Dating in Recovery


This seems to be a touchy subject in the recovery world and everyone seems to have different approaches to this. One of the big no nos is the infamous 13 stepping. 13th step is not part of the recovery process and it’s a term usually used for a person with multiple years of recovery going after a “new comer”. Someone fairly new in recovery and taking advantage of this very vulnerable state. There is also this other idea that I see get thrown around, “don’t date for a year.” I can totally see the benefits of this, but personally I’m not a fan of negative reinforcement. I’d rather work on bettering myself and be taught on what to do, instead of what not to do. In the nine years I’ve been sober, I’ve made my share of mistakes when it comes to the dating world but more so I’ve seen other people in recovery relapse and or participate in other unhealthy behaviors that are, in my opinion, just as bad as getting high.

I also have an awesome sponsor who has taught me to work/change my behavior in relationships rather than just not date for year. In my opinion I could totally just not date for a year still have unhealthy behaviors and make a mess of my recovery dating life. And then blame the recovery world for doing as they told me and still causing a shit show. I’m not a fan of timelines, and to top it off, in the recovery literature (I personally practice the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous) It doesnt say anything about not dating for a year. That’s just some shit people made up. But it does say to make a fearless searching moral inventory of our romantic relationships, so I can see how I show up and how/where I am selfish and self centered and how I can focus on changing those behaviors before attempting to date somone.

Also, I just feel that if I’m not good at treating myself well: ie poisoning my body and mind. Not to mention, I have access to my own thoughts and feelings. 

What makes me think that I can treat a whole OTHER human with dignity and respect who probably has different ways of thinking and feeling that I dont have access to? Just makes it that much more difficult. 

In the last nine years of my recovery I’ve gone from swearing off dating people in recovery to swearing off people not in recovery, to working on myself and not dating anyone, to casual dating, to attempting to find a life partner. And honestly, at this point, I’m just focusing on living my life and not putting so many “rules” on it. Dating in general is just hard. I get to sponsor guys in the recovery world and I do my best to guide them and direct them the same way my sponsor does for me. I’ve personally seen way too many people get wrapped up in the drama and gossip of who’s dating who while in a 12 step meeting that it loses focus on why we’re there in the first place. If you’re in recovery and reading this, please don’t head towards a relapse by getting wrapped up in another person, and losing focus on healing yourself. 

My sponsor has always told me that if I’m getting worked up about a girl I’m dating, to focus on helping someone else, it’s the simplest way to get out of my selfish mindset. Because when I’m obsessed and focused on my dating experience, all I’m thinking about is how I’m being affected, how I’m feeling, how I’m being perceived, how I’m being treated, and just like that I get stuck in a selfish spiral (even having negative thoughts about myself is selfish because I'm only thinking about myself). Not to mention, I’ve probably lost focus on the girl I’m dating all together and how she feels and thinks. So the whole giving a fuck about someone else trick seems to always save my recovery. Even though I struggle with it at times, it hasn't failed me yet.