Dating a drug addict, as with dating anyone, comes with pros and cons. Con: Lack of trust. Drug addicts, even if they have been clean for months or years, are difficult to trust. For part of their lives, addicts have been consumed with obtaining drugs and finding money to pay for them. Even if they swear they're clean, trusting them completely is going to take time. Kayla Snell To recovering or present addicts, drugs are no. 1, the top priority, the best things in the world. Their bond with drugs will be stronger than their bond with you, because drugs are easier. Studio Firma. Even the best relationships are sometimes messy and chaotic, but drugs are an immediate escape and a quick way to temporary nirvana. There are, of course, exceptions to this.
In the early months of recovery, you’ve given up a lot — your go-to coping strategy, your social network, your approach to life. It’s natural to look to the comfort of new love to counteract the loneliness. Relationships can be part of healing, but finding healthy partners who support your recovery is a challenge.
While the guidelines for dating in recovery are similar to the rules of engagement for “normies,” a few rules are critical to your success: #1 Be a stranger. Dating carries obvious risks. You’re sharing personal information with someone you don’t know well who may or may not be who they say they are. Safety can be of even greater concern for the 40 million people dating online where it’s easy to hide behind anonymity, make up personas and date multiple people at the same time.
“Safety should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind,” says Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, and assistant clinical professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “In this digital age, we mostly know nothing about our courting partner.” As a couples therapist, Dr. Tatkin has seen many online dating success stories. But, like other ways of meeting someone, he says it’s a “roll of the dice.” It’s important to carefully vet a prospective mate and avoid feeling too familiar too quickly.
Ask yourself: Would you feel confident introducing this person to your friends or family? Does the person show signs of addictive thinking or behavior?
Does this person share your interests and have the characteristics you’re looking for in a partner?
“There is no way to know someone right away,” Dr. Tatkin warns. “There’s no forcing this process of knowing, only ways of fooling ourselves. It takes approximately a year to know another person as separate from our fantasies about them and us.
So the proper etiquette is to be a stranger, which is what you are.” #2 Beware of nature’s love cocktail. Compounding the fact that we know very little about a date, our brains release a powerful cocktail of arousing chemicals, compromising our judgment and making us more vulnerable to danger.
We are at “hormone sea,” as Dr. Tatkin describes it, at the mercy of chemicals that drive us to procreate. For those in early recovery from addiction, it’s especially important to . Standard advice is to hold off on dating for the first year in recovery, largely because relationships take your focus off of your own healing and, with their emotional highs and lows, are a leading cause of relapse.
As your brain and body heal from drug abuse, it can be tempting to replace the high of alcohol and other drugs with the flood of chemicals like norepinephrine, dopamine, phenylethylamine (a natural amphetamine), estrogen and testosterone that create the “high” of new romantic love.
For some, relationships and sex emerge as an . Some may find themselves attracted to someone who is also struggling with addiction, emotionally unavailable or abusive. See infatuation for what it is — a powerfully intoxicating chemical cocktail in your brain — and resist jumping to conclusions that destiny brought you together or you’ve finally found your soul mate after just a few dates.
#3 Be the partner you would want to have. When conflict inevitably arises in a relationship, it’s easy to point the finger at prospective partners as being flawed and needing to change. If you find yourself being a magnet for all the wrong people or feeling “relationship challenged,” the path toward genuine intimacy may start with you.
“Most people are drawn to partners at their same level of emotional development,” says Neil Strauss, of The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships. “Instead of trying to ‘fix’ the other person, get help for what you can control: yourself.” Who you choose as a partner offers a wealth of insights into your own challenges.
What drew you to a given partner? Use what you discover to heal yourself and the relationship if it’s one worth investing in. “By working on your own emotional health, you’ll be able to meet someone at a higher level of emotional maturity and capability for love,” says Strauss.
#4 Be honest about who you are. Recovery is very personal, so should you open up about it with someone you barely know? If so, when? The answer depends on a variety of factors, including whether you think the relationship has potential, but as a general rule it’s wise to reveal your recovery right up front. But, warns Dr. Tatkin, “don’t go into detail unless asked. No one wants to hear about your trials and tribulations with your addictive past.” With 23 million people in recovery from addiction, there’s a good chance the person you’re dating also has been touched by addiction in some way.
Whether it’s your recovery or some other aspect of your personality or life experience, let a prospective partner get to know you for who you really are, not who you want to be or who you think they want you to be. “Your new courtship is an audition. You must be yourself but understand that you have no privileges with your stranger partner — yet,” Dr. Tatkin advises. “It’s good to let your new partner know who you are, including your annoying parts, as long as you rein in those annoying parts for a good amount of time.
