Dangers of Addictive Relationships: Dating in Recovery, Part 2

Even though many of us in recovery are lonely, jumping into a dating relationship isn’t always the wisest idea. Dating in recovery can actually easily trigger a relapse—or a new addiction to relationships. Because It’s easy for relationships to become just as addictive as substance abuse, it is not uncommon for those just starting out in recovery to end up in addictive relationships.

How Do Addictive Relationships Work?

Addictive relationships often start with immediate and intense gratification. Then, in an effort to control circumstances to maintain that high level of gratification, you becomes obsessed, resorting to manipulation and deception to control the person who has now become your whole world.

Because it is based on a foundation of dishonesty and unrealistic hopes, this kind of high can only last for so long. When the person you’ve pinned your hopes and dreams on doesn’t live up to your expectations, your world comes painfully crashing down. Chances are, you’ll end up blaming yourself or the other person for your frustration and problems.

This blame is then followed by a compulsion to experience the intense gratification again. The compulsion is so strong that you are willing to put the hurt of unrealized expectation out of mind temporarily to experience the intense relational gratification once again, instead of dealing with the hurt you experienced. Pretty soon the cycle of relational addiction starts all over again.

How Can I Avoid Addictive Relationships in Recovery?

If you’re thinking about dating in recovery, remember that another person is not why you get up in the morning. The Twelve Step program is very clear that joy and well being do not come from another person, but from God. You are human and will let others down. And anyone you date is also human and will let you down–unfortunately sometimes when you least expect it.

If your primary sense of worth is in another human, you will always struggle with sobriety. You can’t look to someone else to tell you that you’re “good enough.” If you’re looking to a relationship instead of your higher power for that kind of assurance, then when a relationship doesn’t give you the satisfaction you want, you will find yourself feeling hurt, depressed, and wanting to drink again.

Relationally, you can’t look to another person to give you the fulfillment and joy you haven’t already found for yourself. Relationships are not a magic cure to instantly make everything better. Another person can’t fix your world, only complicate it.

If you’re unhappy with yourself, don’t go out looking for someone to make you feel happy and complete. First, work on dealing with the underlying issues in your life keeping you from finding true joy and peace. You aren’t ready for a relationship until you yourself feel whole.

Keep these principles in mind to help you avoid ending up in an addictive relationship:

  •     You can’t rely on another person to make you perennially happy.
  •     True happiness doesn’t come from another, it comes from within.
  •     A relationship can’t solve your problems, it only multiplies them.
  •     You can’t find lasting satisfaction in looking to someone else to make you feel that you’re “good enough.”