Recovery is possible. We are open 24/7. 866-797-7962

7 Tips for Dating an Alcoholic in Recovery

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dating an alcoholic in recovery can be tricky – if you are not aware of the suggestions and tips necessary to create a healthy relationship. To begin, it’s recommended for alcoholics in recovery to refrain from dating for a year. While it is okay to remain in a relationship during early recovery, you should not begin a new relationship before an individual has celebrated a year of sobriety. While one year may sound like a long time, this period is meant to be spent on personal growth and learning sobriety maintenance techniques.

When dating an alcoholic in recovery, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Let’s take a look at the 7 tips for dating a recovering alcoholic.

The Purpose of the “1 Year” Rule

Beginning a new relationship may be stressful, increasing an individual’s risk of relapse. Additionally, newly recovering alcoholics are still working on reducing their addictive behaviors. This means that beginning a new relationship might also mean adopting a new addiction. Entering a relationship during early sobriety could take an individual’s attention away from the emotional, mental, and physical work required to create a solid foundation of recovery.

While no one wants to believe that their relationship will end, most relationships do. Alcoholics in early recovery are not equipped for the emotional and mental consequences of breaking up with a significant other. Making beginning a new relationship with a recovering individual with less than a year sober dangerous and reckless.

To explain further, the one year rule is just a general guideline for dating in recovery. This rule assumes that individuals are secure in their sobriety emotionally, mentally, and physically. In other words, you should not date an alcoholic in recovery until they have done the work required to become mentally, emotionally, and physically stable.

7 Tips for Dating an Alcoholic in Recovery

If you are considering dating a recovering alcoholic, take a look at the 7 tips for beginning a relationship with someone who has completed treatment, has been sober for at least one year, and feels as if they are ready for the emotional and mental aspects of being in a relationship.

#1. Take Things Slowly

Moving quickly in any relationship is not recommended, as you both still have a lot to learn about one another. This is especially true when dating an alcoholic in recovery, as sobriety is a lifelong emotional and mental learning process. Even after celebrating a year of sobriety, recovering individuals must continue to improve on themselves, the way they react and behave, as well as learn new healthy methods of coping.

#2. Be Willing to Work With Their Quirks

It is important to be aware of the fact that people in recovery are not only recovering from their substance abuse, but also the factors that led them to this point. Keeping this in mind, your partner may deal with mental health conditions, unresolved trauma, and other issues from their past that they are trying to heal from. In fact, co-occurring mental health conditions are common among alcoholics, and individuals with substance use disorders. Additionally, as a result of their addiction, they may have serious financial troubles, a criminal record, or limited contact with their children or loved ones.

When entering a relationship with a person in recovery, you must be willing to work with and accept the issues they deal with. While these past mistakes or mental health conditions should not be deal-breakers, they must not be ignored either. By becoming educated on the issues your partner suffers from, communicating with them about their needs, and taking care of your own needs, you can build a healthy relationship with a recovering alcoholic.

#3. Educate Yourself on Addiction and Alcoholism

If you are not knowledgeable about addiction, you should start researching before beginning a serious relationship with a recovering alcoholic. To begin, you should know that addiction is a brain disorder that is characterized by impulsivity and continued engagement in an activity or substance despite facing negative consequences.[1] However, this is not a lack of will power or morals, rather, a mental health condition that must be maintained.

Also, you should keep in mind that recovery from any addiction, including alcoholism, is a lifelong process. Keeping this in mind, your relationship should be conducive to your partner’s recovery. This may include keeping alcohol out of the home, managing stress, and building strong communication skills with one another.

#4. Know Your Partner’s Triggers

Another tip for dating an alcoholic in recovery is understanding their triggers. There are all types of triggers, including sights, sounds, smells, situations, and more. While avoiding triggers is important, it’s impossible to stay away from all of them. Fortunately, your partner will learn ways to manage temptation during treatment and within alcoholism support groups. However, there are still some things you should do.

For example, you should be mindful of the social activities and the dates you plan. Instead of going to a nightclub or bar, you could see a movie, go on a hiking trip, or cook a nice meal at home. In other words, make sure to plan healthy, sober activities and dates.

#5. Allow Them to Prioritize Their Recovery

Your partner’s sobriety solely depends on their dedication to their recovery and the maintenance of their healthy coping mechanisms. This means that, without prioritizing their recovery, your partner could very well relapse. When dating an alcoholic in recovery, you must be okay with them spending time attending support groups for addiction recovery, therapy, meeting with sober support, and in some cases, attending outpatient treatment sessions.

#6. Practice Self-Care

Being in a relationship with anyone has the potential to become consuming. To avoid this, make sure that you maintain your own self-care while helping your partner with their own issues. It’s important to remember that self-care is never selfish, as it is necessary for creating healthy relationships and bonds.

#7: Prevent Codependency

Remember that you can’t fix anyone. While you should be a source of compassion and support, the decision to remain sober is your partner’s responsibility. Attempting to rescue someone from their issues is known as codependency.[2] Codependency is not healthy for either of you, as it lessens one’s ability to function on their own. If you find yourself in a codependent relationship, you should attend individual therapy as well as couple’s counseling.

Treatment for Alcoholics and Addiction to Alcohol

If you are dating a recovering alcoholic who has relapsed, they require professional treatment. At Carolina Recovery Center, we provide only the most effective modalities of addiction treatment while ensuring that each patient is well cared for and supported. Contact us today for more information on alcohol addiction treatment.