In early recovery, most rehab programs advise that you say "no" to dating. You must first dedicate time to giving love to yourself and only enter a new relationship when you’re truly ready. That is, when you’re able to maintain TLC for yourself and have enough to spare for another person. Until then, revel in that period of singledom and self-love because it will prepare you for the next phase.
When you’re recovered, in the right frame of mind, and able to love someone for the right reasons, your sober self-discovery journey will actually take an even deeper dive. Here’s how to make sure you don't sabotage something potentially long-lasting (your relationship or your recovery) and become a better person in the process instead.
Your Relationship Reflects Who You Are
When you find the right relationship at the right time, your significant other will bring your self-improvement game to the next level—whether they know it or not. That’s because for many of us, a relationship serves as a mirror. When you look into it, what you find is a reflection of yourself. In a relationship, when you look at your partner, you’ll find aspects of yourself in him or her, too.
To explain how this happens, here’s a scenario. Let’s say you are struggling with insecurity issues. Your sweetheart gets home late from work and you’re freaking out. You automatically assume he or she has been spending time hanging out with a good-looking coworker. You are feeling jealous. But instead of owning your jealousy, you question the other person and passive-aggressively treat him or her badly. Little did you know, your loved one is late because he or she helped a stranger on the road get out of an emergency.
In this situation, your partner would be reflecting back to you your own insecurity. This happens quite often in relationships, as partners can mirror both positive and negative qualities about each other. You can mirror positive things like unconditional love at times, or you can mirror negative things like anger or jealousy.
How to Use the “Mirror” Positively
Knowing how the relationship positively or negatively affects your innermost self can help you develop as an individual, if you use your relationship’s mirroring power with intention. When you feel a negative emotion arise such as anger, jealousy, frustration, fear, etc., take some time to really gauge your heart to see if this emotion is your own issue or not.
Before pointing fingers or projecting onto your partner, check your own heart. If you’re really not sure, be vulnerable with your partner. Let him or her know that you’re feeling insecure and you’re not sure whether it’s coming from within or from something he or she has done. Someone who loves you and has your best interest in mind will approach you with honesty. The hard facts can point in either direction, but it’s a wise step to assess yourself first before making assumptions.
After all, our “shadow” selves is known to sometimes overtake our relationships. Recognizing when it’s rearing its head gives us the opportunity to learn about residual issues we may have buried. Once discovered, you can begin a new journey to contend with those issues and seek healing for it so you can move forward with a lighter load and even more love to give to other person.