If you are in recovery, it’s normal that at some point you’ll want to think about dating. Once you meet someone you like and the relationship looks like it might have some traction, you’ll start thinking about how to tell the new person you are dating about your recovery.
Before you sit down to have “the talk” about your recovery, take a breath and a step back. Think about what you want the person you’re dating to know and when you want to share this information.
Your Recovery = Your Choice About What to Share
There are no “rules” about exactly what you should share with the new person you’re dating. You can say as much or as little as you feel comfortable revealing. Keep in mind that the other person you are speaking to will have his or her own thoughts, beliefs, and possibly prejudices about substance use, addiction, and people in recovery.
Tips for Sharing Your Recovery Story
Here are some suggestions to help you have a conversation with someone you are seeing about your recovery:
Choose a time when the two of you won’t be interrupted.
Shut off cell phones and other devices. If it feels comfortable, sit in a park or find a coffee shop where you can focus on what’s being said.
Start off by telling the other person something positive.
You don’t want the person you’re dating to think that your conversation is going to be about something negative. Start by saying how much you have enjoyed spending time with him or her and that you now feel that you can share some personal information that is important to you. Then say, “I’m a recovering X addict. I’ve been in recovery for [x] [months, years].”
Follow up with examples of how your recovery affects your life.
Your friend has no idea how “your” recovery impacts your life on a daily basis. You can share information about what that looks like. For example:
- If you’re a recovering alcoholic, can other people drink in front of you or is that a no-go?
- If you’re a recovering drug addict, are there certain neighborhoods you need to avoid?
- Are you triggered by certain sights, sounds, or smells?
- Are you going to 12-step meetings regularly, which limits the free time you have?
- Are you enrolled in MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) for opioid addiction?
What Happens Next?
After you reveal your recovery news, try to answer your significant other’s questions as honestly as you can.
The question you’ll really want to have answered is whether this information about yourself is a deal breaker. This is not something you have any control over, unfortunately.
Hopefully, this news won’t be something that ends up being something that stops a promising relationship in its tracks. Many people know someone who is struggling with substance abuse, since drug and alcohol addiction are quite common and there has been a growing trend of people sharing their recovery stories publicly. The news about your recovery, although it should be revealed, may not be a big shock after all.