Dating in Recovery – a Healthy Timeline of Events
Dating during recovery is overwhelming. You have just learned how to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself, and now you need to do it with a partner.
Don’t let it worry you, though! Dating in recovery is a big step to long term relationships built on healthy love and trust. Below, we’ll go over some healthy habits to establish, as well as a detailed dating timeline to abide by.
Develop Healthy Habits
You should have already started to develop healthy habits while in your individual or group counseling sessions. These include patience and honesty, with yourself and others. Additional healthy habits include:
● Taking care of yourself physically and mentally by working out and checking in
with yourself mentally.
● Regularly attending counseling sessions or meetings to check in with your
support system and stay on track.
● Maintaining a healthy routine each day with your family and friends.
● Making friends with a wide variety of individuals, of both sexes.
● Valuing your inner core values and making sure you stay in tune with them.
Want to know more about developing healthy habits? Read our previous blog post here.
Healthy dating timeline
Once you have established a set of healthy habits to work off of, you can create a healthy dating timeline. This is something you will reference often when entering the dating world. It keeps you on track and makes sure you’re not slipping back into negative behavior while you attempt to build a strong relationship with someone new.
Below, we’ll break down the first few months of dating and offer some tips on appropriate connections at each stage.
During month 1, you want to get to know your potential partner without any physical intimacy. This will be difficult because you’re used to instant gratification. Now you’re focused on long term gratification, though.
Keep phone contact to a bare minimum during this stage. This means limited
talking on the phone and no texting. Focus on meeting in person in public,
interacting over a meal or an activity you both enjoy.
This is a time to get to know each other on a friendly level. Date other people,
and when you get together, don’t have serious conversations about relationships.
Keep things light and fun.
Additionally, don’t rely on each other to pay for expenses or provide
transportation. This helps stave off the intimacy until you have a chance to
decide if this relationship is something you both want.
When you reach month 2, you can start to explore physical affection with one another, but you should still abstain from physical intimacy. This stage is when you can start thinking about dating exclusively, but don’t let that rush you yet. You’re still getting to know one another.
Phone contact can increase to a few times a week, with email and even a few text messages.
You can begin to explore each other’s homes and personal spaces. Take this step slow, because you don’t want intimacy to occur quite yet. You’re getting to know each other’s environments on a personal level but you still have some connections to make first.
You can hold hands, hug, and kiss one another, but there should be no intercourse of any kind. Start spending a little more money on personal dates and make sure to invest in each other’s time and values. Continue building a healthy, safe bond together.
You’ve made it to month 3 – congratulations! By now, you and your potential partner have gotten to know each other on a personal level. You’ve interacted in public and you’ve explored each other's environment. Furthermore, you have established a healthy connection outside of the bedroom, which is the foundation for any successful relationship.
Now, you’re ready to finally explore physical intimacy together. Take it slow, though, and remember that honesty and an open-mind are important here and will make sure you aren’t slipping back into addiction.
At this point, you should cease dating other people, if you haven’t done so already. Then, have a discussion together about intercourse and what it means to both of you.
Disclose addiction information, sexual history, and any STDs you have or had in the past.
Have intercourse together when you both agree on timing, and be sure to use protection each time.
Take it slow, but begin spending nights with one another and even exploring new places on small, short weekend trips away.
It is important to note that every relationship is different, and therefore requires unique attention. The above information is not set in stone but a general guide to teach you the healthy progression of a relationship overtime.
No matter how you proceed through the first months of a relationship, it is important to keep an eye on the future while staying consistent with recovery.
After three months of dating, you and your partner have only just begun what will hopefully be a long-term relationship. Be open and honest with each other at all times and let the relationship take its natural course, with an always mindful eye on your addiction and past behaviors.
Are you struggling with addiction and not sure where to start, especially with dating? We can help you.
CDA Counseling has been serving individuals and families in the Coeur d’Alene area for years. We offer personalized counseling services to help you make sense of your addition and heal your wounds.
Want to learn more? Contact us today, we’d love to meet with you and help you get your life back on track!