In sobriety, friendships may take on a new meaning or look differently than when you were in active addiction. Before you made the decision to get sober, you probably spent some of your free time with friends that liked to drink with you. Much of your time together revolved around drinking and perhaps doing things that you may regret. Your friendships may not really have been very deep either.
However, now that you’re sober, friendships begin to take on a new meaning. Oftentimes, when you stop drinking, old friends start to slip away for one reason or another. Maybe they don’t like being around someone who no longer partakes in the drinking or perhaps you are uncomfortable being in the presence of those who drink. Either way, many people in recovery show up without many friends and some with none at all, causing them to feel quite alone.
If you’re in recovery and seeking new friends that are good influences on you, it’s important to first understand what true friendship means. Here are 4 attributes to look for in a friend when you’re in recovery.
1. Encourages you in your journey.
As you move forward in recovery, it is helpful to look for friends who are able to accept you in recovery. These individuals will support you in your endeavors and will not judge you for not drinking or using. If you do feel judged by a certain individual, he or she may not necessarily be the kind of friend you want to hang around with.
2. Offers unconditional love.
To be a friend, it means offering unconditional love to one another. This means through the good times, as well as the bad. Unconditional love means you stick with each other even when one of you is going through something tough or perhaps when a relapse occurs and sets you back for a brief moment. Loving someone where they are on their journey and standing with them in support is a picture of true friendship.
3. Shares common interests with you.
Oftentimes those with common interests become friends and this is no different for those in recovery. Do you have to become friends only with sober people or those in recovery? Not necessarily, but you’ll probably feel more comfortable if you have at least one common interest. Maybe you like to play softball, so you join a softball team and make a friend or two from the team. Or perhaps you attend church and meet like-minded people there. Friendships based on common interests can be very beneficial to those in recovery.
4. Exhibits positive characteristics.
There are characteristics that help cultivate the bonds of solid friendships, such as honesty, respect, loyalty, empathy and compassion. Having a meaningful friendship ought to feel good. You ought to be able to call upon your friend for love and support at any time and get it and vice versa. You ought to feel safe in the friendship and be able to be yourself. Will a dispute ever arise? Perhaps, but a solid friendship will be able to make it through disputes as both of you communicate and work through issues.
If you are struggling with loneliness or your circle of friends isn’t the best for you, it’s time to reach out to someone new. It may not always be easy, but it’s worth the effort and it’s actually easier than you may think. In fact, you may be surprised at how many people are actually also craving deep, solid friendships. Start seeking and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to find people in the world who are just like you.