Monday May 1st 2017

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Valentine’s Day dating in early addiction recovery

Dangers of dating in early recovery

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Love. Romance. Getting swept off your feet.

However, this season we’d like to remind you that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. In early recovery, it is important to learn to love yourself first, before you think about being with anyone else.

Are you in the early stages of addiction recovery this Valentine’s Day? Is it too early to start dating? Continue reading this article to get a few perspectives for navigating the 14th of February. Then, we invite you to post your questions in the designated section at the end of the page. In fact, we try to respond personally and promptly to anyone going through the ups and downs of early recovery!

Valentine’s Day: Are you loving yourself first?

Being alone on the 14th of February can be joyous. In fact, working on your recovery can be the most wonderful time in your life… so take advantage of it! Most of us in long term recovery agree: The first year(s) of your addiction recovery is the time to get to know:

  1. Who are you as a person (without mind or mood altering substances).
  2. What you like in relationship.
  3. What you dislike in relationship.
  4. What you ultimately want in a partner.

It is also important to decipher what your value system is and what your short and long term goals are. If you get into a relationship before these things happen, you could potentially end up with the wrong person. Or, if you start out with someone and change halfway through and grow, that person might not change and grow with you… which could be the end of a relationship.

Is dating too early worth your sobriety?

The perils of getting in to a relationship before you have over a year sober, or before you really get to know yourself include a lot of different situations.

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Let’s review a hypothetical (but potentially very realistic) situation:

You might start dating someone after you getting sober just so you don’t feel lonely. That person is not right for you, but just because you don’t want to be alone, you start hanging out with them all the time. Before you know it you lose yourself and are riding on the highway to relapse. This could also be potentially harmful because that person could become abusive emotionally or physically…and if you do not have to voice to speak up for what you believe in or leave that person, you will be stuck in a very volatile relationship.

Relapse occurs in many of these situations, whether your significant other is using drugs, or you both relapse together because you don’t have a solid foundation in sobriety. If you are not secure with yourself and your sobriety, you may start skipping 12 Step support group meetings to be with that person, cancelling on your sponsor, and worst of all not holding a job in fear of losing your partner because of jealousy or fear of missing out.

Speaking from experience: Wait before you date

Personally, getting to know myself was the best thing that ever happened to me. I did not date for over 9 months, and when I started dating… even that was too early. My first breakup almost caused a relapse. I took it very personally and did not have enough of a life established on my own to feel worth much, so it felt like my world was crashing down.

Thank God I did have a firm foundation of sobriety, I had many friends surrounding me and went to meetings everyday to feel less alone. I then realized I couldn’t be okay with myself until I learned how to be alone, not lonely…just alone. I applied some suggestions, and it worked! You just need patience.

How can I learn to love myself?

There are many things you can apply to learning to love yourself. In fact, there are many activities you can do to get to know yourself better, and to find out what you really want from life. If you fail to do this, you may have many dangers waiting ahead of you such as:

  • Consequences of low self-esteem
  • Relapse
  • Co-dependency
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Unhappiness

Here are a few suggestions to get you started on the path to prioritizing and loving yourself.

1. Identify past behaviors and learn how to avoid them. You can go to therapy to learn more about how your childhood experiences affected your actions and fix those for the better. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) and Behavioral Therapy are recommended for at least one year after your sate of abstinence and can help in the years to come! Learning coping skills and changing values, expectations, and beliefs goes A LONG WAY to self-acceptance.

2. Identify role models. A top notch suggestion of mine is always to hang out with people of the same sex, who already know who they are so you can learn from them, and aspire to become something similar.

3. Pursue real interests. You can take a college course or some sort of class such as art or dance, to reconnect with what you once wanted to do before drugs or alcohol got in the way.

4. Stick with the winners in life. Keep people around you who uplift you and who are honest with you. Positive attracts positive, so focus on what you WANT in relationship. Hang out with others who are on this same vibe and watch how your world changes as a result.

How do set goals for my sobriety?

To develop short and long term goals you can work with:

  • a life coach
  • a sponsor
  • a therapist
  • a friend with a year or more sober

Furthermore, there are all types of quizzes you can take online to determine what learning styles you have, what career paths are good for you, and even what personality type you have and how the fits into work and relationships in your life. To establish a value system you just get a pen and paper or write this in your phone. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do you like saving or spending money?
  • Is being religious or spiritual matter to you?
  • Does family play a big part in your life?
  • Do you need to spend a lot of time with your partner, or are you OK with separation?
  • Do you need constant reassurance, are you an introvert?

These are just some things that will help decipher what kind of partner you are looking for and what your needs are. I wish you all luck in finding your true love, but this Valentine’s Day the most important thing is to LOVE YOURSELF.

Valentine’s Day in recovery questions

Will you be dating this Valentine’s Day? If you have any questions that are bothering you, or if you are looking for sober Valentine’s Day date tips, you can count on us to help!

Simply post your questions in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to answer personally and promptly to all legitimate enquiries. In case we don’t know the answer to your question, we’ll gladly refer you to someone who can.

Photo credit: jessicahtam

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About Dana Kippel

Dana Kippel is a Client Advocate for Oceans Medical Centers driven by passion and experience. She has dedicated her life to helping others who struggle with Substance Abuse and Mental Health issues. Dana is inspired by her interactions with others, multimedia, reading, and seeing others succeed.

Trusted Helpline
Help Available 24/7
1-888-882-1456
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