Dating Someone In Recovery: 3 Ultimate Pitfalls To Avoid

Are you dating someone in recovery thinking that you can be their savior by encouraging them to live a better life? Or even inspired by Macaulay Culkin ditching drugs and living his life again?

Before you think you could redirect your relationship towards betterment, let’s look at some of the pitfalls to avoid when dating someone in recovery.

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I’m Jasveena and I have been blogging since 2013, documenting my experience as well as helpful professional resources and tips I found online in seeking meaningful relationships and connections, and I am here to share them with you so that you are not alone in cruising through this journey called life that may seem like a lonely path.

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My Experience

Although I have no direct experience in dating someone in recovery, I have been in a relationship with someone who is addicted to alcohol and I knew what the process of trying to get out of the addiction looks like. It can be extremely hard to influence someone to stop the addiction and although they may seem to be trying very hard for us, at the end of the day, the motivation to change for us may not last long. 

Also, we should not regard people who have an addiction as a project to work on. We also cannot love someone based on empathy and the need to change their life for the betterment. At the end of the day, even if you were to empathize with someone, when it comes to relationships, your needs should be met (unmet expectations in dating can lead to issues) and when they are not met, you will be disappointed.

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State Of Mind Of People In Recovery

Dating someone in recovery can be challenging because of the state of mind these people have. From a lot of guilt and shame, people in recovery are not emotionally stable because they are very much affected by the past behavior of addiction. 

They are also trying to redefine their sense of self and trying to find new meanings that would help them to move on. It’s almost like trying to find the vocation of life and sticking to it because this new mission in life is going to keep them motivated.

Another part that we often don’t see enough in people who are struggling with recovery is how much they have been dependent on the substance to the extent that they may not be able to tell us directly how they are struggling because they are torn between wanting to save the relationship and making a promise to us and trying to find strength to overcome parts of the brain wiring that prompts them to fall back to the old patterns.

Why Dating Someone In Recovery Is Hard?

Dating someone in recovery is extremely hard sometimes because of the uncertainties in the relationship. 

  1. You Would Be Giving More Than Receiving

Most of the time, you will have to fork out 80% of the energy that is needed to sustain the relationship as opposed to the 50/50 that people used to think they would be able to expect in a relationship.

Because of this, the intensity of emotional labor that is required of you would take a toll on you.

  1. Potential For Relapse

Needless to say, when someone is in recovery, the potential for relapse can happen anytime and because of this, the relationship is very much uncertain and you may feel like your life is chaotic because you can’t quite predict how the future is going to turn out.

You’d always be anxious, expecting the worst to happen soon.

  1. Their Own Will Power Matters

Although we can be a source of motivation for people who are in recovery, dating someone and recovery does not mean that we can be a superhero in their lives and whatever we do would help them to cope with the recovery process and come out of it victoriously.

Sure, I think our motivation can be a source of light in their lives whereby they can feel better in their recovery process however their willpower matters the most because ultimately that is the one that would help them stop the addiction completely. 

In other words, there is always a risk when it comes to dating someone in recovery because you can never exactly tell how the outcome will pan out.

  1. Codependency

If they are dependent on you emotionally, you are not empowering them but you are creating a co-dependency relationship where they would be reliant on you on a lot of things moving forward.

It’s almost like a caretaker and a parent role that you are playing whereby a child would be very much dependent on its parents. This is the reason why people who are in recovery need to find their source of motivation to recover and not just for the sake of the relationship.

  1. Trust Issues

If you are continuing to feel anxious about life in general and you feel the urge to check on them now and then, this could lead to trust issues because you may not be trusting them enough to be able to recover from the addiction.

When Do You Know It Is Not Working For You?

So how and when do you know that it is not working for you and you may need to reevaluate your relationship with someone who’s going through a recovery process?

  1. You Are Emotionally Drained

If you find yourself emotionally drained and you cannot sustain positive energy for a long time, it may be an indication that you’re emotionally drained by taking care of them. 

It is normal for a couple to experience 80-20 energy exchange whereby sometimes we need to take the 80% load in a relationship. However, if this continues to happen all the time, you will feel that this is a project that you’re working on and not a relationship.

  1. It’s Hard To Make Plans With Him

If you think that it is hard to make plans with him, like you are not being able to predict his mood, and if he would follow through with plans that you make with him, it could be a sign that you need to pause for a bit and reevaluate your relationship with him.

  1. You Are Always Anxious

If you’re always anxious and very much stressed because of this relationship and you are experiencing negative energy and emotions all the time, this is also an indication for you to prioritize your own emotional and mental health first.

Hence, dating someone in recovery can be a challenging process and it all boils down to how much you can take and tolerate, whereby not many people would be able to tolerate inconsistency in a relationship for a long time.

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What is it like to date someone in recovery?

Potential relapse, poor mental health habits, and poor sleeping as well as eating habits can be something that people in recovery are struggling with. This makes dating someone in recovery extremely challenging at times. They are still in the process of redefining their lives and learning how to rewire their brain by incorporating more positive thoughts which can be challenging to learn.

Can you be in a relationship while in recovery?

For someone who is going through a recovery process, dating during recovery during the first year of sobriety is not recommended because they need to focus on their mental health and recovery process without being dependent on a romantic partner. They also need to learn how to be self-sufficient and find motivation on their own to recover from the addiction.

How long should you wait to date in recovery?

You should at least wait one year before dating if you are in the process of recovery because starting a new relationship means it’s a new commitment and one can find it really hard to have a lot of things to focus on at the same time. 

What to expect when your boyfriend comes out of rehab?

When your boyfriend comes out of rehab, it is critical to discuss family issues and responsibilities, because someone out of rehab needs a lot of free time and care from family members so that they do not succumb to relapse.

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