If you’re a distancer, it may be a good idea to signal that early. If you are someone who tends to cling, that too may be good to announce fairly early. Telling someone something unattractive about yourself is different than acting out those unattractive or threatening behaviors.” #5 Assess your relationship potential. Once you’ve started getting to know someone, step back and consider whether the relationship is worth pursuing.
In his book Wired for Dating, Dr. Tatkin recommends assessing your relationship for these five characteristics: • Security — you protect one another, regardless of whether you’ve been on a couple of dates or have been together for years • Sensitivity — you recognize and respond to each other’s needs • Fairness — you quickly work to repair any hurts • Collaboration — you help one another learn about each other • True mutuality — you recognize that what’s good for one of you is good for the other If these principles are at work in your relationship, your relationship has a good chance of success, says Dr.
Tatkin. However, “if you find a dating relationship does not embody these principles, you have good grounds for calling it quits and moving on,” he writes. If you’ve spent a lot of time around people with addictions or other mental health issues (for example, growing up with an addicted parent or surrounding yourself with drug-using friends), it can be difficult to feel connected to people who are well. In early recovery, time spent figuring out who you really are is the best way to find someone to complement your sober life.
When the time is right, “go for it!” says Dr. Tatkin, but set a pace that works for you and your recovery. Sources:
best dating an addiction - 5 Signs You May Have An Online Dating Addiction
In working with the spouses and significant others of addicts, I’ve often heard it said, “I’d rather be an addict than love one.” While few people would ever walk eyes-wide-open into a chronic disease like addiction, the statement speaks to the confusion, loneliness and despair common not only among addicts but also the men and women who love them. A history of addiction doesn’t necessarily turn Mr./Mrs.
Right into Mr./Mrs. Wrong. In fact, addicts who are solid in their recovery can make excellent partners. They’ve waged a courageous battle, spending a great deal of time working to take care of and improve themselves.
But before you put yourself in a position to fall for an addict, there are a few things you need to know: #1 Love does not conquer all. For anyone considering dating an active addict, it is important to realize that love cannot conquer addiction. Addiction takes priority over everything – you, children, career, financial security, even one’s own freedom. Before diving into a relationship, find out if your prospective partner is actively using drugs or alcohol, or if they display addictive or compulsive patterns in other areas (e.g., gambling, work, sex, food or spending).
If you care about someone in active addiction, help them into treatment and hold off on turning a friendship into more until they’re grounded in their recovery. If they are in recovery, how long have they stayed sober? Are they actively working a program of recovery (e.g., participating in self-help support meetings, counseling or an aftercare program)? Someone with less than a year sober should stay focused on their recovery program, not dating. This guideline is designed to protect the addict as well as the people they might date.
In the earliest stages, most recovering addicts are trying to figure out who they are, what they want and how to be in a healthy relationship. Beyond the first year, the longer someone has maintained their sobriety the more secure you can feel that you’re choosing a partner who is healthy and whole. #2 Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease.
An estimated 40 to 60 percent of addicts relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Since relapse is always a possibility, addicts and their partners need to stay alert to their triggers and be prepared to get help when warranted.
If you’ve struggled with addiction yourself, be extra cautious – your use can trigger their relapse, and their relapse could spell ruin for both of you. Left unaddressed, relapse can set in motion a roller coaster of chaotic break-ups and reunification that in the long run only exacerbates the problem. The threat of relapse need not deter you from dating someone firmly grounded in their recovery. It is simply a reality you should be aware of. By educating yourself about disease of addiction, you’ll know what to expect and when to ask for help.
#3 Recovering addicts need support. Being a loving partner to a recovering addict requires sensitivity and discretion. For example, you’ll likely need to avoid drinking or using drugs around your partner. If you go to parties or events where alcohol is being served, you may need to leave early or offer additional support.
Even if it’s inconvenient for you, you’ll need to make allowances for your partner to go to meetings or counseling sessions, particularly in stressful times, so that they can continue to prioritize their recovery. Short of a relapse, there still may be times when they fall into old habits, such as withdrawing from friends and family or telling lies. You’ll need to recognize these signs and get involved.
#4 You can’t change the past. Many recovering addicts have done things in the past that result in a criminal record, making it harder to get a job. They may have accrued significant debt, declared bankruptcy or had other financial problems. They may still be working out legal issues and trying to earn their way back into the lives of family and friends. Although these are not necessarily deal-breakers, you need to know that their problems can become your problems. If you can’t accept what was, you may not be the right person to accompany them through what is and what will be.
