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Old 12-04-2011, 08:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Dating Within The First Year of Recovery

I know all of the AA Rules and Suggestions. I've been in and out of the program for quite a while. I personally never agreed with some of the rules and suggestions. The biggest one was that you shouldn't date for your first year of sobriety. The way I see it is that you can't stop living life. Dating and relationships are a part of life. I know this is only my opinion but I feel pretty strongly about it. Just because you're sober doesn't mean a relative won't pass away in the first year or that you won't lose your job in the first year. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I didn't date in my first year, I needed some time to work on myself. I just went out on my first date about 2 weeks ago and it was great. Looking back, I was sort of following that rule, but I should have done it much sooner. I think it depends on the person and how you are doing in your recovery.

If you're feeling good and confident in yourself and you think you're ready then go for it. One thing I'll say is that be ready for some emotions you haven't felt in a while sober. I was totally wired after going out on my date and I felt a lot of old stuff come up afterwards. I got through it with help from here, but it was the first time in a long time I felt like drinking for some reason. I didn't drink and it made me stronger and more confident in the end, but it was the first time I dealt with some of those emotions sober in 20 years and it was a little hard to handle at first.
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm not in AA, but was, for nearly a decade.

Like many things in AA, the admonition not to date or make major changes in the first year is based on something that makes sense: the idea that in early recovery folks are still whirling around and need to take some time for themselves to regroup. But it does ignore the fact that life still happens, and can't be ignored on the basis that one is in one's first year of recovery. Death, job loss, etc. must be dealt with. Also, marriages, existing committed relationships, and children can't just be shelved for a more convenient time.

At the same time, though, I think that getting into a NEW relationship is probably not the best idea in the first year or so after one quits an addiction....or even longer. In fact, as someone who quit drinking a long time ago, my own "rule" when dating was not to date a formerly addicted person unless that person had been comfortably abstinent for at least five years.
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Someone's gotta be the first to say it, so I guess it might as well be me: AA doesn't have a rule about dating. Not dating within the first year is mentioned nowhere in the big book.

You can do whatever you want. Keep in mind that most recovering alcoholics are pretty messed up emotionally in early recovery, so whoever you are dating is getting a real an of worms. I tend to think you're also shortchanging yourself and not giving yourself time to heal. That may take one year or two years or six months.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Jay - Admittedly, I'm a prude on this.

As a matter of common sense, I would counsel most any alcoholic to not pursue romatic relationships for at least year.

Likewise, I would strongly advise most any normie to not take up with someone who is less than a few years sober.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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AA does not suggest or recommend that any member place any aspect of their lives on hold for any predetermined amount of time or for any reason.
It's a lie that comes from people that feel an overwhelming need to say something but haven't read the book or followed the program.
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Old 12-04-2011, 10:00 AM   #7 (permalink)
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It is not from AA. The actual 'caution' that this idea evolved from, came from some early 'rehabs' where it was SUGGESTED:

"No 'MAJOR CHANGES' in ones first year of sobriety unless something was affecting that person's sobriety."

ie

No job changes, unless the job was making it really hard to stay sober.

No moving from one resident to another, unless the current living arrangements were putting sobriety into jeoparady.

No leaving a relationship the first year.

No getting into a new relationship the first year.

Old Timer AA's of the that era heard this and saw the common sense in the phrase and started using it:

"No 'MAJOR CHANGES' in the first year of sobriety."

Somehow most of that has been lost to NO DATING or NO RELATIONSHIPS the first year.

I M H O the reality is that the first year IS EXTREMELY HARD on most of those serious about recovery, and diverting one's concentration, or diluting one's concentration with all the potholes of dating, and/or a new relationship divert us from working on ourselves.

Now you sound like the majority of those I have worked with, still 'wanting to rebel in some way' lol and will end up doing what you want to do, lol Think about it some more please. Give yourself a break, concentrate on your recovery, then see if you are ready to 'date.'

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Old 12-04-2011, 10:15 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I will agree... You apparently don't know this, but AA has No Rules. You can't possibly know ALL of the suggestions as they are only another person's opinions. AA has Steps, Traditions, and Concepts.

Keep coming back!

The big book actually advocates having a well rounded life.
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Old 12-04-2011, 10:18 AM   #9 (permalink)
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All this "rule" means is that you need some time to figure yourself out (the new, sober you) before you take on the added challenge of a new relationship. Of course life still goes on, you may suffer from unexpected events and tragedies and have to deal with them. But dating is an event that you choose for yourself, not one forced on you like losing a job, death/illness of a loved one, etc. Why would you want to make things harder for yourself deliberately?

