How to Make a Sober Relationship Stronger

You may have heard not to start a new romantic relationship in the first year of your sobriety. But we’re human, it happens – and it often happens between two people who are in recovery. Early on or not, the relationship between two people who are both working toward sobriety can come with both benefits and risks.

Each relationship is different, so it’s important to support each other’s recovery and avoid temptations that could trigger a relapse. Read more for tips on how to make a sober relationship stronger.

Be Honest With Your Partner and Yourself

Honesty and communication are key to any relationship. It’s important to be open with your new partner in regard to your recovery and struggles. If you are dating someone who is also in recovery, this shared experience can help you relate but your needs may differ. Communicate what is important to you in a partnership and encourage your partner to do the same.

Look Out For Relationship Red Flags

It’s also important to make sure that you aren’t latching on to someone who is likely to hurt you or your ability to stay sober. Some red flags can indicate that this may not be the right person for you, including:

  • A particularly rocky or explosive history with significant others.
  • A history of frequent relapse or long periods of relapse.
  • A recent return to recovery or being new to recovery (e.g., the first year of sobriety)
  • Your family or friends’ concerns.

Everyone deserves a second chance and it’s important not to judge others, especially when it comes to drug and alcohol use. You want to make sure that your prospective significant other is strong in recovery and will be a support for you just as you will be in return. If your friends believe that the person you are interested in isn’t treating you right or have concerns about the relationship, it may be worth a second look, especially if they are the people who know you best.

Hold Yourself and Each Other Accountable

Throughout your relationship, it’s important to maintain a strong connection to your continued recovery. Checking in with yourself frequently will help to make sure that you are physically and mentally active in your recovery. Consider:

  • Whether or not you have been missing 12-Step meetings to spend time with your new significant other.
  • Keeping up with scheduled check-ins with your sponsor.
  • Actively working toward new sober goals.
  • Working on your relationships outside of your romantic partnership (family, friends, co-workers).

Watch for Signs of Relapse

The rush from a new relationship can be exciting and euphoric. Unfortunately, in any relationship arguments, feelings of insecurity, and jealousy often arise. The difference is when you are both in recovery this can trigger a relapse. Remember to be proactive and talk to your partner about how you both prefer to handle conflict before an argument happens. Prepare yourself by creating strategies to work through hard times or heightened emotions. Recovery is a lifelong journey and relapse is often a part of recovery. If you do experience a relapse, getting back into treatment sooner can give you the best chance to get back on track.

Put Sobriety First

Even after committing to a relationship, your sobriety should remain the top priority. The consistent dedication to your program and tools that you developed during treatment should not take a backseat to your new relationship. These practices will not only benefit you but can help you be a better partner in the new relationship.  The stronger the two of you are as individuals – both in life and in terms of recovery – the better you will be for each other and the more positive the relationship.

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