our twelve step recovery texts to suggest precisely when in our recovery getting into a relationship is a good idea. A good general rule many of us followed is to avoid dating someone who has less than a year of continuous recovery. Most of us would do well to follow this rule for ourselves, too. Relationships in recovery can be miraculous experiences, as long as we do not reach for them too soon.
If you are ready to start healing, reach out by calling Alta Loma Recovery at 866-457-3843. We can—and do—recover!
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson