6 Tips for Dating a Recovering Alcoholic in AA (When You Are Not)
Things are going great on your date. The chemistry is there, you're laughing, you have plenty in common. Then they drop the bomb: they are an alcoholic who's gotten sober.
Is this a dealbreaker? Maybe, maybe not. Dating a recovering alcoholic can present some problems, but it's not an insurmountable hurdle.
1. Find Out How Long They've Been Sober
Jumping into a relationship in the early days of recovery can be a mistake. A recovering addict must take plenty of time to work on themselves, before adding a relationship to the mix.
If you're interested in someone who has been sober for less than one year, think about putting the brakes on. The more established their sobriety is, the better chance your partnership has of succeeding.
2. Be Emotionally Intelligent and Self-Aware
Addicts who have worked the AA program are usually very self-aware. They've looked inward and confronted their demons. That's not to say they're perfect, but they often have a pretty good grasp on their failings and faults.
For a serious relationship to thrive, both partners should be emotionally evolved. If one is self-aware and striving to improve, but the other is ignorant of her issues, things won't work out.
3. Accept Their Baggage
Just because they have become sober doesn't mean a person is free of baggage. There may be legal, financially, professional, or familial problems that began during their drinking days. It may be difficult for you to trust them.
If you are not willing to accept these issues, be upfront. Don't impose conditions on your partner that you haven't talked over in detail.
4. Take Things Slow
There is really no good reason for rushing into any relationship, and that goes double when you date a recovering addict. Rushing things can lead to miscommunications, unrealistic expectations, and hurt feelings.
A new relationship is exciting. You want to spend every moment together. But maintain some perspective. If your relationship has a solid footing, it will be much stronger in the long run.
5. Be Supportive without Enabling
Have you ever heard of a "dry drunk"? This is someone who is sober, but hasn't done the emotional work to transcend their addiction. They still exhibit the same negative patterns and behavior, even though they no longer drink.
As such, they are prone to selecting partners who enable them. Learn about these phenomena so you can avoid becoming co-dependent. Learn the difference between emotional support and enabling.
Dry drunks are usually not good candidates for relationships, but they may hide their baggage well.
6. Consider Al-Anon Meetings
Did you know that along with Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a companion program for families and friends of alcoholics? It's called Al-Anon, and it can be extremely beneficial for navigating your relationship with a recovering-alcoholic partner.
Meeting up with others who are in the same situation can help you understand your partner's behavior. Fellow Al-Anon members will commiserate with your unique problems and share advice and wisdom.
Dating A Recovering Alcoholic Isn't Impossible
Dating a recovering alcoholic isn't the easiest undertaking, but it can work. Be cautious, don't rush into anything, and be open with your partner. Those qualities will serve you in good stead as you deepen your connections and relationship.
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