When you come into recovery, your life suddenly becomes abuzz with new and exciting opportunities. You’ve opened yourself up to a world of possibilities including a new career, new friendships, new hobbies and interests, and yes, the opportunity to have good, strong, healthy romantic relationships.
Now, you’re excited about that last one, aren’t you? The romances you’ve had throughout your active addictions have been unfulfilling, even hurtful. They were fun at first, but ultimately drove you deeper into your addictions. The end of a relationship might have even been that “bottom” that drove you seek relief from your addiction, or drove your family to hold that dreaded intervention.
You’re sober now though so it’s all going to be better, right? You finished treatment and now you’re living in this sober living home all ready to get your life going. A romantic relationship seems like the next logical step in achieving the life you’ve always wanted. After all, a relationship is what makes us happy in life, right? Just like in Jerry Maguire, aren’t we all looking for that person to “complete us”?
In reality, relationships don’t “complete us”. If you aren’t happy in life, seeking out a relationship won’t solve that problem. A relationship won’t provide you with the peace and joy you’re looking for – that has to come from within you. Happiness, peace and joy must exist in both people prior to entering a relationship. After all, a successful relationship isn’t two unhappy people getting together to become happy, its two happy people coming together to share their happiness. Any other way will end in nothing but disaster.
In early recovery, we don’t have the ability to enter into a serious long-term healthy relationship. We don’t have the emotional, spiritual, or mental resources to contribute successfully to the other person’s life. It’s why the experts say that you should have a good chunk of sobriety under your belt before you pursue a new relationship. Not only that, you’re working on yourself right now. You’re learning how to become the best person you possibly can in recovery. These skills that you learn now will help you form the solid building blocks that will lead to a very fulfilling long-term relationship in the future.
Do we mean that you should avoid relationships completely in early recovery? Well, not exactly. You don’t have to avoid people that you’re attracted to. It is however, a wise idea to keep it in the “friend zone”. If you both are in recovery, become friends but stay as just friends. Get to know each other on an intellectual level, not a physical one. Above all though, don’t rely on that person to make you happy and don’t let that person rely on you for their happiness either. If it gets to that point, you’ve gone too far and you’re heading back into the realm of co-dependence – this time with the drug called love. While it feels good at first, it will lead to nowhere except disappointment, maybe even a real relapse.
So if you’re lonely in early recovery, remember to seek out friendships but keep it platonic. Talk to your sponsor, keep going to meetings, and even share about your feelings in your meetings. We guarantee, you’re not the only one who is feeling this way in early recovery. Be careful where you share though. If you’re a lonely girl, the right place to share those feelings might not be in a meeting where there is a large population of lonely guys. But by all means, get those problems out in the open and let your recovery community guide and support you. When you have the proper foundations in place and you’ve built up your recovery “toolbox”, you’ll find satisfaction in your relationships beyond anything you’ve ever experienced.