Love addiction is a tricky thing. You can convince yourself that you just love…
Dating in Recovery: The Complexities of Relationships in Rehab
Rehab is a time in which you are learning to cope with the ups and downs of life without turning to substances. It may also be a time in which any new relationships you form can have an impact on your recovery. If you are compelled to continually be in a relationship and are always falling head over heels over someone new, you may have a problem with love addiction.
It can be tempting to form new relationships in rehab. Building a support network is part of recovery, and it may seem like the strongest support you could possibly have is by forming a partnership with someone who has the same goals. But there is a lot to learn about living life sober, and jumping into a new relationship can distract you from learning this new way of life.
Why Dating in Recovery Requires Caution
In early recovery, you are taught to stay away from a drink, drug or a substitute one day at a time. Many substances and behaviors can be considered substitutes, including love and sex. If you are compelled to form romantic relationships and find it very uncomfortable to not have a partner, you may need to consider that you could have a problem with love addiction.
The time you spend in rehab is an important time in your life. You are learning how to face the ups and downs of life without turning to substances, or to behaviors that could be in any way addicting. It’s not a good time to turn your energy and focus onto someone else.
One of the messages you probably hear in early recovery is that you should be very cautious about dating. You may even be told that you should avoid dating or forming relationships for at least a year. If the thought of not being in a relationship for a year makes you feel panicked, there is a good chance that love addiction is one of the challenges that you need to address in rehab and in aftercare programs or support groups.
Using Love as a Drug
When you are drawn to the euphoria that comes with falling in love and want to continually repeat this feeling, you may be using love as a drug. Even though you are in the process of giving up alcohol or drugs, you are still looking outside yourself for someone or something to make you feel better.
While you were using alcohol or drugs, you were attempting to avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings, including feelings of loneliness or rejection. If you also have a problem with love addiction, these feelings will become even more intense when you no longer have the numbing effects of substances.
Whether or not you are actually addicted to love, dating in rehab can trigger intense emotions that are tough to deal with in early recovery. These emotions can distract you from the work of changing your behaviors and your coping mechanisms and can put you at risk of relapse if you experience rejection or abandonment. Another thing to keep in mind is if a new partner picks up a drink or a drug, it will be much harder for you to resist.
Give yourself the gift of time to focus on your own recovery. If you think you might have a problem with love addiction, let your sponsor or an addiction counselor know. Turning to love or sex to avoid dealing with pain and problems is just another form of addiction.
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