I don't think that there's anything magic about 365 days. Maybe one person is ready to start dating after 4 months, and another in 5 years, it all depends on the person.

I have almost a week sober. I don't think I'm going to date anytime soon. It would be too stressful for me, and it would be unfair to my date if I was unable to manage my emotions/stress of early sobriety and took it out on them.

Maybe you want to date because you are lonely and feel dating may help you, and maybe even help you stay sober. I have felt like this too before. I just think it is unfair to use an "innocent bystander" (a date) to deal with my feelings of loneliness and stress. There are other options that are much better:
-friend that knows about your situation
-family member
-therapist
-AA/NA or other support groups
-posting on SR
-volunteering
-professional relationships with co-workers

Now I have not heard of this "no dating for a year" rule before so I don't have anything to say about who invented it or whether it is truly part of AA or not. I think there is some wisdom to this rule/suggestion no matter where it came from, but I would not take the "one year" part literally, that's just my opinion.
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Old 12-04-2011, 10:21 AM   #10 (permalink)
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If the idea of a year without dating causes anxiety or seems impossible...then you might have other issues.

I think the idea of not pursuing relationships or new careers or moving to a new state or even going back to school in the first year of recovery is a good one. Yes, as you point out things do come up. But that is all the more reason to keep everything else as stable as you can.
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Old 12-04-2011, 10:43 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1980 View Post
I know all of the AA Rules and Suggestions. I've been in and out of the program for quite a while. I personally never agreed with some of the rules and suggestions. The biggest one was that you shouldn't date for your first year of sobriety. The way I see it is that you can't stop living life. Dating and relationships are a part of life. I know this is only my opinion but I feel pretty strongly about it. Just because you're sober doesn't mean a relative won't pass away in the first year or that you won't lose your job in the first year. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
Hey Jay,

Those sayings may be around AA and whatever, but they did not originate from within AA. Those sayings and "rules" come from rehabs and detox centers and whatever else, but not from AA.

For myself, I don't agree with those sayings either, but at the same time, I don't agree that anything comes before doing and living a recovery program of some kind, you know?

For me, I started with AA, did a supervised 30 day detox, and a 2 month rehab stay. My experience with dating was I dated every chance i could while getting sober. As a matter of fact, I got booted out for a night because I not only missed curfew, but I had some sex on this particular date too.

I slept outside, in the rehab's garage. Not a big deal for me, I'd slept outside in worse conditions, besides, I was sober, and feeling pretty good about my date that night.

I was always in trouble one way or another in early sobriety on my dating behaviors. I was constantly told I was gonna get drunk, and I was only fooling myself, etc. My dates were the least of my problems, lol. It was more the rocking-of-the-boat that my behaviors were causing others, lol.

Well, I never did get drunk, and as for fooling myself, I don't regret a single date I went on. And to be clear, some of those dates, alot of them, were just one night stands, or otherwise in a relationship for just some simple human comfort, love, and yes, sex too.

The thing is, I never put myself and my selfish desires before the program of my recovery. At the same time, I didn't lie to myself about what I really wanted to both give and receive in those past relationships. I was upfront and honest, and i didn't have secrets. It was very plain to all who knew me (or of me) what and who I was during (doing) those early years. It was something I was not ever ashamed of, and I always enjoyed when somebody thought they had one on me by talking about my behaviors, it only made things easier for me, you know? I had nothing to hide.

You know, its really about being true to yourself, your sobriety, your understanding of spirituality, your love for others, morality, ethics, etc.

Sobriety is to be a lived experience, not something we are supposed to model and show off, and then sell ourselves on, and then attempt to live. We live by real-life experience, and that includes dating and relationships.

Cheers!
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Old 12-04-2011, 01:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm glad I waited.

I was pretty much a mess when I stopped drinking - I changed daily.

I'm glad I didn't inflict myself on anyone else until I reached a point where I was constant, I was calm, and I knew who sober me actually was.

It didn't actually take me a year, but I'm still glad I took the time to learn to love myself first before I expected anyone else to do the same

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Old 12-04-2011, 03:05 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I didn't lie to myself about what I really wanted to both give and receive in those past relationships. I was upfront and honest, and i didn't have secrets.
I'm the same way. All my friends, all my family members and any females I may pursue a relationship with know my entire situation. I put everything out there on the table 'cause I don't want to waste their time or mine.

