When Can You Start Dating Again?

When Can You Start Dating Again?

In Family, Recovery, Sober Living by Tree House Recovery

Guys always want to know when they can start dating again in addiction recovery. Although addiction affects people of every age, it typically begins between the ages of 18 and 25, the time of life when people are most actively dating. However, when you’re struggling with substance use, recovery takes priority. Most experts recommend having at least a year of solid recovery before you start dating again. Here’s why.

Dating takes energy you could be devoting to recovery.

Recovering from addiction isn’t easy. It takes focus and persistent effort. Dating isn’t easy either. It takes time and effort. And when you meet someone you like, you want to spend a lot of time with her. You may have to sacrifice 12-step meetings or otherwise disrupt your recovery routine. There’s also the issue of feeling too good. New relationships are exciting and there is a risk of feeling like your problems are behind you. One study from the University of Pennsylvania found that while women were more likely to relapse following negative emotions, men were more likely to relapse after experiencing positive emotions. For the first year, it’s best to remain focused on recovery as much as possible. This is one reason many addiction treatment programs treat men and women separately–it reduces the risk of being distracted by romantic relationships. 

Dating increases your risk of emotional turmoil.

Dating potentially adds unnecessary emotional turmoil to your life at a time when you are already dealing with a heavy emotional load. It’s common to feel anxious, depressed, restless, lonely, bored, and many other challenging and conflicting emotions early in recovery. Dating might seem like a pleasant distraction but you are also creating an opportunity for more problems. You have to deal with the uncertainty of new relationships and even when it goes well, a fight or breakup can leave you feeling angry or depressed. It’s better to deal with those problems when you’re on more stable emotional ground. 

You may fall back into negative relationship patterns.

Many people with substance use disorders also have unhealthy relationship patterns. They may be attracted to people with emotional issues or substance use issues. They may keep ending up in abusive or codependent relationships. If you start a new relationship too soon in recovery, you are likely to fall back into one of these old relationship ruts. There’s no hurry. Take your time to sort out some of your own issues, get a solid recovery routine in place, build a sober network, then consider dating again. 


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently.

No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474