5 Reason to Stay Single in Early Recovery

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It is often suggested that during the early stages of recovery, and up to the first year, we do not get involved in any romantic relationships. This recommendation of course has some opposition, and is either one of these topics which do not get enough attention, or huge arguments break out over it! Therefore, I would like to start by saying that I believe that recovery is not one size fits all, and what might work for some or even most, will not work for all. There are always exceptions!

Nevertheless, I still believe that some suggestions and recommendations may give you a greater chance in achieving and maintaining sobriety because recovering alcoholics and addicts are especially vulnerable to these strong negative emotions as they are already dealing with something that is emotionally taxing – getting sober.

During the early stages of recovery, it is essential to remain focused on nurturing your recovery. So if you are finding yourself worried about the idea of recovering “single,” and you are rushing into finding a romantic relationship, first ask yourself, where does this feeling come from? Are there any abandonment issue that you have not dealt with? Are you objecting to this because you believe that you need someone in order to recover? Or, are you possibly holding on to old fears or motivations?

Most of the time, the opposition to being single in early recovery comes from some obvious, yet also very understandable drive that has nothing to do with a desire to become recovered, but our desire to be needed and wanted. By asking these simple questions, you may be able to examine your own feelings about these long standing preconceptions which in turn may help you see, that being single and keeping focus on yourself and your new recovery process is the most important.

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Many of our addictive behaviors are directly related to relationship issues as well as our natural desire for love, companionship, and intimacy. I know that for me, romantic relationships also became a tool to justify that I was OK as a person, and the wellness of the relationship was a huge basis of my self-worth! I believed that if I did not have a romantic love in my life than I had nothing. Furthermore, I had never been single before, and the mere thought of being single and sober petrified me!

However, we all know relationships can make life quite challenging, especially when we are dealing with many unhealthy habits that we have acquired while being dependent on alcohol.

Here are the 5 reasons why I believe staying single in early recovery may be beneficial to you:

1.    The relationship itself can become an addiction or a substitute to the addiction that you are trying to give up. This “replacement” could actually further perpetuate the cycle, and hinder your recovery. The stress and dysfunction of an unhealthy relationship can lead to the relationship’s demise, and dramatically increase the risk of relapse.

2.    New romantic relationships can bring on a fluctuating array of emotions. During those trying times, chances of relapsing are heightened. In addition, if the new partner is a drinker and you are not, that may prove to be a big challenge as you are trying to abstain. Moreover, if both of you are in recovery and one of you relapses, the chance of relapse is heightened again.

3.    New romantic relationships often take up lots of time, and may limit your time for creating a strong recovery network, going to meetings, reading recovery literature, and learning how to live an alcohol-free lifestyle.

4.    Getting sober is hard and it involves lots more than putting down the drink. Often we uncover many other issues that have lead us to the bottle. Remaining single gives us the best chance of staying focused on our recovery and avoiding adding other challenges.

5.    In early recovery, we often learn how to build up our self-esteem and self-worth as well as we learn how to value ourselves. By staying single, we can learn to have a healthy relationship with ourselves without depending on acceptance and love from others.

Developing a good relationship with ourselves first is a cornerstone of creating healthy relationships with others. This is where the saying, “You can’t truly love someone until you first love yourself” comes from. By dealing with your issues first and getting a good base in recovery, you are then gathering tools to be better equipped to deal with romantic relationships.

Of course, all this is not to say that new romantic relationships are detrimental to your recovery. However, it may be a good idea to give yourself some time to learn how to stay sober and live a sober life before rushing into a new relationship.


If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at sobercourage@gmail.com.

You may also find some great inspiration and support from all the awesome sober bloggers listed in the side bar under POSTS I LIKE and RECOVERY BLOGGERS, as well as Sober Courage page on Facebook and Sober Courage on Twitter.

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. soberwulf says:

    Love love LOVE this! And I completely agree. I got involved in a relationship right after I joined AA. Turns out this person preys on newcomers and ended up being one of the sicker ones! He put on a very charming act, however, to win me over. When the relationship started to spiral downward, I associated him with AA and decided I wanted my OLD life back. Being in that relationship was parallel to drinking – insanity. I relapsed, but regained control the next day and went back to AA. It took me several more months to untangle myself from the emotional/mental grip he had on me. I can honestly say it was one of the darkest times of my life. I am happily single now and 100% focused on myself and my recovery. I wish I would have listened to this very valuable advice! Thank you for posting this.
    Amy

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, glad to hear that you were able to get out of it! Yeah I had a unhealthy relationship during the four years I spent relapsing. I think it was just the cherry on top of the cake for me! Any time we had an argument I’d catch a resentment and drank at him. It was nuts. I think getting away from that relationship really help me see things in perspective. I remember people telling me to quit it, but of course I didn’t not listen. Ugh. Well, we all learn how we learn~!

