Are you currently dating a recovering alcoholic? Is this the first time you have found yourself in a relationship with someone who cannot drink – even in social situations? Do you find yourself confused at times about how to interact with this person because you fear causing them discomfort? If you’ve recently begun dating a recovering alcoholic, there are a few key things that you should keep in mind to help things go as smoothly as possible.
Learn as Much as You Can
You may think that you understand all there is to know about alcoholism, even if you or a loved one hasn’t gone through the recovery process on your own. On the surface, things are deceptively simple – a person is choosing to rid their lives of alcohol for the betterment of everyone around them. It’s much deeper than that, though, and often involves a life filled with choice and temptation.
By learning as much as you can about alcoholism, you’ll be able to both deal with and support that person through the best and worst of times. Some people are connected to people in recovery choose to attend support groups as part of their own routine of self-care. This might be something you might want to consider.
Be Open and Honest
One of the best ways to get close to someone is also helpful when it comes to dating a recovering alcohol. Let that person know that you’re always there to talk whenever they need and that you won’t judge. Let them know that they can always share thoughts and experiences with you, no matter what. The reverse is true – if you’re hesitant about dating a recovering alcoholic, let that person know so that you can work through it together.
Depending on how long an alcoholic has been in recovery, it is very likely that they may still be attending meetings at support groups like Alcoholic’s Anonymous on a regular basis. It’s important to keep in mind that Alcoholic’s Anonymous isn’t just for the alcoholic him or herself – it was also designed for children, spouses and yes – even significant others. If you know that your special someone is headed out for a meeting, consider going with them. Not only will it help to deepen your understanding of what they’re truly going through, but it will also help you deal with some of the related issues yourself. Making that type of commitment can only serve to strengthen the relationship that you’re currently building.
When a person is a recovering alcoholic, the chances are high that they’re tempted to pick up right where they left off fairly often. As a result, try to limit the amount of alcohol that you drink in front of that person. Exactly how much limiting you have to do, however, will depend on the person. Some people may ask you not to drink in front of them at all. Others will let you decide, at which point you should still try to be as mindful as you possibly can. This means allowing the person you are with to own their own recovery and not try to “fix them”.
They Aren’t “Just” A Recovering Alcoholic
Perhaps the most important tip that you can use when dating a recovering alcoholic is to remember that they are much more than just that particular label. Though alcoholism is a very important issue and the process of recovery is a hugely important one, the chances are very high that those weren’t the qualities that attracted you to that person in the first place. Maybe they’re a talented writer or other type of creative personality. Perhaps they’re exceedingly good at their job or are a loving, kind and caring individual.
Just remember that the person you’re dating is a recovering alcoholic, but they’re also a great deal more than that. Focusing on those other qualities will only help you build a much stronger and more satisfying relationship overall.
Your decision to date someone in recovery from alcoholism speaks to your ability to love the total person. Alcoholism is a disease in every real sense. Some couples find it helpful to work with a therapist who is trained in helping people find healthy ways of integrating recovery into the relational dynamic. This can be a positive way to help explore options in a safe, affirming and confidential environment.