When we leave a treatment program, the world can seem big, new, and frightening. We have to relearn how to live in the world. Leaving a treatment program is a stepped approach, as we learn these skills in sober living houses before moving out and learning to live and stand on our own, dating and doing all of the things sober life brings.
Humans are social creatures. We desire relationships and connections with other people in meaningful ways. Once we are out on our own, it is only natural that we start seeking out social situations, new people, and even dating.
But as someone in recovery, dating will be a challenge for you. You will have special concerns about where you go on a date, the person you are connecting with, and ways to maintain your safety and sobriety.
Preventing relapse is a major concern in recovery. When you are dating, you will need to find a partner who respects your past, your treatment, and your needs in recovery. Meeting all of these criteria is not as hard as you might think. Read on as we discuss these concerns and ideas for a fun and sober dating experience.
Dating and Relationships in Substance Use Recovery
People in substance use recovery have a harder time acclimating to the world outside of their treatment programs and sober living situations. Research shows that one reason for this is that people with substance use disorder (SUD) have fewer social support networks and coping skills.
Unsurprisingly, people in recovery report that their abstinence and remission are most successful when they have a caring person in their support structure. Positive relationships allow you to protect yourself by providing you with someone you can depend on who has your best interests at heart.
With all of these things in mind, it is important for people who have been through addiction treatment and recovery to build a secure support system around them. You have to focus on your sobriety first, and dating second.
That does not preclude you from dating, but it does mean that you will want to be careful who you trust your well-being and heart with. Fortunately, there are many resources for dating in recovery. Some apps like Bumble, Hinge, and SoberGrid provide networks and resources for people in recovery looking to date.
What to Remember When Dating in Recovery
Remember, dating in recovery will require both you and your potential partners to adjust to a different reality. You will have to plan activities carefully, and compatibility is a must. Here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- You are the only person responsible for your recovery. Your partner is not. Make sure you make good choices. You should not depend on your partner to always make the right choices for you.
- Dating may unearth trauma for you. Be open and talk about this with your partner.
- Recognize if triggers are present even if you did not plan for them. If they are, be prepared to leave, and make sure your partner is prepared for this eventuality.
- You are the best person to assess your own risk of relapse. Your partner may be someone who has never suffered from SUD, or they may be someone in recovery with their own triggers. You are responsible for yourself and your needs.
Sober, Fun, and Flirty Date Night Ideas
So now that we have discussed how to keep yourself safe and sober, why don’t we talk for a minute about date ideas for people in recovery? While it may not seem so, there are a lot of ways you can go out and have fun.
First, a lot of apps for dating, relationships, and socializing now let you select your preferences, which can help you match with people who have similar interests. You can even specify that you do not drink. Here are some other fun ideas for dates:
- Retro fun with skating and bowling. Going to the roller rink can bring a lot of laughs, and you might find other retro fun, like an old-style arcade, while you are not skating. Bowling can be a great, retro, fun idea for a date. Not only are you engaging in a built-in activity, but most bowling alleys serve some food.
- Visiting scenic areas and botanical gardens. Botanical gardens offer beautiful spaces where you and your date can walk and talk while learning about the beautiful flowers the gardeners carefully curate. You can also take a scenic walk on a nearby trail observing plants, wildlife, streams, and waterfalls.
- Getting in touch with your artistic side. You and your date could go to an art walk your city puts on, visit an art gallery, or even visit a local art museum. Sharing this common interest can make the conversation flow.
- Go for a run or a hike. Are you both adventurous people? Do you both have an interest in fitness? Then you might want to consider a more active date. Take a pack with water and snacks to quench your appetite as you work out together.
There are so many other ideas you can latch onto. You can find a local trivia night, explore new restaurants or old ones you never stopped at, take a picnic at a local park, take your date to an animal shelter to visit the dogs and cats, or even volunteer in an organization you are both passionate about. The sky is the limit!
Valentine’s Day is a day of love, lovers, romance, and all things amorous. February 14 marks the day in the year when young lovers and old lovers alike think about how they will show their partners, lovers, and friends how much they care. But for people in recovery, dating is not so easy. Your health, well-being, and recovery are important too. Do not feel pressured to put yourself in a position where you jeopardize your sobriety. You have learned ways you can stay away from triggers and stay sober while showing your partner how much you care. If you need support, call your Renaissance Ranch care team at (801) 308-8898 today.