Now that summer is here, you may be thinking about exploring new avenues in your life. Maybe you’re ready to start going out more or reconnect with certain friends. Perhaps it’s time to start a new workout class or look for a part-time job. As you move further along in your recovery, you have to continually assess where you’re at and how you can grow.
It can be scary to extend yourself further into the real world, but you will have to do these things at one point or another. Taking things slowly, knowing your limitations and keeping your support network within reach are the most helpful things you can do.
As the time for summer fun and romance creeps up, you may be wondering if it’s okay to start dating again. Relationships and addiction don’t mix, as you are probably very well aware. You may have been in relationships during your addiction, or you may have spent much of your time single. But now that you are clean, it’s natural to want a partner to share in your life. At the same time, you have to be ready for this commitment and all the ups and downs that come with it. Relationships are not easy.
Signs You May be Ready to Start Dating
Deciding when to start dating again is a very personal decision. At The RS, we strongly recommend waiting to date until you have reached a point in your recovery where you love yourself. This generally comes after working with a counselor to better understand yourself and identify your strengths and weaknesses.
If you had past turmoil in your life such as childhood abuse or neglect, you also need to come to terms with this and accept it. Letting these feelings affect you in the present means you are not completely healed from them. You must also be at a point in your recovery where you are learning to forgive yourself and others. If you haven’t forgiven your parents for neglecting you, it’s going to be very difficult to trust someone new.
None of this is easy, and it takes extreme patience and diligence. However, it’s best to be in a happy place before you take on any new relationship. If you rush into things, you’ll end up having to divide your time between the relationship and getting better, and past problems are likely to affect the dynamics.
Get Feedback from Friends and Family
It’s recommended that you talk to your therapist and those in your self-help groups to determine if you are ready to start dating. Though it’s a personal decision, others that know you can offer guidance in this department. Your therapist may feel that you have more to work on, but dating is something that is in the near future. Your friends may also see this potential in the near future. But it’s also possible that they will tell you that further growth is necessary.
If your therapist and friends feel that you are ready to start dating, and you feel comfortable in exploring a new relationship, then it doesn’t hurt to get back out there. It’s normal to feel vulnerable or closed off, and this is okay. You need to protect yourself and your recovery, so be cautious about who you let into your life. Much of this starts with finding people in the right places.
Where to Meet People
One of the best ways to meet someone is online. You can choose any of the popular dating websites such as eHarmony or Match.com, but you may find a more comfortable experience through a dating site that is designed for recovering addicts. Great sites to check out include recoverydate.com, 12stepmatch.com, and loveinrecovery.com.
The nice thing about joining these sites is that you don’t have to do any awkward explaining or worry about someone judging you for your addiction. It’s one less secret to keep, and you can find someone who is equally committed to their own recovery. Together, you can find sober ways to spend your time, rather than meeting someone who prefers going to parties and clubs.
Another way to meet someone is through good old fashioned connections. And, this could be a better circumstance considering that dating another addict can put you at greater risk for relapse. Ask friends and family if they know of anyone. They can be just as good at screening people as any internet service.
Even if your friends and family can’t think of anyone specific, encourage them to invite you out so that you can meet people. You never know who you will connect with, and your trusted support network will ensure that the friends they invite along are supportive, positive people.
You can also join groups that will lead you to the right people. What types of volunteer opportunities are in your area? What activities are offered at the park district or library? Have you considered going on a weekend retreat to connect with others from your church or community? These are all great ways to connect with people and start building new relationships, setting yourself up for meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right one day.