Q: How long should I wait to start a relationship after getting clean and sober?
A: Once you have a healthy relationship with yourself and with G-d, you are ready for other relationships.
Sober relationships: One size does not fit all
Those who have had advice from old timers in 12 step groups who have been working 12 steps of recovery are often told that they should not get in to “new” intimate relationships until they have been clean/sober for at least a year. Think about it, there is some logic behind this; but I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer.
Relationship advice after addiction
During active addiction, there are two very important relationships that are deeply harmed, if not destroyed, during the downward spiral that addiction brings. These two relationships are:
- Relationship with self
- Relationship with something bigger than yourself
1. Relationship with self
The most important relationship a person can have is with self. I have never met an active addict with good self-esteem. In fact, addiction/self-respect don’t always go together. Once you have decided to stop using, I suggest that you must begin immediately to start building a healthy relationship with yourself. This is no easy matter and requires very intense and emotional work. But remember that self help alcohol recovery starts with self.
2. Relationship with something bigger than yourself
Secondly, I do not believe any person in this world is the center of the universe. Active addicts tend to place themselves, usually without knowing it, in this role. Selfishness is generally a big part in the addict’s modus operandi.
Know matter what form it takes, the addict must find for themselves a power greater than them and come to understand that the addicted person is not at the center of life. One must work hard at becoming far more selfless and to do this, there must be an appreciation of a power greater than self. Once you can appreciate this simple fact and come to grips with it, you can form a relationship of trust with this power higher than self. This goal is plain hard work and once again, it can be emotionally exhausting.
When to start a relationship in early sobriety
A simple fact: you can’t give away what you haven’t got (try it with money).
Until you have developed a relationship of love with yourself and right sized your role in this life through an understanding of what is bigger than you, it is impossible to develop healthy new intimate relationships. To the question initially posed, once you have developed reasonably healthy self-esteem and a relationship with a power greater than you (a trust relationship) then you are ready to build healthy intimate relationships with others.
Time is dependent on when you “get it”.
Clean and sober relationship questions
Do you still have questions about starting relationships when you get clean and sober? Please leave them here. We will be happy to try to answer your questions personally and promptly. And we hope that we can help!