Photo of addiction peer coach Heather Lister

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Heather has extensive experience helping mothers in recovery and people with mental health issues.

Heather's bio

Q: Is it OK to start dating someone before a full year of recovery?

A: I’ve gotten this question a lot from clients. My advice is, as long as you’re able to put yourself first and your significant other second, you’ll probably be fine.

Be sure to prioritize building personal wellness before you take care of someone else. Depending on where you’re at in your journey, you may need to focus a lot of time on yourself.

Also, it’s important for each of you to be individuals first and a couple second; you should have independence within your relationship. It’s healthy for each of you to have your own friends and hobbies, so if both of you can respect and nurture that, then great.

If you find yourself reacting very strongly to minor things, or if you have trouble making time for yourself, you may not be ready. Relationships, especially new ones, can bring out many emotions, ranging from excitement and joy to fear and shame. They can also bring out our insecurities. Staying well is difficult – dealing with all these emotions on top of that can be very overwhelming. Plus, your significant other will have his or her own emotions, too. If you think you can handle that, then it’s okay to explore the possibility. 

There’s no fixed time period for dating – everyone is different. I know couples who met three months into recovery and are doing great, and I know others who needed to wait closer to a year or longer. Go slowly and with an open mind. Above all else, be ready to practice forgiveness, both for yourself and for your partner as you navigate this new time together.

However you choose to approach dating, do your best to move forward, stay healthy and continually reflect on your wellness and happiness. Only you can decide what’s right for you.

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