Learning that a potential romantic interest has battled addiction in their past can stir up various different emotions. Some people firmly hold onto the disparaging stigma that people who have substance use disorder are damaged and are not likely to make good partners, causing them to miss out on making wonderful connections. However, most likely, you are more interested in learning how to make things work upon discovering that someone you’ve come become fond of has overcome an illness that affects millions of people from all walks of life across America.
Analyze your Motivations
When they shared their story about addiction, did it spark something within you that made you feel you need to continue this relationship in order for them to stay healthy? Sometimes people are prone to having a “savior complex” when it comes to those in recovery. They feel they need to “fix” or “save” them from their previous struggles, or that if they break up with that person it might cause them to relapse. This can be dually problematic, potentially developing a codependent relationship that can cause someone in recovery to regress. While it’s absolutely encouraged to be supportive as a partner, people who have overcome addiction must remain responsible for their behaviors and progress in recovery.
Beware of the Timeline
Those in early recovery are often discouraged from dating. The first two years are often the most challenging, and they should be focused on rebuilding their lives and health during that time. If you feel your potential romantic interest may be jumping into things too early based on their treatment and recovery timeline, you may want to remain in a more casual, friendly relationship as they continue to make progress. The stress and changes that come with a relationship could bring about issues for both parties.
If you’ve never had experience with addiction either directly or indirectly, take this time to learn about how substance use disorder can affect the brain. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about their story if they are willing to share. Learning about relapse and relapse triggers will also be beneficial to making things work in the long run as they are a constant threat to sobriety for many people in recovery. Their progress and work on self-improvement will also have a significant impact on how they will deal with stressors, changes, and communication in the relationship.
It’s essential to get a good feel for how your potential partner sees their progress in recovery. They should be aware that this is a life-long journey of healing and that their well-being will always be a priority. Keep communication open and free about things in their past and future in regards to their experience with addiction to avoid conflict surrounding unfinished business or the highs and lows some people in recovery may face.
Dating someone in recovery will require you to make some thoughtful choices and changes to your life if you are genuinely determined to make things work. This may seem daunting or overwhelming at first, but it can also garner a deep connection with someone who has been working very hard to better themselves after overcoming difficult circumstances due to addiction. People in recovery deserve to find and enjoy healthy, loving relationships and are at a point in recovery where they will put their best foot forward to become a valued partner.
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