Deciding to get into recovery is a huge life choice and, while it's ultimately a net positive in a person's life, getting sober can make certain things harder: like dating. Finding someone you like who aligns with your values is a tricky process anyway — and doing it at a time when you're already in flux can add to the challenge.
"The first two years of being in recovery are really a time where people rediscover who they are," says Heather Senior Monroe, MSW, LCSW, a clinician at Newport Academy, an adolescent treatment center for maladaptive coping mechanisms. "Their identity was probably wrapped up in the substances; who they are, who they hang out with, what they do in their free time relates to harmful behaviors to a large extent," she says. And when you're thrust into an environment like the single world, where you're constantly putting yourself out there to be judged, it's that much harder.
"You get used to that lubricant of having a drink, or whatever your poison was to feel comfortable, or at least less-inhibited to actually be myself," says Ryan, 26, a cycling instructor in Philadelphia, who is in recovery. "Not having it is something I had to get used to and still have trouble with," he says. Here are some tips, whether you're in recovery or just not into drinking, for finding those connections and making them last — at least until the end of the date.