shutterstock_1204256557.jpeg (shutterstock_1204256557.webp)Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and whether you spent it with a sweetheart or practicing a little self-care, we hope it was full of love! However, for those who are newly in recovery from substance addiction and abuse, dating can be a daunting prospect. Between social pressures to drink or use on a date and the anticipation of “revealing” your status as someone in recovery to a new paramour, you may be feeling discouraged and unsure how to move forward after V-Day 2021.

At Recovery Care, Dr. Rosen and her team of addiction treatment providers in WV and Western PA want their patients to feel confident when living their lives -- and finding love -- during and after their recovery journey. Here are a few year-round tips for dating while clean and sober:

Be Honest With Your Date

Whether you’re looking for long-term love or just some casual companionship, it’s absolutely crucial that you’re ready to be honest about your recovery with whoever you’re about to spend time with. This doesn’t mean you have to blurt out, “I’m in addiction recovery!” as soon as you sit down in front of your date -- in fact, it doesn’t mean you have to disclose anything about your addiction at all. What it does mean is that should your recovery come up -- especially if you need to decline a triggering activity or establish a boundary -- you must be ready to speak honestly, rather than coming up with excuses or untruths. There is no shame in addiction or receiving treatment for that addiction, nor does that shame have any place on a date.

Be Ready to Talk About Your Recovery

“Being honest” about your struggles with addiction is easy to say, but it isn’t always so simple to do in the moment. That’s why it’s often helpful to prepare yourself before you’re in a situation where you need to speak about your recovery with a potential romantic partner. This is actually a great opportunity to check in with yourself regarding your journey so far. Think about why you decided to seek treatment in the first place, the boundaries you’ve already established in order to stay sober, and the benefits you’re already feeling from clean living (as well as the hardships -- honesty means honesty!). If you’re struggling to answer those questions for yourself or with finding the language to express these things to someone you care about, you don’t have to come up with everything by yourself. Speak to a trained substance abuse counselor for some compassionate, professional guidance!

Date Within Supportive Circles

Love may be inscrutable, emotional and mysterious, but if you’re actively dating, there is an aspect of choice surrounding the people you’ll be spending your time with. If you’re in recovery, choosing supportive partners can make a massive difference in the quality of your love life, and your life in general. Equally important is learning to decline any romantic partners who minimize your struggles, make you feel ashamed, or worse, enable your addiction. Strongly consider dating outside of any circles that you know are still using, drinking, or partaking in other behaviors that you know to be triggering, especially if they’ve already been a large part of your life during your addiction. On the flipside, it may be helpful to give someone a chance who is also in recovery, or has been through their own recovery journey in the past. Speaking honestly and candidly about addiction recovery is much easier when you’re certain that you’ll be met with support from the get-go, and having a mutual understanding of how difficult the road can be may even bring you closer together.

Try Some Creative Date Ideas

Now may be the best time there is for dating sober, as most bars, music venues and other potentially triggering spaces are still closed due to COVID-19. However, when the next best thing for many people seems to be chilling out at home, it’s still a good idea to get creative in order to avoid the set of temptations that can come with being cooped up inside. Outside-the-box dating isn’t necessarily a hassle -- in fact, it’s attractive, shows your partner that you’re putting thought into your time together, and can set you apart from every other “swipe right” they’ve got lined up on Tinder. See what common interests you and your date have, then try to jazz it up: if you enjoy hiking, find a unique location to see the great outdoors together. If you both love to eat, come up with a meal you can prepare together at home, keeping hands and mouths busy as you bond.

Your addiction recovery journey is an important part of your life, and you should have every confidence in sharing that life with someone else. If you’re having difficulty connecting with others during your recovery or need any other form of support, the team at Recovery Care includes professional substance abuse counselors as part of our addiction treatment program in Jeannette, PA, Somerset, PA and Keyser, West Virginia.

Ready to love yourself and others in the best way you can? Schedule an appointment today and take the first step toward being your best self.