And I know that this isn't a "rule" but just a suggestion. I've talked with countless people in AA and most say that it is a good idea but that the majority of people don't usually make it a full year.
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Old 12-04-2011, 04:22 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I know all of the AA Rules and Suggestions.
Not an AA rule/suggestion. Same with the whole "make no big changes in the first year" garbage. Seems to directly fly in the face of the third step question "God is either everything, or god is nothing, what is your choice to be." That seems like a big decision, big change if you will, that I made... same with giving up on alcohol... These steps lead me to a god that revolutionizes my life. There is no timestamp on this.

My experience has been, if you feel ready to date then date. Just make sure you are in a position to actually contribute something meaningful to the relationship. For some people this happens days or weeks after walking in because they ger through the work quickly, for others they drag their feet and fight the process and may not be able to have a healthy relationship even after that 365th day.
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Old 12-04-2011, 05:46 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I did not have success in 12-step programs so maybe my perspective is different--but it does seem to me if you really want to be clean, then you are willing to try ANYTHING. If you want to find loopholes and reasons to avoid certain tactics, then maybe that points out where a real underlying problem is.

Going without a relationship for a year is pretty common, so it is not as central to life as eating or breathing. But I have encountered many people in recovery for whom being alone is difficult. Maybe this is just another aspect of the addiction.

Admittedly, I am not in a 12-step program, so I may be too willing to grab onto ANY idea that can help. But I think this is a good one--even if you are in the fellowship.
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:44 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I know all of the AA Rules and Suggestions. I've been in and out of the program for quite a while. I personally never agreed with some of the rules and suggestions.
It's funny that you say that...I hear that a lot from people that have been in and out of the program for years. I haven't been in AA for a year yet...Almost half....I'm not really in a hurry to get in a relationship right now. Whether it's a rule or not. This isn't a game for me. I'm kind of doing this to save my life. When I get my own life in order...I'll put some effort into someone elses..
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Old 02-23-2014, 09:14 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Issue

I have been with my now boyfriend for three years. When I first started dating him he was only three months sober. I though being brought up in an environment with addicts (my brother and father) was too naive to realize that this was not enough time clean. Anyway now three years and many relapses into our relationship he told me he can't date me for along time bc he needs to work on himself. This hurts so much and I am feeling rejected especially bc he is all or nothing toward our relationship much like he is with all things. Can someone possibly give me perspective? He says its bc he can't handle the stress or expectations that come along with a relationship bc one bad argument will make him want to use. Mind you we fought in our relationship it wasn't the easiest.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:27 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Black91--
If there have been many relapses why are you with this guy? That sounds as if you are invested in being with an active addict.

And given that there have been those relapses, why do you not believe him when he says that the relationship is part of his problem? Given his history over the past three years it is clear that something is wrong.

Why are you so invested in a relationship with someone that sick?
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:35 PM   #19 (permalink)
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This is an old thread Black, but I will give you my perspective. It could be the turmoil is too much for him and he just needs to create a really mellow, safe environment. I was in a very long relationship with someone and we had a lot of troubles and she drinks every night, though not excessively. I eventually had to move out before I could get sober. It was just too difficult for me. But we're still good friends. On the other hand he could want out of the relationship and is using it as an excuse because many of us have a difficult time being honest and dealing with confrontation.

You could also post a new thread over in the Friends and Family section. Best of luck with it.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:40 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Hope you don't mind me jumping in from the Friends and Family forum. I used to question the 'one-year relationship-free' suggestion too. I understand it now. My ex was in recovery for only a couple of months, attending AA, seeing a therapist, meeting daily with a sponsor, going to church, working out, doing fantastic healthy things for himself when he convinced me that we should give our relationship another try. I saw good things happening and believed it could work. It did, for a few months. It was amazing and we were genuinely happy. But then while things were good, he convinced himself that he didn't need his therapist any more, didn't need to meet with his sponsor any more, didn't need to go to church as often...and things started unraveling slowly.

Our relationship became the filler that he thought he needed. He quit working on himself because we were happy, life was good, and he thought that was all he needed. He quit working on himself. And we gradually fell apart. I love him still, but it will forever be from a distance. Too much painful history, no longer any trust. I will never know how things might have been different if I had said no to the reconciliation and had waited for at least a year of healthy recovery before going back.
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