Romantic Relationships in Recovery - Why You Should Avoid Them in Early Recovery

When you’re new to recovery, an important piece of advice to follow is sticking with members of your own sex. In AA and other fellowships, your sponsor should be someone the same gender as you. Most people advise that you avoid romantic relationships for at least one year after you become sober. Relationships in recovery can succeed, but experience shows that jumping into a relationship too soon is a common precursor to relapse.

relationships while getting sober

Relationships in Recovery and Vulnerability

The main reason why you should at first avoid relationships in recovery can be summed up in one word: vulnerability. In early recovery, living a sober life is brand new to you, and it brings a rollercoaster of emotions that are difficult to handle. You’re just beginning to build a solid foundation in sobriety, and you have a lot to learn. Without drugs or alcohol, you’re very vulnerable until you develop new, healthy habits and coping mechanisms.

While relationships in recovery (and in general) can be beautiful and fun, they can also bring heartbreak and pain. When you’re in early recovery, your vulnerability means that any pain you experience from a relationship can hit you much harder. You’ll be challenged to deal with complicated, strong emotions, and you already have enough of that in early recovery without being in a relationship. Move too quickly, and you’ll be threatening your own recovery.

Relationships in Recovery and Relapse

If you’re serious about your sobriety, you don’t want to do anything that could make it harder on yourself than it already is, which is why it’s recommended to wait so long before considering a romantic relationship. A relationship also puts you in greater danger of relapse because it causes you to put focus, time, and attention on another person. In early recovery, your focus should be entirely on yourself and your sobriety. It requires all of your dedication to build a healthy lifestyle and to build up your self-confidence.

How to Deal with Relationships in Recovery

Anyone who has your best interests at heart will want you to focus on your recovery and won’t pressure you to start a relationship before you’re ready. If you are already in a relationship at the time you get sober, things can be a little trickier. You need to determine if that relationship is worth saving, and if it is, you and your partner need to move slowly and work on repairing yourselves before you try to repair the relationship. Your partner may have their own issues to deal with, such as codependency. Any loving and supportive partner will not make you feel guilty for taking time to strengthen your recovery.

No matter what, remember this: If you’re not satisfied with yourself and your life, then you’re not ready to share your life with another person in a romantic way.


  1. Gary Gene Belcourt says

    Back in the 70's when I finally stayed stopped, Older members would tell stories of the "way it used to be" Five (5) years was the norm in California. It seems they were willing to go to any lengths.

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