Dating is stressful for everyone, especially individuals who have been through a period of drug and alcohol abuse. Even after extensive treatment, those in recovery may continue to be emotionally unstable as they develop new coping strategies out of rehab.
The first 12 months of recovery is so important to long-term sobriety that many rehab programs advise against entering intimate relationships during this time when the recovering addict is still growing and healing. Sometimes, however, this is easier said than done. Recovery requires assistance, encouragement and interaction with others, which opens up the possibility of attracting someone romantically. To help you prepare for such a scenario, here are 5 practical tips for saying “no” to dating when you’re not quite ready.
1. Write your own script for saying no.
It’s important that you don’t isolate yourself after rehab as the support you get from others is crucial to a successful recovery. However, somewhere in between, you may find yourself in a situation where you are asked out on a date. The best and least awkward way to turn the other person down is through a short “script” to firmly but kindly refuse an offer.
Perhaps you can prepare a response like, “Thank you for asking, but right now I am just not interested in dating. I appreciate your understanding.” Keep it short and sweet, leaving out any long rendition of your addiction or recovery story.
2. Avoid attending parties and bars while in recovery.
Not only do clubs and bars have significant temptations for alcohol and drug use, they are also notorious places for hookups and initiating romantic relationships. These are the exact places that counselors advise recovering addicts to avoid as there are simply too many pressures in this type of environment.
3. Opt for more wholesome activities.
Instead of socializing at parties, where temptations of alcohol, drugs and “romantic” encounters are likely to be present, consider other places to be social. For example, the gym or a fitness class is excellent for releasing energy and tension, as well as associating with others who are interested in a healthy way of life. After all, you will need to nourish yourself with activities that are good for your mind, body and spirit.
4. Develop hobbies.
If there’s anything you’ve always wanted to pursue before addiction took over your life, now is the time to do so. Have you always wanted to paint, sculpt, play the piano or join a theater group? Whatever it is that you aspire to do, get out there and fill your schedule with it.
5. Organize your own events.
Grab a friend or two who understands your need for socializing without being concerned about dating and then plan something together. Perhaps you can organize a trip to the museum, check out a local coffee shop or attend a concert in the park. Gather your friends and do whatever puts a smile on your face and allows you to appreciate your newfound freedom from substance abuse.
In your first year after rehab, remember that it may be best to focus on securing your recovery’s success. Give yourself permission to step back and spend time on your personal growth and becoming whole on your own.