      Thank you for stopping by! Sending BIG hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreeing to every single letter of your post. I did a nice projection of whatever it was on a friend. Send me reeling. I was lucky I had the time to sort it out and the friend had, after a wrong start kept his distance and allowed me to sort it out, partially with him. Man, falling in love is amazing, it is like an addiction. Very few of the things I projected upon him were actually founded in reality. Finding that out now. Aaah, can only tell you: it’s big and overwhelming. And yes, that is what biology does to have us make kids, if we were to wait till reality catches up with us there would be less children. 🙂 So it is a strong drive but indeed not very well suited in early addiction.
    Thank you for this clear post! 🙂
    xx, Feeling

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Totally agree, I could fall in love all the time, as well as fall out of it! It was definitely an addiction for me. At the same time I had no clue what love was – I only liked the high it gave me!
      In reality I had no idea how to love or have a relationship of any kind. I am still learning. I have been married for 7 years and the best thing we did was go into couples therapy and learn how to be a couple. Our therapist said that a healthy relationship is not putting two half people together to make one whole, it’s putting two whole people together to work as a team. – best advice EVER!!

      Thank for stopping by! HUGS.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa Neumann says:

    This title struck a cord with me. Not a great cord either. I had an affair in early sobriety, Ughhhh. The best gift I received were the words, “Stick with the woman.” What a mess I created for myself, my family. I am still healing from thinking a man (or a different man in my case) was the next answer to my troubles. Lesson learned.

    I came through the whole thing clean and sober, but I am one of the fortunate ones. Like you, I kept searching for the true beauty of life. Today I have many glimpses of this beauty. Sometimes I even get to spend a bunch of time there.

    Thanks for reminding me of yet another thing I have to be grateful for—a relationship with my Higher Self whom I call God.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am glad things worked out for you Lisa! Whoo hoo! Those beginnings can be so difficult to maneuver through, right! But we get through them somehow, and I am so glad too because I am not sure where I would be right now!

      Yes, I remember people telling me to stick with the women too, of course, I thought they were crazy, why would I even want to do that! Of course I didn’t know how to have a none romantic relationship either and it turned out that sticking with women was the best thing I did – I think I went to women’s meetings only for my entire first year!

      Thank you for stopping by! HUGS!

      Like

  4. sobercoachone says:

    Magz, excellent post. You’ve really hit on all the key and very important points on why getting into a relationship early in recovery can be a problem. For many, recovery is new. It’s a new world, with new people. Naturally we are looking to belong and attach ourselves, leaving the old life behind. But as you pointed out: ” This “replacement” could actually further perpetuate the cycle, and hinder your recovery”. Sober Coach Dave

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dave, thank you! Unfortunately or fortunately all this came from my own experience. I think learning to detach from depending on other people for emotional support was huge. And breaking, all the addictive cycles let me step back and take care of me and my recovery.

      Thanks for stopping by! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Anonymous says:

      Help me!! I need to get out of a relationship. I’m 65 days! I want to stay on this path but need out /away from him and don’t know how.

      Like

      1. I am sorry to hear, that’s a tough situation. Are you able to leave? Do you have anyone to stay with, maybe family? Of you’re in danger you can go to the local hospital or police station and they can help you out.

        I am sorry I don’t have any better advice. Congrats on 65 days. That’s a huge accomplishment! Hang in tight and the right thing to do will become clearer. Sending many hugs.

        Like

  5. sobercoachone says:

    Reblogged this on SoberCoach1 and commented:

    Magz, excellent post. You’ve really hit on all the key and very important points on why getting into a relationship early in recovery can be a problem. For many, recovery is new. It’s a new world, with new people. Naturally we are looking to belong and attach ourselves, leaving the old life behind. But as you pointed out: ” This “replacement” could actually further perpetuate the cycle, and hinder your recovery”. Sober Coach Dave

    Like

  6. Sober lonely femme lesbian says:

    Thanks for writing this. I’m 50 days sober and trying to keep it simple. It has been suggested to me to stay single the first year. I’m a woman and lesbian. I was going to gay men’s meetings and got a gay man as a sponsor because I fall in love with women straight or lesbian who are nice to me and willing to guide me. I’ve been making friends with women and falling in love with them all. Here in sf there are over 600 different mtgs. It gets confusing not being able to be friends without feeling like I’m in love and it’s the intimacy of physical contact I crave. I’m caught up in my self will and feelings and I don’t feel like I’ll make it a year to be honest. I’ve been in and out of the rooms for decades. Today I wanted to escape reality for the first time since getting sober. Being that it’s 1:15am, the tools I’m using are reading literature and googling articles online. Every day seems longer than the last and a year might as well be 1000 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t be so hard on yourself. This is a hard journey. The important part is that you are working on it! !o just hang in and keep moving forward! Sending big hugs!

      Like

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