Put simply, they’ve been avoiding reality and their true emotions for a very long time – usually several years or even decades – and without the ability to moderate those sensations (via an addictive substance or behavior) they can very easily become overwhelmed and/or addled.
One moment they feel awesome, on top of the world, incredibly attractive, and unbelievably horny; the next moment they feel like the world’s biggest pile of dog crap, completely unworthy of love and affection.
Needless to say, this is not a great headspace for important decisions, especially when those decisions are emotionally charged, as romantic relationships nearly always are.
The most common blunders include: So far, I’ve probably seemed pretty pessimistic about recovering addicts and romantic relationships. I merely wanted to point out that recovering addicts should not seek romance, especially early in the healing process, without knowing the potential pitfalls they may encounter – most notably the emotional turmoil that even psychologically healthy people experience when dating.
As such, I don’t recommend that men and women new to sobriety end old romantic relationships or seek out new romantic relationships right away.
Instead, they should take some much needed time to focus on themselves and their recovery, developing self-understanding and supportive peer bonds.
NOTE: There are plenty of intelligent exceptions to this general rule.
For instance, if a recovering addict is in an abusive relationship, he or she may need to walk away, either temporarily or permanently, to maintain sobriety.
There are several common romantic and sexual mistakes that individuals new to recovery tend to make, the first and most obvious of which is to ignore the almost universal admonition discussed above – to not make any major life changes in the first year.
Sadly, these missteps can and often do lead recovering addicts directly into relapse.
When addicts (of all types) enter treatment and recovery, one of the first things they are told is to not make any major life changes in the first year of sobriety, especially when it comes to romantic relationships.
If they’re married, they’re told to stick it out for at least twelve months no matter how bad their relationship seems in the moment.