Romance and finances are the two primary contributors to emotional pain or hardship. When you enter recovery, it is suggested that you stay out of romantic relationships for at least your first year. Of course, that is not a rule, and nobody is going to know what is best for you and your life. However, it is suggested to wait until you have a firm foundation in recovery because it will be a lot easier to slip and potentially relapse over any pain you may feel when it comes to love and relationships. If you find yourself dealing with either of these, it may be best to take some direction in regards to your life.
There are stories we hear all the time about people meeting in 12-Step fellowships and forming relationships, both romantic and platonic. It makes sense that we, as individuals, are attracted to other individuals in the recovery program because of the innate qualities we each possess. People that have gone through hardships and have similar backgrounds are seen as attractive because you feel like they understand you. They know the difficulties you’re experiencing and you don’t have to feel ashamed about anything you did in the past.
Developing a deep personal connection to someone as a result makes perfect sense. Another reason is you both are trying to grow spiritually and cultivating a different life for yourselves. This is also easier when the person is walking along the same spiritual path you are. However, there are some risks to note when you are in a romantic relationship with someone in early recovery.
Risks of Romance in Early Recovery
First, understand that people in early recovery are attempting to better themselves and are not entirely well just yet. They may have some struggles that have caused great pain that they are learning to work through. It is also challenging to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t actively sober anymore. If they weren’t ever in the recovery program or even if they were at one point, it is very hard. This can be scary because you may decide to go back and relapse with them in a moment of weakness. This is especially true because addicted people tend to also have codependency problems. When you participate in such acts, you place your dependency and emotional well being in the care of someone else. Whether that person is healthy or not, this kind of codependence will never solve your problem. What you might be experiencing is an innate desire to connect in whatever way you can. Unfortunately, you could confuse this feeling with a biological need. Additionally, you might think that you need other people to feel okay about yourself and end up in relationships that are not healthy. It is suggested that you take a look at your motives from the beginning before starting a romantic relationship.
Hold off on Romance
Another common reason why it’s best to wait before starting a romantic relationship is that once you have done your steps and you get to the fourth step, there are three inventories that you will write. One of these inventories is a sex conduct inventory. In this inventory, you can examine your conduct over the years and look at specific behaviors that have caused harm to you or others. If you haven’t gotten to this step yet, it is almost impossible to realize and become aware that you might be using the same old behavior patterns that have caused problems in the past.
Partners As a Scapegoat
Another common mistake is indulging in selfish desires during relationships. You might immediately blame the other person or get angry when you don’t get what you want. However, once you have been through the Twelve Steps, you have an immediate process that you can utilize when feeling resentful at your partner. In turn, you can take responsibility for your actions, and it becomes easier to see your part in the relationship.
In order to love people unconditionally, you have to discard all your old beliefs about the world and the people in it. If you don’t rid yourself of these concepts and ask a higher power to take them, they will continue to cycle. This can cause great pain because you think it’s the other person’s fault. If you get into another relationship before you’ve dealt with these preconceptions, you’re sure to find that you are encountering the same issues you were having before. With this in mind, you can work on the spiritual growth necessary to move forward and truly love someone. Unconditional love can be hard to try and achieve. It takes a lot of introspection and constant self-reflection to get to the point where you can truly love someone.
Learn to Love Yourself First
The feeling of genuine love is fantastic, and you only gain that from working on yourself with the help of a higher power. A common misconception is that you might be confusing your needs with love. You might want to love a person when, in reality, you believe you need them to be okay. You might even believe that there is a hole in your heart without them, and that you cannot live without them. You have to accept that you can be perfect, whole, and complete on your own and that you don’t need a romantic partner to fulfill you. When you reach this realization, you can then feel confident in yourself and your abilities to love others. That hole is filled with a higher power’s love, and you can go out into the world, loving everyone around you without fear of loss or anger.
For most people in early recovery, romance is going to have to take a back seat, at least for a while. Recovery is a time for you to work on changing harmful thoughts and behaviors, so it’s recommended that you wait a least a year before engaging in any romantic relationship. Many addicted people find this a challenging path to walk, but the end result is more than worth it. For at least a few months, you’ll need all the help you can get just to stay sober and work on yourself. At True Recovery, you’ll find a safe place to heal, change your perspective on life, and mingle with like-minded individuals. Take the time you need to accept and love yourself. By understanding your past and the mistakes you’ve made, you can ensure a healthy future, whether you decide to start a romantic relationship or not. It all starts with taking the first step toward help. Give us a call today at True Recovery, at (866) 399-6528.