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A year. That’s how long they say you should wait after you get sober to start dating. But a year can feel so long, and it doesn’t always seem worth your while, but it is. Waiting a year before you start dating or opening yourself up to romantic relationships gives you the time you need to become strong in your recovery and doesn’t put you at risk for an unwarranted relapse.
Relapse romances, or those that happen right after, are very rarely healthy relationships. In early recovery, you still don’t have everything, if anything, figured out. And if the person you’re starting the relationship with is new to recovery too, well, neither one of you is in a good place to be getting involved with another person. You don’t have your own crap together yet, let alone someone else’s.
These types of relationships also tend to be quick and hot. They burn from both ends, and when there’s that much fire, someone’s bound to get hurt. That’s why so many of these early attempts at romance are linked to relapsing. You quickly fall head over heels in love, and then just like that, it’s over, and you’re left brokenhearted and lost.
Distracts You from Recovery
More so than putting you at risk of relapse from a broken heart, dating too soon after getting sober distracts you from recovery. Even if the person you’re dating has your best interests at heart, he or she’s not going to understand the need to be at a 12 step meeting seven days a week, the need for drug and alcohol intensive outpatient four days a week, and doing recovery retreats two weekends a month.
Your potential partner may start to resent your recovery attempts and those supports you have, and think that you spend too much time focused on it instead of the relationship.
Instead of getting distracted from your recovery, now is the time to embrace it. It’s a time of self-discovery, where you learn more about yourself than every before. Instead of taking the focuses from yourself, where it should be, you end up putting it on your partner, and don’t work on the things that you need to work on that will keep you clean and sober for years to come.
Start with a Plant
Although it sounds like a joke, the start with the plant philosophy is a good one to try. When you think you’re ready, when you’ve traveled far enough down the path of recovery that you feel like there’s solid ground beneath your feet, you can start with a plant. And if you take care of that plant, make sure it gets the water and sunshine it needs, and keep it alive for three months, then it’s time you can move on to bigger and brighter things. Like a goldfish. And if that goldfish survives for three months, and its water’s still clear, then and only then, can you even seriously consider starting to date in recovery.