How to Talk to Someone I Just Started Dating About My Recovery

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How to Talk to Someone I Just Started Dating About My Recovery

When you are in recovery and begin dating again, you can expect your sobriety to come up in conversation eventually. For example, you may be out on a date, and your partner may ask you why you did not order a drink. Or they may wonder why you turned down an invitation to a party where heavy substance use will be present. The thought of addressing your recovery with someone new can be very intimidating and can make you feel very vulnerable. 

Perhaps this vulnerability even causes you to hesitate to get back into the dating world. There are ways that you can go about this conversation in a positive way. It is also important to remember that it is entirely up to you regarding how much you share and when you decide to share this information. 

Picking the Right Time 

You are not required to tell your partner the entire story of your recovery on your very first date or even in the first few weeks of dating. If the question of why you are not drinking does happen to come up before you are comfortable talking about your recovery journey, it is okay to provide a different answer. It can be short and simple and leave little room for follow-up questions. Some examples include:

  • “I’m not drinking because I don’t like how I feel when I consume alcohol.”
  • “I’m not drinking because I have to drive later.”
  • “I’m not drinking because I have to be up early tomorrow and don’t want to be hungover.”
  • “I’m not drinking because I’m trying to improve my health.” 
  • “I’m not drinking because I want to be fully present and aware during our date.”

It is also crucial to remember that you do not owe the details of your recovery journey to just anybody. If this is a casual date with someone that you do not plan on seeing again in the future, then you probably do not need to reveal anything to them about your sobriety. Wait until you are in a relationship with someone you are serious about and see a possible future with. 

Once you have picked the right time, you will also want to pick the right setting for this conversation. A loud and crowded restaurant might not be the best place. It would be best to pick somewhere more private where you both can talk easily without having to worry about being overheard or interrupted. 

Share Only What You Want To

When you do choose to tell the story, remember that it is totally up to you what details you reveal. You do not necessarily need to get into the nitty-gritty details of what things were like when you were in active addiction — or the trauma associated with it — if you are not comfortable with that. Instead, you can focus more on the steps you took to get sober and how getting sober has benefitted your life. 

Since this may end up affecting your partner at some point, you will want to be clear with what you are and are not comfortable with. For example, are you comfortable going to a bar or attending a party with them where alcohol will be present? Are you comfortable with them having a drink or smoking in front of you? These are all things that need to be discussed in order to determine whether or not the relationship can continue in a healthy way. If your partner truly supports you, they will want to know anything they can do to encourage you along your recovery journey and what to avoid doing to prevent triggering you

After you share your story, allow your partner to ask any questions they may have. Try to answer these questions as honestly as possible, as this will help ensure that you are both on the same page and that nothing will come up in the future that may surprise your partner. 

Some example questions they may ask include: 

  • How long have you been sober? 
  • Are there certain things that are triggering for you?
  • What sort of treatment plan are you following? 
  • Are you attending support group meetings, and if so, when? 

Accepting Your Partner’s Response 

If your partner is right for you and your recovery, they will be receptive to your recovery journey and willing to move forward with your relationship. In some cases, this information could, unfortunately, be a deal breaker for some people. If this is the case, it is better to know now than when you are already fully invested in the relationship where the breakup will be much more painful. 

It can seem awkward or intimidating to talk to someone you recently started dating about your recovery journey. It can be a tricky subject to approach. It’s entirely up to you when you decide to share and what details you feel comfortable sharing. While this conversation probably shouldn’t occur the very first week of dating, you don’t want to put it off until you’re completely and emotionally invested in the relationship. Try to be as honest as possible, and don’t forget to allow your partner to ask any questions that they may have. This can help ensure that you’re both on the same page and committed. While in recovery, you want your partner to be fully supportive of your sobriety. If you are currently struggling with substance use disorder or how to cope, our team at The Kimberly Center can help. Call (855) 452-3683 to learn more. 

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