Dating these days is tough. You’ve likely gone on several dates – some awkward and some downright terrible. Then you meet “the one”. They are kind, thoughtful, funny and responsible. After a few dates, you’re on cloud nine, and can’t wait until your next date. During your next date, the conversation opens up more and you learn “the one” is a former/recovering addict. While the news of your suitor’s past may not be appealing to some, you can’t help but wonder, is it possible for someone who has never faced addiction to date someone in recovery?

Deciding to enter into a committed relationship with someone is not a decision to make lightly, especially if that someone is in recovery. However, someone’s past problems with drugs or alcohol shouldn’t automatically scare you away. In fact, dating someone in recovery means you’re choosing to be with someone who has spent a lot of time working on themselves and their relationships. Here are some dos and don’ts of dating someone in recovery:

  • Where are they on their road to recovery?
    • Before entering into a relationship with someone who is a former/recovering addict, it’s important to know where they are in their recovery. It’s important that the person in recovery has at least one year of sobriety under their belt. This is because the first year of recovery is designed for the former addict to learn what it’s like to live without using substances, how to take care of themselves and how to find enjoyment in other areas of their life.
  • Be accepting of baggage
    • Everyone has some form of baggage since we all have a past. Addiction is notorious for leaving behind some serious baggage that most of us are not used to working with. If you decide to move forward with dating someone in recovery, you need to accept the baggage this person may be carrying with them without judgement. When someone has a past of active addiction, they have likely accrued debt, have legal problems and may have damaged relationships with family members. If this seems like too much for you to accept, you may want to reconsider moving forward with the relationship.
  • Don’t be judgmental
    • People who are in recovery have gone through great lengths and growth to move past their checkered past. This has given the person in recovery the ability to rebuild self-esteem and trust. Constantly questioning your partner about their whereabouts or going out of your way to keep tabs on the person, will eventually lead the partner to resent you. Unless you see clear warning signs that your partner is slipping up, you must maintain trust and let unjustified suspicions go.
  • Show support
    • Depending on where your partner is within their recovery, it goes without saying to avoid drinking or using drugs around them during the early stages. Loving someone in recovery means that your date or dinner plans will need to be worked around group meetings or support groups. If this sounds like too much to accept, then you may need to reconsider dating someone in recovery.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated
    • When a person is in active addiction, they become masters of manipulation and convincing others that their addiction is not a problem and they do not need help. While many addicts are able to discontinue this behavior after they’ve gone through treatment, some hold on to these behaviors into their post-addiction relationships. Someone in recovery should give you the same level of respect that you’d expect from anyone else you’d consider dating.

The dating scene in recovery can seem like you’re navigating treacherous waters, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you do happen to find yourself developing feelings for someone that is in recovery, don’t immediately assume that a relationship is doomed before the start. Instead, assess the points mentioned above. Like all relationships, you’ll have your ups and downs, but dating someone in recovery can bring a whole new perspective to your life – one that you may have never scene if you weren’t willing to open up and take a chance.

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