Relationships and Sobriety: Should I Date Someone During Recovery?
No one wants to be alone.
We all want to love and be loved. This is actually a God-thing. He created us this way. So, wanting to be in a relationship is a good thing.
But a good thing at the wrong time is a bad thing.
And a good thing with the wrong person is a worse thing.
Since many of us going through recovery want to know whether we should date or not, it’s important that we address two big issues about this topic: who and when?
Who you decide to spend your life with is the second most important decision you will ever make in your life. (The first is where you decide to spend eternity). The spouse you choose will have a greater impact (either for the better or the worse) in your life than any other person ever will. So, who you date is a very important decision.
Let’s first look at what the Bible has to say about this. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, it says not to “be unequally yoked” (ESV). That means that two people in a relationship need to be equally minded. This is especially true in terms of religious beliefs, financial views, and life goals.
It is also a warning for someone who may be in recovery that dating someone who is using drugs or alcohol is not wise. You are heading in the direction of sobriety, and the other person is heading in the direction of addiction.
Imagine standing on a chair (since your sobriety is bringing you up in life) and someone you are dating who is using is standing next to you on the floor. Being together in a relationship is what the Bible means when it says “yoked” together. So, imagine a rope between you. You’re holding one end. The other person is holding the other. You, hoping to get that person into sobriety pull up on the road as hard as you can. The other person naturally pulls down on the rope. Will you pull that person up or will (s)he pull you down? The most logical conclusion is that you will fall before the other person rises.
When dating someone who is using while you’re trying to recover, the likelihood of a relapse is so high that the risk of the relationship offsets any positive thing that could come from it.
It’s simply a bad move from the start.
But what if the person isn’t using? In fact, what about the person who is strong in Christ and is successful in life? Would it be a good idea to date that person?
The answer is yes. But that is not the question we want to ask. What we really need to know is not, “Should I date this person.” What we need to know is, “Should I date this person now?”
We sometimes mistake God’s “not now” for a “no.” Just because God delays your request does not mean He has denied it. But the last thing we want to do is move forward move quickly than God. Because even if we are in God’s will, if we are not in God’s time, we will create a mess for ourselves.
So, how do we know when it’s time for us to date again after beginning our sobriety?
The best way to know is this. It’s probably time to date again when you no longer feel like you have to date.
Let me explain. We often feel incomplete, like something is missing. This is especially true after having battled something like an addiction for an extended period.
To fill this void, we seek completion in someone else. We look for that “other half.” The problem is that dating is not like mathematics. Two broken halves do not equal one healthy whole in dating. In fact, it still equals two broken halves. The only difference is that now both broken halves are depending on the other one to make them whole.
But we are not made complete by another human being who is broken in half. We “are complete in [Christ]” (Colossians 2:10 KJV).
It’s important that we find ourselves first. And that takes time. But once we find ourselves and establish our true identity in Christ, we no longer feel the need to be completed by someone else.
That’s not to say that the desire to love and be loved has gone away. It means that we are fulfilled in Christ and would like a relationship with someone else in addition to that, not in spite of it.
So, once we know who we are then we know it’s the right time to date. And by knowing who we are, we then are ready to know who it is we want to be in a romantic relationship with. The when and the who merge together. God blesses it. And we enjoy something we never could have had if we had done it with the wrong person or at the wrong time.