Content reviewed by Christian Losch, LCSW, LCADC, CEO of Pinelands

In general, dating is an incredibly vulnerable experience. It involves you getting out there and meeting new people. Once you find a person you want to pursue, you wind up evaluating your partner and assessing your suitability together. Dating requires patience.

When you start dating someone in addiction recovery, circumstances might seem tricky. Your dating partner must keep their sobriety a priority as you work to establish a relationship. It is essential to recognize and understand the available tools to both you and your partner as you experience this journey together.

It is important to understand the unique needs of your partner in recovery.

Every dating experience will lead you to understand that each person has unique personal and relational needs. Dating someone in recovery is no different in terms of recognizing these needs. There are, though, things that you need to consider when it comes to honoring the mental health of your dating partner and yourself.

No matter how early it is in your dating relationship, it is never too soon to increase your knowledge and understanding of addiction and recovery. Suppose you have not had to face either challenge for yourself. In that case, you can understand how critical it is for you to research to understand what your dating partner is experiencing, both in recovery and before their recovery began.

Consider researching:

  • What drug addiction is
  • What happens to the brain and body because of drug use
  • The risk factors associated with developing an addiction
  • Why some people get addicted to drugs and others do not
  • Warning signs for addiction and relapse
  • Treatment options for recovery

If you and your dating partner are working towards building a more serious relationship, there are other factors to consider. For example, you may want to gain a better understanding of where your dating partner is at on their recovery journey. If they just began treatment, it might be wise to hold off on pursuing your partner so that they can keep their recovery as the highest priority in their life.

Keep in mind the following factors:

  • Your current life situation
  • Your personal and relational needs
  • Where your dating partner is at on their recovery journey
  • Your partner’s personal, relational, and recovery needs
  • Both of your expectations regarding your relationship

Once you have engaged in a necessary evaluation of yourself and your dating partner, you can feel better about your potential future together. Like any relationship, there will be bumps in the road. It is essential to know how to work through those bumps together as you work towards achieving a sustaining relationship with each other.

Here are several ground rules to help you as you experience dating someone in addiction recovery:

#1. Don’t postpone the critical conversations.

Once your partner feels comfortable enough to share that they are in recovery, it is important to continue the conversation when it feels right. If you are dating in hopes of marriage or long-term commitment, you deserve to know where your partner is in their recovery. You’ll need to be aware of your partner’s triggers, boundaries and social habits. Your typical Friday night might be a deal-breaker for your partner in recovery and vice versa.

#2. Examine your own experiences and biases about addiction and recovery.

You will need to examine your own beliefs about addiction and recovery so that you can show up the best that you can for your partner. If you have watched a close loved one go through addiction and relapse multiple times, you might have issues with trust moving forward in your relationships. It is crucial to reason with your own beliefs and biases and intentionally work through them for yourself and your future dating partners.

#3. Recognize that you are not meant to solve your partner’s problems.

Dating someone in recovery can seem like an opportunity to be a hero. Keep in mind that, although you can be a source of love, empowerment and support, you can not fix your partner. If you feel that your desire to be with your partner is to rescue them, you might have unresolved problems with codependency. Codependency will only make matters worse for you and your partner in recovery.

#4. Prioritize your self-care like you encourage your partner to prioritize their recovery.

For your partner, recovery is a part of their self-care. For you, it is vital that you continue to engage in self-care and practices of self-love. Taking time for self-care can help you evaluate your needs and goals for your future. It reminds you to check in with yourself now and then to ensure you are doing what is best for yourself and your partner. Self-care is critical both in and outside of recovery.

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is a substance use and addiction treatment center that recognizes the challenges of dating while in recovery. Setting healthy boundaries and having healthy conversations will make all of the difference. For more information about dating in recovery or addiction treatment, please call Pinelands today at (877) 557-5372