Newly sober? Then, like so, so many others before you, you are probably already on the lookout for a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Ideally, you will give yourself some time in sobriety to get your feet under you and focus on your own recovery before you dip your feet in the dating pool. However, eventually you will spot that special person across the room at a meeting- your eyes meet, maybe they ask where the coffee is, and like any good alcoholic or addict, you are already envisioning your engagement photos and planning a trip to the hardware store to make them a house key. Before you get too far ahead of yourself, consult this handy list of DOs and DON’Ts for dating in recovery!

  • DO:
    Talk to SOMEONE about it first. Your sponsor, or someone with more time than you who is working a solid program. We are not the arbiters of anyone’s sex conduct, so no one should be giving you ultimatums or strict rules when it comes to your dating life, but getting an outside perspective (particularly from someone who we have hopefully given insight to about our past relationships) just might change your mind.
  • DON’T:
    Move too quickly. Most of us have ZERO idea what normal dating looks like. To help you out (and believe me, this was groundbreaking for me too), it is perfectly acceptable (and even ideal) to go on SEVERAL dates with someone before taking it to a more, *ahem*, physical, level. Also, don’t hang out EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. right off the bat. Codependency almost always ends in disaster.
  • DO:
    Be open to dating outside your “type”. Let’s be real, most of us come into recovery with a fairly skewed perception of what we are looking for in terms of a possible relationship. As with everything else, we tend to think we know what is best for us, when our ideas usually lead to a total trainwreck. Learning to trust our higher power and keep an open mind is key here.
  • DON’T:
    Bring your relationship into meetings. It’s a wonderful thing to be walking the same path as someone, but meetings are for recovery. When you are in a meeting, you should be focused on being of service and hearing a message- not making out with your S/O in the back row. It’s distracting to others and diminishes your own recovery.
  • DO:
    Maintain your own life outside of your relationship. It is VERY easy to get pulled into the trap of making that other person your sole focus. You text all day, you hang out every night, you make no plans without the other, and the next thing you know, that person is your higher power. Tricky territory to be in, because should the relationship fail, you could be left feeling alone and isolated, and that is a bad place for an alcoholic or addict to be. So, enjoy the relationship, but continue to maintain your own life outside of it- make plans with friends, foster new friendships, do your step work, and chase a relationship with your higher power. I promise you, there is room for all those things in your life, and you will have a healthier sobriety and relationship as a result of it.
  • DON’T:
    Prey on the newcomer. This is a big one. If you have a decent amount of time sober, you have ZERO business chatting up that person who just walked into their first meeting. Use your best judgment, but if someone is struggling to “get this”, can’t stay sober, or hasn’t gotten their sober legs under them and started their step work, then you need to give them some time. You may feel a “connection”, but this is another area where trusting your HP comes in- if it’s meant for you, it will happen eventually, and you need to allow the other person to gain some traction in sobriety before pouncing on them like some sort of jungle cat.
  • *Disclaimer: Of course none of these are written anywhere. No one in recovery should be dictating how you conduct yourself in relationships. The above are just based off personal experience and observations, and things I have found to be helpful.*