You have put substances behind you, you’ve invested in your sobriety, and you feel ready to pursue romantic connections. Depending on how you might meet that special someone, you may need to find a way to tell them about your past struggles with addiction

Date Where Your Recovery is Supported

If you are used to meeting prospective dates in bars, you might be unsure where to meet new people now that you are sober. A lot of people meet their partners in the places where they are already spending time:

  • Recovery Meetings – Obviously, if you meet someone in a recovery group meeting, your history won’t come as a surprise to them. On the other hand, since you have both struggled with substances previously, that can create entirely different complications: 
    • If either of you are new to recovery, you may still need time to focus on your own recovery before you are truly ready to engage in a relationship. 
    • A person who is new to recovery may still be learning how to set healthy boundaries and respect boundaries set by others.
    • Even a good relationship can become a distraction from the recovery process at times.
  • Your Faith Community – If spirituality is a big piece of your recovery, then you may find a connection with someone who attends your place of worship. There are some things to consider here as well:
    • You may need to have a plan for how you will disclose your substance use to people you meet in this type of setting.
    • Someone who has never struggled with addiction may feel uncomfortable dating someone with this history.
    • Get to know people within your spiritual community as friends before you try to initiate an intimate relationship.
  • Your Hobbies – Whether you have a gym membership, spend time in bookstores, or have joined a team or club in your community, there may be a chance of meeting someone special while engaging in a shared interest.
    • As with dating in your spiritual community, the person is not automatically going to know your history. You may need a plan for how and when to share this information.
    • Having a shared interest can give the person a chance to connect with you before you share history they might find difficult to process.
  • Online – If you prefer to find people online, you will find a wide range of people with varying different experiences with addiction and recovery. You will also have more options about when to disclose your recovery status. 
    • Online dating provides the additional option of disclosing your history before you even meet the person. You could choose to make your recovery status part of your dating profile or to talk about it in one of your initial messages to a person. 

When to Disclose About Your Recovery

There is no one “right” time to disclose your recovery status. The decision you make might depend on the situation:

  • Before the first date – as mentioned above, you might be able to disclose your sobriety even before you meet the person. If you aren’t ready to go into the reasons why you are sober, you may just choose to say, “I don’t really drink, so I would prefer not to have our first date in a bar” and recommend an alternate location.
  • On the first date – some people prefer to actually meet their date and make a first impression before they open up about their recovery. The conversation may develop naturally in the course of the date, as you get to know each other.
  • After the first date – if you are worried that the first date will be ruined by disclosing your history of addiction or you don’t want to tell every first date you have, it might be easier to send a message after the first date, if you would like to continue seeing the person. 

 How to Disclose About Your Recovery

As with any conversation that involves revealing difficult or complex information, it can be helpful to plan ahead:

  • Wait until the timing feels right to you.
  • Be honest.
  • Speak directly. 
  • Be ready for a bad reaction, confusion, or questions, but understand that none of these reactions diminish your hard work to enter recovery.

At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, VA, we support our clients in building full, rewarding lives, with strong, healthy relationships that celebrate their choice to remain sober.