Romantic relationships are not necessarily a part of every recovery journey, and if or when an individual decides to pursue a romantic relationship in their sober lives is a personal matter. However, if an individual has been developing the skills necessary to pursue romance in recovery, it is still important to ensure that the development of these relationships keeps an individual’s sober goals still in mind. Each relationship will have its own challenges and nuance. However, there are strategies to help develop these romantic relationships with the most support and understanding possible for each person’s continued sobriety.
Deciding if Romance Is Right For You
Romantic relationships are complicated, and there will be stress, change, and uncertainty when it comes to any kind of relationship. An individual will be tasked with making compromises and working alongside others to best nurture these relationships. Ensuring that an individual is prepared with their own strategies, sober practices, and mindset before pursuing these relationships is necessary.
Jumping into these relationships too soon can be met with unnecessary challenges and tumultuous romantic life. Deciding that an individual wants to continue focusing on their own sobriety, personal life, or overcoming co-occurring disorders is always valid. Determining when an individual is prepared for this journey is a profound and important decision and should never come at the expense of their sober efforts.
Developing a Healthy Relationship
There is no relationship that is “easy” to navigate, and employing a number of strategies alongside a partner is necessary. While feelings of anxiety, depression, and other challenges of overcoming addiction may still be prevalent, it is never impossible to pursue romance in sobriety, nor is anyone somehow “undeserving” of unconditional love and affection.
Be Willing to Involve a Partner
Recovery and addiction affect a wide array of people. For those continuing to balance their sobriety with their personal lives, it is important to be willing to involve a partner in active recovery efforts. Romantic relationships can be amazing supports throughout the recovery process. Being open to exploring new outlets alongside a partner, and even engaging in group or family therapy together, can all help to continue strengthening these relationships while providing key resources, education, and more to romantic partners so they can best support an individual whenever needed.
Communication is key in any kind of relationship. However, a willingness to open up about an individual’s journey with addiction and sobriety is necessary. For some, this can mean not only discussing their history and sober goals but also introducing the idea of sobriety and recovery to a romantic partner. These conversations can be difficult, so being prepared to process feelings of shame, guilt, or other challenges while communicating these needs and the importance of sobriety is essential.
For others, conversations about sobriety can come in the form of apologizing for actions taken while under the influence and the myriad of ways in which addiction and mental health disorders have affected one another. This is particularly prevalent if an individual is rekindling previous relationships that were affected by the use of drugs or alcohol. Having regular communication strategies and making an effort to communicate daily through various mediums such as daily phone calls, texts, emails, or regular dinners or meetings can all be great ways to ensure that communication stays open and that each person is talking with their partner and furthering these relationships.
Set Clear Boundaries in the Relationship
While romantic relationships can birth newfound feelings of belonging and amazing moments of happiness, it is still important to establish clear boundaries with romantic partners. This is essential for empowering those in recovery to continue pursuing personal interests and aspects of their identity outside of the relationships that can further inform their sober lives. However, partners of those in recovery can benefit from establishing their own boundaries, allowing them their own time and space to engage in effective self-care and providing a moment of respite from their role as a support.
Having established schedules and ensuring that no individual is compromising their own interests or routine for the sake of the relationship is crucial for the relationship’s and each individual’s mental health. These boundaries not only facilitate the development of each person’s identity outside the relationship but also encourages those in recovery to create a comprehensive, wide support network rather than relying on a single individual.
Learn to Celebrate
Romantic relationships are partnerships through both good and bad, and strong relationships will be able to emerge from trying situations stronger than ever. Learning to celebrate together can be instrumental in strengthening these bonds. It can be easy to overlook the small, but profound, accomplishments that each individual makes throughout their recovery. However, celebrating these accomplishments together can further reinforce these relationships.
For partners of those in recovery, it is equally as important to celebrate their own personal accomplishments, ensuring that their goals are equally as important, valued, and celebrated to create an equal and important dynamic to nurture these romantic relationships. Creating new celebration traditions in sobriety, establishing healthy celebratory practices, and tracking each step towards both partners’ goals can make for a truly transformed partnership in sobriety.
Developing a relationship in sobriety can be difficult, but we at Buena Vista Recovery are prepared to help you embrace the skills necessary for a sober life while building on the strategies needed to best nurture these relationships. Our community of professionals and peers alike is prepared to help you practice your best recovery strategies, all while incorporating your unique goals and loved ones into your recovery journey. We believe that family, friends, and loved ones can be amazing supports, with education and outpatient support further supporting you in your relationship journey. For more information on how we can help prepare you for romantic goals, or to further your sober ambitions, call to speak to us today at (480) 741-9414 or complete a contact form.