Why Should I Avoid New Romantic Relationships for the First Year of Recovery?
One of the “rules” of AA is that it’s important to avoid new romantic relationships for at least the first year of recovery. While this might seem harsh, it can be a valuable guideline for many reasons. New relationships are times of excitement, vulnerability, and change. No matter what stage we’re at in our lives, it’s easy to fixate on a new relationship and become overly obsessed with this new person. It’s an exciting time and can often take up a lot of space in your mind and heart. While these things might all seem wonderful, they are also the reasons why it’s a good idea to avoid a romantic relationship in early recovery. Below, we will outline some of the reasons for this guideline.
You’re more vulnerable during the first year of recovery. You’ve just gone through a lot of changes and you’re learning to live a new way of life without drugs or alcohol. Additionally, you’re learning new, healthy ways to cope with your emotions and you’re probably getting involved in a new group of friends in your treatment center and/or at 12-step meetings. This increased vulnerability during the first year makes any new relationship tenuous.
You’re more susceptible to relapse. In early recovery, you’re more likely to relapse. Relationships add to this risk, as they are often emotionally-charged. As you are probably still learning how to cope with strong emotions in healthy and effective ways, it’s best to be on the safe side and avoid a romantic situation until you have at least a year of emotional sobriety under your belt.
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