Raise your hand if you’re in recovery and you date. Sober people date and hold relationships. Their lives are not over just because they stopped drinking. In fact, many life experiences are heightened by the sense of clarity that comes with a sober mind and attitude, dating included. But things can get a little tricky when you’re sober and your partner still drinks.
It is possible, however, to get through the situation and even have your relationship thrive by keeping a few things in mind:
1. Relationships are relapse triggers
Relationships are one of the biggest risk factors for relapse. Your significant other doesn’t even need to be a drinker for the risk of relapse to be present. If the relationship is stressful in any way, it can cause a recovered addict to want to turn back to alcohol to relieve the stress. Fortunately, just being aware of the risk will help to lower the probability of relapse happening.
2. Communication is key
Be honest and upfront about everything, especially your triggers. Otherwise you’re doing yourself and your significant other a disservice. Your partner should understand what is okay and what is not okay to do around you and be comfortable asking if they’re not sure. If your relationship is somewhat new, don’t put having a conversation about your sobriety off for too long. Becoming attached to someone who won’t actually end up understanding and supporting your lifestyle can be extremely detrimental to your recovery.
3. You can’t change your partner
You can’t – and shouldn’t want to – change your partner’s habits if they don’t want to change. Just like they shouldn’t coerce you into drinking again, you can’t make them stop drinking. The best thing to do is accept each other’s lifestyles and give as much support as you can.
4. Don’t put yourself in risky situations
If your significant other drinks, then it’s likely that they enjoy doing things that involve drinking. This can be parties, social events, wine nights, or bar hopping. While these may seem like enjoyable activities to your significant other, they’re highly risky for you, especially in early recovery. Unless you’re completely comfortable and solid in your recovery, try to set boundaries with your partner that allow him or her to go out while you go do a sober social activity with sober friends. However, if you feel like you’re missing out on experiences because you’re afraid of being put in an uncomfortable situation, try light exposure to those settings until you become comfortable.
5. Make sure your sober support group is solid
It’s okay if you have people close to you in life that drink, as long as you have enough sober support as well. Your partner should also be able to continue their lifestyle and still give you full support in yours. However, they can sympathize with you but they won’t be able to empathize. Make sure you have enough sober people in your life that you can reach out to when you need that empathy.
6. Know when to move on from a relationship
Your relationship is most likely a huge part of your life, but your top priority should be your sobriety. It’s okay that your significant other drinks. But if you notice that his or her habits scream problem drinking, it may be time to do something different. Talk to your partner and suggest they attend a meeting with you. If the habits continue, then ending the relationship may be the best thing for your sobriety and wellbeing.
If you’re not in a relationship yet and you’re thinking about starting to date, check out our sober dating tips.