#5 Know (and take care of) yourself. You can’t change your partner or their past, but you can control yourself. In any relationship, setting and enforcing personal boundaries is an essential skill.
When your own boundaries are firmly in place, you protect yourself from being taken down by your loved one’s illness. There may come a point in the relationship when you need to ask some difficult questions: Why are you attracted to this person? Is it because of who they are and how they treat you, or do you have a history of being attracted to people you can rescue or fix? To avoid codependency, enabling and other problematic patterns, you may need to seek counseling of your own. If a partner relapses, it can be difficult to know what lines to draw.
You don’t want to give up on a person you love – after all, they must be in there somewhere – but if the relationship is making one or both of you sick despite your best efforts, it may be time to leave. No one can tell you when it’s time to call it quits except you. Dating a recovering addict can be complicated, but most relationships are. So long as you know what to watch out for, work to ensure you’re both getting your needs met in healthy ways and reach out for help if you get in over your head – in other words, take the precautions you’d take in any romantic relationship – a recovering addict can be an excellent friend and partner.
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Dating in itself is already stressful. The problems that typically plague standard relationships, from forgetting an anniversary to cheating, create an almost impenetrable barrier in the relationship.
Add in a drug-ridden past or present into the mix, and the relationship is not only stressful, but also very unpredictable. I've had three serious relationships in my life, and two of them were with drug addicts. Dating became a daily juggling act between love and drugs, between happiness and utter devastation. I was constantly in a state of limbo about the success of my partner and the future of our relationship. This is my personal experience dating a drug addict. Although it won't be the same for everyone, maybe some of you can relate.
If you're romantically involved with a current or former drug addict, just know it's not all bad. Dating a drug addict, as with dating anyone, comes with pros and cons. Con: Lack of trust Drug addicts, even if they have been clean for months or years, are difficult to trust. For part of their lives, addicts have been consumed with obtaining drugs and finding money to pay for them.
Even if they swear they're clean, trusting them completely is going to take time. Kayla Snell It's hard to believe they could save money when the thought of buying drugs is always lurking in the back of their minds.
They also have probably become experts at lying and making excuses about their whereabouts, friends and money, so you'll want to check up on them constantly. It also goes the other way. If recovering addicts are trying to push their pasts as far away from the relationship as possible, they will eventually resent you for questioning them.
Con: Uncertainty There is a reason addicts continue attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings and therapy sessions; dealing with addiction is a lifelong battle. Some days are better than others, but the temptation to use drugs is a strong force that can set back years of progress. As an addict's significant other, you take on that anxiety and worry. You constantly have to be wondering if the person you love has relapsed. What is worse is you'll also have to consider how you'll deal with relapse if it happens.
Con: Second place To recovering or present addicts, drugs are no. 1, the top priority, the best things in the world. Their bond with drugs will be stronger than their bond with you, because drugs are easier. Studio Firma Even the best relationships are sometimes messy and chaotic, but drugs are an immediate escape and a quick way to temporary nirvana.
There are, of course, exceptions to this. Some addicts realize that they've given up the truly important things in their life, and work as hard as they can not to mess them up again. Pro: Dependent Ever hear the saying, "Replace one habit with another"? It's incredibly true, especially among addicts. When trying to come or stay off drugs, they often switch vices. Smoking cigarettes, exercising or having sex are popular stand-ins. But beginning a serious relationship can be another substitute. This quality could go either way, depending on the type of person you are.
If you're a fan of space, inconsistent talking and independence, dating an addict will bring out your worst. But if you like knowing you're an emotional support system for someone and enjoy interdependence, you'll thrive in this relationship. Addicts will need you as much, if not more, than you need them, and it's nice to know you're their source of happiness.
Pro: Realistic expectations A major perk of dating someone with a checkered past is that they most likely won't judge you for yours. You have both made questionable choices or have done hurtful things at some point, so there is a mutual understanding that mistakes happen, and they don't mark the end of the world.
REUTERS/Mark Blinch Addicts will also be more forgiving with blunders made during the relationship for similar reasons. Instead of walking on eggshells in a relationship, you can approach it confidently since you know the relationship will probably survive. Pro: Emotionally available Recovering addicts are (hopefully) going to meetings and therapy sessions regularly.
Overcoming an addiction involves being as open and honest as possible with those close to you, talking out your problems and frustrations and learning how to live a sober, satisfying life. Addicts spend a lot of time working on themselves and their relationships on the path to sobriety, so they can apply all those lessons to your relationship.
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