SHARE After dating one dud after another, you finally find someone who seems to have it all — thoughtful, witty, responsible — and good-looking to boot. Then they drop a bomb: They have learned critical relationship skills, including how to identify, process and communicate their emotions and to set personal boundaries while respecting the lines drawn by others. And they have committed — in recovery and in life — to honesty and integrity and making decisions in accordance with their values.
Men and women learn a lot in recovery, not just about staying sober but living a happy, satisfying life. Some are deeply spiritual people whose lives are infused with meaning and purpose, while others volunteer in their communities or have interesting hobbies that keep them grounded. Because recovery is a lifelong process, recovering addicts are in a perpetual state of self-improvement.
First, the recovering addict should have at least one year of sobriety, and preferably many more. Second, they should be actively working a program of recovery — attending meetings, volunteering, practicing self-care and so on — not just begrudgingly staying away from drugs and alcohol while addictive patterns fester. These provisos are in place to give addicts a fair shot at lasting recovery and to protect the people they might date from falling for someone who is unhealthy, unavailable or worse.
What are your beliefs about addiction? Although research has refuted outdated assumptions about addiction, surveys have shown that people judge addicts even recovering ones more harshly than people struggling with obesity , depression and even schizophrenia.
Sometimes if your alarm bells are ringing, there is good reason. When you bring a recovering addict into your inner circle, their choices and lifestyle can have significant bearing not only on their health and well-being but also your own.
As a chronic brain disease, the threat of relapse is ever-present — an estimated 40 to 60 percent of addicts relapse — and watching someone you love spiral out of control can be one of the most horrific experiences of your life.
Of course, not all addicts relapse and those that do are often able to get back on track before too much damage is done, but the threat is there nevertheless. If you move forward with the relationship, be aware of a few unique aspects of dating someone in recovery.
They may need to meet with a sponsor or attend support group meetings at inconvenient times and your support in encouraging them to do so is essential. You also need to assess how much baggage you can handle.
Addicts tend to do crazy things. They may have accrued debts, a criminal record or legal problems, or irrevocably damaged key relationships in their lives that make your interactions with their family and friends tenuous. You may hear wild stories of drug-fueled sexscapades or run into slippery characters from their past. All of these can be difficult to understand, so you have to honestly evaluate and communicate your tolerance level.
Is dating a recovering addict a deal-breaker for you?