With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many people begin to feel sad that they aren’t dating someone. This can be especially hard for someone who is newly recovered, as loneliness can be a triggering emotion. While it can be nice to have someone to spend the couples holiday with, there are plenty of reasons why being single when you’re newly sober is a good thing – in fact, it’s often recommended. That’s why we’ve outlined 5 reasons why it is okay to be single during your first year of recovery.
You Can Focus On Your Recovery
As you are just starting in recovery, it is important to focus on yourself and prioritize your sobriety. The excitement of a new relationship could distract you from your focus on your recovery. For instance, if you were dating, you may decide to miss a meeting or skip out on your therapy session to spend more time with this new person.
Staying single allows you to focus all of your time and energy on yourself. Being in a relationship takes time and effort. Making this relationship work requires you to be accountable for another person and give them enough attention to maintain the relationship. Giving your time and energy to someone else limits that which you can give to yourself. By being fully invested in your recovery journey and building a strong relationship with yourself, you can set yourself up for a successful recovery.
You Avoid Emotional Triggers
New relationships can also come with new drama. If something in the relationship goes wrong, the negative emotions that come from those problems can be triggering for someone who is in early recovery. Feelings like rejection, loneliness, anxiety, and more can be triggers for relapse.
In treatment, you often work on developing healthy coping mechanisms and strategies for personal growth. If you haven’t worked on healthy coping skills yet, you may return to your past mechanisms like substance use or reckless behavior to cope with the hurt you are feeling when the relationship has problems. If you wait before entering the dating pool, you will go into new relationships with the tools you need to handle obstacles in a healthy way.
You Have a Chance to Build Healthier Relationships in The Future
In early recovery, people tend to choose the same kind of partner they would have while they were still using. In the past, they may have chosen people who are abusive or codependent, which set a trend in their relationships. If you jump into a relationship too soon into your recovery, you run the risk of falling back into old patterns and diving into unhealthy relationships.
The first year of your recovery is the perfect time to practice the valuable coping skills you learned in treatment, and gain a new outlook on life that is conducive to bettering yourself. People typically look to date someone who is on a similar level of emotional maturity, so when you are looking for a partner after you’ve been in recovery for some time, you may find that you look for different things in a relationship than you once did.
After you have had time to reflect and learn more about yourself, you may learn principles that will make you a better partner by the time you are ready to date. You might even be grateful for waiting a year to date, as you will be in a much better position to find a like-minded, mature individual who won’t pose a risk to your sobriety.
You Can Build Platonic Support Systems
The types of relationships you need when you begin your recovery are stable, safe ones. Jumping into a romantic relationship poses more risk than that of a supportive, platonic relationship. When you take a break from dating in early recovery, you can hone in on your friendships and build a support system.
Having a support system is essential to a successful recovery. Friends and family are a more reliable and permanent source of support, as they are not as complicated as a romantic relationship, and you will still have someone to lean on if a romantic relationship goes bad. Try finding a sense of stability with your friends and family before looking for it in a romantic partner.
You Have an Opportunity for Self Growth
Recovery is more than just refraining from substance use. It is about self-growth and healing. Recovering from addiction encompasses mental and spiritual development in order to live a better life than you once were.
In early recovery, you are very vulnerable and looking for a way to feel better. Jumping into a relationship may sound like a good idea as it seems like a quick fix to make you less alone or feel happy. But that relief won't be sustainable, nor will the relationship be if you haven’t taken the time to work on yourself first. Your newfound happiness should come from you and no one else.
The most important relationship in your early recovery is the one with yourself. As you get to know yourself, focus on your goals and prioritize your healing, you will find that it provides you with more happiness than external validation could. You also put yourself in a better position to be in a successful relationship in the future when you have had the time to actively improve yourself.
While it may feel hard to be single during this time, learning to enjoy being alone is a valuable tool to enjoy your long-term recovery. Working on yourself and improving your mental health, creating a support system, and prioritizing your recovery will be the best thing you can do for yourself as you enter this new stage in life. If you or a loved one are in need of addiction treatment, Gateway Rehab offers personalized recovery services that promote physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
At Gateway Rehab, our priority is to guide patients toward a life of sustained recovery. Our team recognizes that not every patient shares the same path to sobriety, and that is why we customize treatment options that address each individual’s personal needs and goals. If you or a loved one are currently struggling with addiction, we are here to help. Schedule your first appointment with one of our recovery centers today or call 1-800-472-1177 for more information.