In early recovery, meeting new people is an entirely new adventure. Dating, which may have once represented drug-infused chaos, can even become a scarier tornado once you eliminate the mind-altering substance security blankets. Real feelings! Real intimacy! Real commitment! The idea is as tantalizing as it is terrifying, and it’s as rewarding as it is risky.
In healthy dynamics, these relationships can enhance your recovery; they can make you a rounder and happier version of yourself. In unhealthy dynamics, however, such relationships can trigger emotional instability, mental agony, and eventual relapse.
Let’s explore some red flags to look out for when meeting someone new.
They Fail To Respect Your Sobriety
If getting sober is hard, staying sober requires 10x more effort, discipline, and dedication. If it’s not your top priority, it can slip straight through your unsuspecting fingers.
Potential partners must respect your recovery process. This doesn’t mean that they naturally “get it.” It simply means they are willing to ask questions, learn, and provide support.
Disrespectful partners challenge your recovery. They may directly or indirectly attempt to thwart your progress in a variety of ways including:
- Guilt-tripping you to miss meetings or appointments to spend time with them.
- Using or drinking around you.
- Question if you really “have a problem.”
- Criticizing or making hurtful comments about your recovery.
- Attempting to convince you to drink or use.
Potential partners should be motivating and supportive of your efforts. They should be proud of you for the hard work you do to better yourself every day. Whether it’s subtle or overt, any attempts to sabotage your recovery represent major red flags.
Your Support Circle Doesn’t Like Them
Let’s discuss a familiar scenario: one of your close friends is in a relationship with someone you despise. Maybe he or she is jealous or controlling. Perhaps he or she has a bad attitude or lacks ambition or flirts with other people. Regardless, you just know and feel that your friend inherently deserves someone better.
What happens when you’re that friend? When you’re the one in a relationship that makes others cringe? What happens when the people you value most don’t approve of the person you’re dating?
Sure, there’s always that chance that your loved ones are being overprotective or jumping to conclusions. But, we are a sum of the people we surround ourselves with. If people are raising concerns, there’s a strong likelihood that these concerns have validity.
After all, if they didn’t love you- if they didn’t want what was best for you- why would they even care who you dated?
They Don’t Respect Themselves
Just like partners must respect you, they must also respect themselves. Self-respect displays a sense of dignity and maturity. When someone respects themselves, they tend to:
- Think before they act or speak.
- Have appropriate standards for their quality of life.
- Maintain healthy boundaries in social interactions.
- Work to achieve realistic and obtainable goals.
- Know how to cope with difficult emotions.
When someone doesn’t respect themselves, this defect often reveals itself in erratic behavior, poor or confusing relationships, impulsivity or stagnation, and poor emotional regulation.
A lack of self-respect can create enormous problems within relationships. That’s because these individuals are increasingly susceptible to wanting power and control in relationships. They often “need” from others the qualities they cannot yet give themselves. This push-and-pull complex can result in hostility, jealousy, manipulation, infidelity, and emotional or physical abuse.
You’re Afraid To Be Alone
It’s normal to desire commitment and partnership. However, addiction to substances often coincides with codependency on others, and many people are vulnerable to trading one issue for the other.
If you’re only with someone for the sake of being with someone, this is a red flag. It shows that you may be avoiding the discomfort associated with building a relationship with yourself. It also shows that you may not be with the person for the right reasons- which often results in more complications and pain later down the road.
There’s nothing wrong with being single, and there’s nothing wrong with being in a relationship. That said, you should want and enjoy and feel confident with the people you choose to date. If you don’t experience those emotions, your motives will undoubtedly backfire.
While dating in recovery can be challenging, it can also be a profound learning and healing experience. Take time to get to know yourself before getting to know another person. Furthermore, keep your values in check. If it feels wrong, listen to that feeling and do something about it!