Healthy Dating in Recovery

Dating is one way people desire closeness with another person. Looking for a new relationship is not always a wise decision in recovery. Learn how to discern whether it is possible for a person’s unique situation to experience healthy dating in recovery.

Dating in Recovery

Experts almost universally agree major changes or shifts in life within the first year of sobriety (including dating) can make staying sober very difficult. There are many reasons this is the case. The primary objective needs to be on good self care. A new relationship can be a distraction from those good efforts. While still learning about oneself without the use of drugs, alcohol, gambling or other ‘drug’ of choice, it may mean an individual is not in the best place to judge who is a suitable partner.

Dating Risks

It is important to note it is easier to become addicted to the ‘high’ of a new relationship or even sex for people in recovery. Thinking too much of a person while in recovery can be distracting even if it is a healthy part of relationship development. Sexual addiction can become a substitute for the ‘high’ of a previous addiction and be very detrimental to progress in recovery.

Waiting to Date

Ending a relationship, interpersonal conflict and other issues may arise within a relationship which can lead to relapse if a person is not careful. Some of the reasons why it may be important to wait to date may include:

  • Dating is an unhealthy coping mechanism which may end up replacing addiction
  • Oversharing can occur where a person is pouring out troubles and problems to a person who cannot handle all the new information which may result in hiding addiction past from the person
  • The feeling of not wanting to live without another person can be overwhelming. This may lead a person to develop a predicament where the person becomes so fixated on the dating partner it becomes essential for survival. Out of desperation, the individual clings to the other person and develops poor relationship habits

Develop a Dating Plan

One of the best ways to work around relationship issues in recovery is to develop a list of healthy dating goals with therapeutic support people such as counselors or psychologists who can include some of the following in a plan:

  • Don’t date anyone who cannot be introduced to loved ones
  • Don’t date anyone who uses a person in recovery just for sexual intimacy
  • Focus on development of a long-term relationship
  • Find someone with shared interests and values
  • Date a person who sees the other’s value

It is best to start of slowly when dating people in recovery. It is important to focus on sobriety first and decide how to work into a healthy relationship. Long term, it is best to be with someone who is safe and comfortable to be around, a person who is a good influence and brings positivity to the relationship.


Relationships in recovery can be challenging, but manageable with the right tools and resources. The Villa can support your journey through recovery. Call us to find out how we can help you get on track with your goals.