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Building a Healthy Relationship: 11 Tips for Dating a Recovering Addict


Are you dating a recovering addict but aren’t sure how to go forward with your relationship?

Dating a recovering addict can be challenging, as there’s a fine line between being a supportive partner and being an enabler. Luckily, there are some tips you can follow to make dating a recovering addict easier.

Check out this guide to learn how to date a recovering addict.

  1. Understand Where They are On Their Sobriety Journey

If you’ve been with the addict for a while, then you should have a pretty good idea as to where they are on their sobriety journey. However, if you just started dating the person, you must understand where they are in their sobriety journey.

While the road to recovery has its ups and downs, generally speaking, things get easier the longer you’re sober. For most addicts, the first year of sobriety is very tough, and it takes a lot of focus to stay sober. For this reason, most experts suggest that newly sober people don’t date during their first year of recovery, as they usually don’t have the energy they need to be a supportive partners.

However, everyone is different, and some recovering addicts have no trouble dating during their first year of recovery. That being said, it’s still important to know where the person your dating is on their sobriety journey. This will help you better understand how being a support system works.

  1. Accept Their Baggage

Addiction leaves behind some pretty intense and unique baggage. Many recovering addicts struggle with legal problems, fractured relationships, and financial problems.

If you plan to be in a long-term relationship with an addict, these are issues that you’re going to have to address at some point. However, if an addict has more baggage than you can handle, you need to be honest about it.

To be in a healthy relationship with an addict, you need to accept their baggage without any judgment. If you don’t think you can do that, then you shouldn’t be in the relationship.

  1. Don’t Try to Fix Your Partner

Accepting someone’s baggage doesn’t mean you need to fix their baggage. For example, if you’re dating a recovering addict who is in debt, it’s not your job to help them pay off their debt.

It’s also not your job to mend their broken relationships or fix their legal issues. For your partner to truly recover, they need to fix their problems on their own. All you can do is be a source of encouragement, love, and support for them. While it may seem like fixing their issues will help them, this only serves to enable them in the long-run.

  1. Take Things Slow

If your relationship with an addict is new, you must take things slow. Rushing into a relationship is never a good idea, but it’s especially not a good idea when you’re dating a recovering addict.

Taking things slow will ensure that the two of you have time to get to know one another and that you can make sure you can handle the responsibilities of dating a recovering addict.

  1. Educate Yourself

If you’re going to date an addict, you must educate yourself about addiction. While the road to recovery is different for everyone, you must understand the different phases of addiction recovery.

If your partner goes to rehab, you should understand what their rehab journey looks like. You should also understand what they’ll be doing after rehab to stay on the path to sobriety.

Many partners, friends, and family members choose to attend support groups. During these group meetings, you’ll learn about how to be supportive to your partner when they slip up.

  1. Put Their Recovery First

It’s important to understand that attending rehab doesn’t mean an addict’s recovery journey is over. In fact, rehab is just the beginning of recovery.

After rehab, a recovering addict typically has appointments and meetings to attend. While this can make it difficult to plan dates and social activities, it’s important that you make your partner’s recovery a priority in your relationship. Doing so will help build a better relationship for both you and your partner.

  1. Understand What Triggers Your Partner

In addition to putting your partner’s recovery first, you also need to understand what triggers your partner. Every recovering addict has certain sights, sounds, and situations that trigger their desire to drink or use drugs.

For example, visiting a bar or establishment that one used to go to get intoxicated can trigger the urge to use drugs or drink. Or, it might be that a certain person or group of friends triggers your partner. For some addicts, a certain emotion, such as sadness, may trigger their desire to drink.

Ask your partner what their triggers are. If they don’t know what their triggers are, help your partner identify them. Once you understand your partner’s triggers, you can work together to create a plan on how to manage them.

As time passes, the intensity of your partner’s cravings will diminish. However, it’s important to understand that addiction is a chronic illness, which means that these triggers will never fully subside.

  1. Figure Out How to Have Sober Fun

If you and your partner used to spend a lot of time going out and hitting up the bars, you now need to figure out other ways to have fun together.

Here are some ways you can have some sober fun:

  • Head to the farmer’s market
  • Check out a comedy show
  • Go for a hike or a walk in the park
  • Have a relaxing day at the spa
  • Go to a movie
  • Go out for coffee
  • Take a cooking class
  • Go mini-golfing
  • Take a dance class together
  • Go to a carnival
  • Go rock climbing
  • Head to the beach
  • Attend a concert
  • Have a movie marathon

As you can see, there’s a lot that you can do to have sober fun with your partner.

  1. Don’t Neglect Yourself

When dating a recovering addict, it can be so easy to become wrapped up in your partner’s needs that you forget to take care of yourself. No matter how complicated your relationship is, you still need to take the time to sleep, eat healthy, and exercise.

Here are some other self-care activities that can help relieve stress:

  • Go for a run or walk
  • Do yoga or meditate
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Journal
  • Take a hot bubble bath
  • Stretch
  • Dance
  • Watch a movie or TV show
  • Bake your favorite dessert
  • Spend some time with a friend
  • Spend time in nature
  • Listen to music or a podcast

It’s important to remember that self-care is not selfish. Engaging in self-care will help you be the best partner that you can be.

  1. Don’t Allow Yourself to Be Manipulated

A lot of addicts are masters of manipulation. This is because they constantly need to convince others that they’re not struggling with addiction and that they don’t need help.

Most addicts are also very skilled at lying, as they constantly need to come up with excuses as to why they keep dropping the ball. While some addicts are able to discontinue this behavior once they’ve gone through treatment, other addicts have more trouble holding onto these behaviors post-recovery.

If you notice that your partner is displaying manipulative behaviors, don’t stand for it. You deserve the same level of respect in this relationship as you would in any relationship.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

As we’ve mentioned earlier, everyone’s addiction recovery journey looks different. If you don’t understand something about your partner’s recovery process, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

As we mentioned earlier, you definitely want to ask your partner what stage they are in their recovery as well as what their triggers are.

If someone is very far along in the recovery process, they may have absolutely no problem with you drinking a glass of wine in front of them. However, if they’re new to recovery, this could be the worst thing for them. Asking your partner questions is the best way to understand where their boundaries are.

Dating a Recovering Addict: Are You Ready to Date?

Now that you know these tips for dating a recovering addict, you should be able to move forward with a healthy relationship. However, it may be that the addict that you’re dating is not ready for a relationship yet, and you’ll need to respect that.

Be sure to check back in with our blog for more addiction recovery tips and tricks.

David Smith