Sober or not, everyone deserves a shot at love, and just because you’re in recovery doesn’t mean you can’t find someone special. Still, being in recovery does put a different spin on things. Whether you’re looking for Mr./Mrs. Right or for Mr./Mrs. Right Now, approaching the dating game is going to be decidedly different this time around. Your recovery will make parts of it harder–it may even keep you from getting ahead with someone you like, it’s true–but no matter who you are, there is someone out there for you who will respect and support you and the values you hold.
Still, dating can be hard enough before you add recovery into the mix. The prospect of bringing up your sobriety on a first date can be enough to put some people off on a shaky start, right off the bat. Like it or not, your sobriety does affect your dating life. Since television has taught us that it’s easy to meet people in bars (“Can I buy you a drink?”) and even easier to kick-start a night of romance (or something similar) by sharing a bottle of wine, you’re going to have to be proactive in setting your terms.
Let the Cat Out of the Bag
When you start seeing someone new, at some point you know you’re going to have to bring up the fact that you’re in recovery. This can be a sensitive topic to broach depending on how easily conversation has been flowing so far, and there’s no one right time or way to do it. It tends to be helpful to find a way to have that conversation early on in a budding relationship–you don’t want to get too far into dating somebody before realizing that they’re a borderline alcoholic, are intolerant of your recovery, or like to go to wild parties four nights a week.
The initial stage of dating largely consists of sussing one another out. Don’t be afraid to bring up your recovery the same way you’d bring up an allergy or a personal set of values. You don’t have to go full fire-and-brimstone with the darkest parts of your recovery story just yet, if you don’t want to. Most of the time, though, people will appreciate your honesty, respect your commitment, and admire you for sharing a personal story of trials and growth. It may even endear you to them.
Deciding Where to Draw Your Lines
It’s not set in stone that if you’re sober, you have to date someone sober. Plenty of people have made relationships work built on compromise and mutual respect. However, it is imperative that you are absolutely clear and firm about your boundaries with regards to your recovery. If you’re dating someone who drinks or uses drugs recreationally, decide for yourself what you are and are not comfortable with. Maybe you’re okay with your partner drinking at home but don’t want to spend time at parties with many people getting drunk. Maybe you’re okay with your partner smoking marijuana every once in a while, but cocaine use would be too much for you to be around.
Know yourself. Set boundaries, explain them clearly, and stick to them. Things may take some getting used to at first, but with understanding and effort on your side, you can be able to build a healthy, functional relationship that lets you both meet your needs. On the other hand, don’t let anyone pressure you into compromising on the values that you hold important. Anyone unwilling to respect your boundaries is not somebody you want to be investing your time into.
Explore Resources for Sober Dating Compatibility
It’s also worth considering your options for intentional sober dating and finding ways to date people who are sober themselves. Your peers and staff at 12-Step programs, recovery centers, and treatment programs can likely point you in the direction of sober meetup groups and even sober dating pools.
The internet has made it easier than ever to narrow down your prospects according to your recovery needs. Even if you’re not looking for someone else in recovery, you can filter search results on many dating sites by drug and alcohol usage. Match.com, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, and more dating sites all allow users to search based on compatibility in substance use or lack thereof. You can even search for sober people. Make sure you explore all your options–you never know where you might find your next sparks of romance!
Whether you’re looking for your next big relationship or just want to meet people, don’t be surprised if some parts of your new life take some getting used to. Using the things you’ve learned in treatment is the next step in redesigning your life. Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or your recovery peers or sponsor when it comes to finding your way in social situations now that you’re sober. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we know that recovery doesn’t end at detox. We’re here to provide support, guidance, and resources for you as you navigate the rest of your new life in sobriety. There’s love for you out there, no matter who you are or what your circumstances. It may seem like a steep hill to climb, but with your determination, persistence, and use of the resources available to you, nothing is impossible. Call 866-DETOX-25 to learn more.