Written By: Katie Schipper
Romantic Relationships in Sobriety Can Be Healthy!
No, but seriously. Wait.
That guy/girl/whoever you met in your treatment center/halfway house/that meeting that you can’t live without? You can. Just wait. The crazy thing about waiting is that you might find out your tastes aren’t quite what you thought they were. Thirty, or sixty, or ninety days off your lifetime of smoking/snorting/shooting drugs and drinking? Yeah, you probably don’t know what you want!
So wait. You might grow (shocker!). You might change. You might actually realize there’s something to be said for getting to know yourself and your inherent value. You might learn that what’s inside you is so much bigger and so much better than an attachment to another human.
Before we start new relationships, we have to fix our old ones!
First We Must learn to Love Ourselves
That doesn’t necessarily mean wait a year. After all, a year is just an arbitrary, man-made measure of time. Some people might get well before a year is up. Others, most others, probably need well over a year to undo a lifetime of diseased, insane, chemically affected thinking and acting.
It isn’t the year so much that matters, but rather the time you’ve given to the two most vital, lasting, and important relationships in your life: the one you have with God/Higher Power/the Universe/etc. and the one you have with Yourself.
Here’s the thing, we’re phenomenally adept at bulls**ting ourselves. Nowhere is this more apparent than when we are describing why, contrary to all popular evidence, we’re ready to be in a relationship when we’ve done no meaningful work on rebuilding the ONLY relationships that matter!
It’s a cliché, but it doesn’t matter because it’s true! We can’t fully love someone without learning how to love ourselves. That doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of love, or that we don’t care about others, or anything like that. It means that until we’ve built a solid foundation of self-esteem and self-love (spoiler alert: that doesn’t happen overnight, or in a month, or in three months) we’ll use the other person to fill a void, or feel better about ourselves.
All of these things that we do in addiction recovery programs, all of the work, and soul-searching, and praying, and meditation – it’s designed to connect us to a God of our own understanding. Guess what? This God already lives within each of us. If we seek it in another person before we seek it in ourselves, we’re doing ourselves a huge injustice. We usually pay for it, too. Maybe not right away, but any relationship that’s put before those two most vital relationships will eventually crumble.
Safe relationships? Whatever happened to safe sex?
Let the Right Relationship Present Itself
As for the actual steps for getting into a healthy relationship? There aren’t any. If you can honestly and earnestly say that you have a solid relationship with yourself and God, then chances are you won’t be actively seeking a relationship. Usually, faith that the right relationship will present itself in your life goes hand-in-hand with those two things.
The beautiful thing about unreservedly loving yourself is that you get to a point where you won’t settle for less than you deserve. You’ll have this gut instinct that explains what this means for you. So, if you want to get into a healthy romantic relationship, the first thing you should do is wait.