Getting in over our heads is one of the leading causes of relapse during early recovery. We often do not allow ourselves enough time to adapt and grow to make certain life-altering changes. In the early stages of recovery, we have not yet learned how to manage our emotions effectively, which can cause anxiety, anger, depression, and loneliness. While companionship is necessary and an encouraging part of the healing process, starting a romantic relationship can be triggering for relapse.
Romance and Early Recovery
A budding romance is always exciting. The possibility of meeting “the one” can be very inviting and especially early on in the relationship. We too often throw caution and jump in both feet first. However, most relationships do not work out because people meet at different stages in life and want different things, and sometimes they find they can not offer the relationship what it will take to sustain it over a long period of time. Many people break up, they cope and they move on. When a person is in recovery, however, they might discover that they have gotten themselves into a situation that is hard on both of them.
Why It Is Not Recommended We Date During Early Recovery
- Still figuring ourselves out: We might not have established the tools it will take to discover who we are and what we want out of life when we first come out of recovery.
- Transfer: We have been suffering from addiction and we have just gone through rehab. The process proved trying and transformative, and because of it, we have an abundant and sometimes uncontrollable amount of emotions surging through us. We are also still coping with a life free from addiction, and often our impulses take over, causing us to transfer those impulses toward other outlets like relationships, and/or sex.
- Codependency: While it is not recommended you seek any romantic relationship, a romantic relationship between two people in recovery can become especially toxic and lead to what is known as codependency. This is a bond shared between two people who might have low-self esteem as well as people with a rocky foundation. This often leads to unsuccessful recovery, causing a person to further push people who might offer support away, as well as stunt any positive growth.
- Isolation: Oftentimes a codependency relationship offers no mutual respect or love, rather, it is based upon neediness. As a result of a failed relationship between two people in recovery, isolation can occur. This is just as harmful to the success of the recovery.
How to Create Positive Relationships During Early Recovery
- Trust: Strong relationships are built upon trust, and it first takes trusting yourself. The goal of relationships during early recovery should focus on rebuilding relationships with friends and family, as well as having platonic relationships from those you meet in recovery.
- Support: The quality of our friendships determines the quality of our support. Early on in recovery, support systems should be made of people that can help you avoid and weather certain triggers, not enable them. These are also friends that will lend an ear when you just need somebody to listen to you. Examples of positive relationships include friends, family, therapist, or counselor. The stronger your network of support is, the stronger you will be. A strong support network is one of the best ways to sustain recovery.
- Being comfortable with the uncomfortable: This idea can apply to all aspects of recovery, but in regards to relationships, sometimes we want to choose the path of least resistance or the easy route. We might come out of rehab feeling vulnerable. We could also find it difficult to face life’s challenges, so we rush into relationships to feel a sense of security. However, we should focus on becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable and realize that our fears are normal. Furthermore, our negative thoughts are not signs of failure but merely a part of life. We should not run into addiction or a codependent relationship, but rather learn to accept our feelings and work on correcting why we feel this way.
Will I Ever Be Able to Find Romance Again?
In short, yes, of course! Just because you are trying to maintain a life of recovery does not mean that you cannot someday welcome romance into that recovery. Like anything, it takes time, work, and patience. Allow yourself to get to know the new you for a little while, after all, you have a lot of catching up to do with yourself. Let romance in when you feel ready to accept, respect, and love yourself and meet another with the same mutual feeling.
There are many difficulties that arise during the recovery process. True Recovery believes there is a successful way for everybody struggling with recovery to find a method that works for them. For more information or questions please call us at (866) 399-6528.