You won’t find any recovery literature that says you shouldn't date during your first year clean and sober. However, you will hear it often suggested in 12-step meeting groups, and for good reason. Though you're perfectly free to have your own experience, anyone who’s been through the ringer of drugs and alcohol should take time to nurture their recovery and put sobriety first.
Years of addiction is taxing on your mind, body and spirit. And there’s healing that needs to take place. But life happens. People fall in love. And for a few, it works out that first year. However, here are 4 good reasons why you should wait to date when you're new in sobriety.
1. You Need to Focus on Your Recovery
The first year clean is often the hardest. So it’s important to take time to focus on your recovery and staying sober. This alone may require everything you’ve got. It’s so easy to focus on someone else and their needs and getting in a relationship is a nice distraction. Let’s face it — love feels good. But staying clean and sober must come first. It’s easy to make other people and things your God so learning how to set healthy boundaries is vital.
Recovery doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a process and it takes work. You had no problem dedicating time to drinking and getting high. So why not give that same dedication to your recovery?
2. Relationships Can Be Draining
Your “picker” at this time may be broken when it comes to choosing a significant other. It’s easy to end up in relationships that are emotionally draining or even toxic which is only a setup to relapse. The ups and downs of dating are tough and it's often a trial and error process. With that in mind, devote your first year to just being sober. Take the time to learn who you are and who you’re not.
3. You Should Try the 12-Step Process
The twelve-step recovery process doesn’t have a monopoly on getting or staying sober. However, giving the “steps” a chance can significantly impact your life for the better. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. You’ll discover how personal powerlessness sets you free and how to rely on your higher power. The 12-steps lead you down a path of recovery that changes you from the inside out.
Gain access to the tools that help you to navigate just about any situation in life. Clean up the wreckage of your past and make amends for harm done. Learn how to carry the message of recovery and become the “you” that you’ve always wanted to be. Those who partake in a twelve-step program have access to priceless insights which enable them to approach life, sobriety and relationships from a healthy point of view.
4. Love is Like a Drug
There’s no denying that love feels like bliss. And when you’re caught up in the flirt or initial infatuation everything becomes A-ok. When it’s good it’s good. And when it’s bad — it’s bad. There’s no way around it. When you’re not getting high or drinking anymore, it’s so easy to “fix” on sex and feel good emotions and both can lessen the blow of not drinking or getting high. But “fixing” on sex and dating can be dangerous to your recovery. Take the time to do the inner work first and become grounded in your recovery before stepping into the love ring.