How Long Should You Be Sober Before Dating?

Dating in sobriety is a controversial topic. Individuals with long-term sobriety often tout the advice of not dating at all during their first year sober. But there are no guidelines to be found in the Twelve Steps or Twelve Traditions. 

But just because it isn’t strictly forbidden doesn’t mean there isn’t a good reason to hold off before entering the dating world. So how long should you wait? It depends on a few key factors.

If you have questions about your recovery journey, The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation may be the right place for you. Contact us today and discover how our sober living environment can support your goals of sobriety and a fulfilling life.

What’s the Danger in Dating Right Away?

Dating too early can quickly set up a newcomer to fail in their goal to remain abstinent. Some of the most obvious dangers of starting dating right away are:

  • Putting yourself in risky situations for relapse (like a bar, nightclub, or party)
  • Getting distracted from working on your recovery
  • Suffering negative feelings after a date or relationship doesn’t work out
  • Dating somebody who doesn’t understand addiction and could encourage you to drink or use
  • Dating somebody else in early recovery who relapses back into full-blown addiction

Any one of these situations can increase the risk of a newcomer relapsing just when their recovery begins.

In Early Sobriety, Put Yourself First

When you’re first transitioning from a life of substance use to a life of recovery, you need to keep a strong commitment to self-work. Working the steps with a sponsor, attending meetings, and finding a sober social network are of the utmost importance. These are the components of your recovery that have the best chance of keeping you sober.

If you start dating too soon, you risk neglecting this work in favor of a romantic pursuit. Even if you start out dating with the best intentions, it’s all too easy to get swept up in romantic feelings and push your self-work to the side.

Work the Steps

The solution to this dilemma is often a year without relationships, but time alone isn’t a good indication of how you’ve improved yourself and your spiritual condition. 

Instead, before dating, you should work all twelve steps with a sponsor at least once. This ensures that you’ve worked hard to set right your past, taken a detailed personal inventory, and committed yourself to helping others and constant spiritual maintenance.

The steps are guidelines for living, teaching you to be a better and more compassionate person. They can teach you to be a better partner and friend, while being kinder to yourself, as well. These qualities can help you to choose healthier relationships that allow you to flourish in your recovery.

When You Date, Make Room for Recovery

Ultimately, choosing when to date in recovery is a personal decision, and many will forego any advice to hold off. The important thing to remember is to hold space for your recovery alongside your relationship and have your friends in the program keep you accountable.

So long as you keep up with your recovery, dating can be an amazing experience when you’re clean and sober.

Stay Accountable at Sanctuary Recovery

Sanctuary Recovery Foundation offers affordable sober living to provide that extra support when it’s needed most. Contact us today to learn about our locations in beautiful coastal South Carolina and keep your sobriety on track during this critical time.