Women and men in recovery routinely worry about their current or future relationships with partners or spouses. What does a relationship in recovery look like? Whether one is currently in a relationship, married, dating, single, widowed, women and men in recovery increase their likelihood of staying sober when they prepare for sexual health skills in dating and relationships.

Everyone in recovery must eventually face either rebuilding a current relationship, building a newfound love, or accepting their limitations and capacity for love and connection.  Single men and women often experience similar fears and concerns about meeting, dating and or falling in love in recovery. Men and women in recovery will increase their likelihood of staying sober when they learn sexual health skills in dating and relationships.

It is a myth that staying sober and beginning the recovery process will automatically result in dating and relationship skills. Sexual health in recovery includes looking at sex/drug linked relationship patterns in our addiction and understanding the risk for relapse if these patterns are not changed. It is important to explore our readiness for dating, or what recovery in our marriage or current relationships looks like.

10 common myths about dating relationships and dating in recovery:

  1. Being in recovery and staying sober will change the type of person that I am attracted to.
  2. Being in recovery will give me a clear picture of how to recognize an unhealthy attraction.
  3. Being in recovery will keep me open minded and ready for feedback from others about my unhealthy attractions.
  4. Being in recovery will protect me from having unhealthy emotional attractions.
  5. Being in recovery will give me the proper guidelines for selecting a good relationship.
  6. If you are single, saying clean and sober for a year before doing any dating is the best approach to love and sexual relationships in recovery.
  7. I can learn what I need to know about dating from books sponsors and friends.
  8. I can learn what I need to know about dating fairly quickly without making the same blunders over and over again.
  9. Dating in too early in recovery is a dangerous relapse risk.
  10. Being in recovery is a good short cut for learning dating and sexual relationship skills.

Sexual health in recovery is a time to explore and talk about human sexuality and sexual health in a respectful and informed way. We encourage everyone to be as open and honest as they can be. They are not required to discuss anything about their current or past sexual behavioral that would be uncomfortable to discuss.

In treatment we start to look back on our history of dating, falling in love, and the link with our use of drugs and alcohol. We explore question like: What is a date? What was the best date that you had? How did our alcohol /drug use affect our dating and sexual relationships?  It is important to remember that self-reflection is an important tool in this process and can be uncomfortable at times, leaving us feeling vulnerable.  During this process we are reminded that healthy sexual relationships in recovery is an important aspect of one’s overall recovery, physical and emotional health, and contentment in life.

This was taken in part from ‘Sexual Health in Drug and Alcohol Treatment’ by Douglas Braun-Harvey.