Why You Shouldn’t Start Romantic Relationships in Rehab: Human Nature
We are human, so it is natural for us to want to connect to others and possibly start romantic relationships. Romantic relationships fill our desires for human companionship. They are exciting, new, and unknown. Being in rehab can be hard and scary and having someone to fill that void seems desirable but it really isn’t. Starting a romantic relationship while in rehab defeats the purpose of why you’re here and it doesn’t help in your recovery.
Why You Shouldn’t Start Romantic Relationships in Rehab: Dopamine
While in rehab you are expected to be sober and that includes riding yourself of emotional “toxins”. Starting a romantic relationship can create dopamine highs that your brain is currently craving now that you’re drug-free In rehab you are to feel your pain, analyze your behaviors, and cut yourself off from friends and family for a while. You are to let go of your sense of comfort created by drugs and alcohol. This is not done to hurt you or make you feel unwanted or loved. You are wanted and loved by your family, friends, staff and fellow clients who are rooting for your recovery.
It’s not easy to ask someone to change their behavior from one day to the next. It takes time, and quite frankly that’s exactly why people come to rehab . Throughout the rehabilitation process one may find themselves slipping into the comfort of a romantic relationship. They may rationalize the behavior by saying that the point of drug rehab is to be sober from drugs and alcohol but not romantic relationships. It’s important to know that addiction causes changes in the brain that make us crave our drug of choice; that make use crave dopamine.
Why You Shouldn’t Start Romantic Relationships in Rehab: Rehab is for Changing Not Substituting
Some people simply pick up another habit (like fitness, food, traveling) in their recovery to remove themselves from their drug of choice. Anyway that a recovering addict can find happiness in another outlet is heavily pursued. There are even people who are addicted to love or have sex addictions and when they are being treated in rehab you better believe they are not there to start romantic relationships.
The scary part is some of those people who start romantic relationships in rehab don’t make it once they get out. This is not to say that the two are 100% correlated but it’s a sign of unwillingness to change and focus on ones recovery and not ones desires. If you focus on a romantic relationship while you are in rehab instead of getting sober you will end up with a romantic relationship with no sobriety. A romantic relationship without sobriety almost always leads to no romantic relationship at all. Then we’re left standing there with nothing once again.
Why You Shouldn’t Start Romantic Relationships in Rehab: Ulterior Motives
Focus: The biggest reason you shouldn’t start a romantic relationship in rehab is because you will lose focus on what is important. Believe it or not getting sober doesn’t have to be difficult, but adding any kind of distraction will make it difficult.
Selfishness: Let me tell you from my own experience that romantic relationships in rehab is most likely selfish. Each individual is looking to seek some sort of comfort out of the other person, some sort of distraction, some sort of relief from the pain instead of seeking to see what they can give. Seeking relationships for selfish reasons or to serve as distractions to underlying issues will get you nowhere. This ultimately will set any relationship to fail.
Mindset: When you are in rehab you are not in the right mindset. If you are currently in rehab or have a little bit of clean time you might be think I’m wrong. Come talk to me about a year or so into your recovery tell me how “sane” you were at 30, 60, 90 days sober. I have yet to meet a woman who got into a romantic relationship in rehab or in early sobriety who eventually got over a year of clean time and said “oh yeah that was totally a good idea” or said “I definitely was thinking straight.”
Some may be sicker than others but no one is totally thinking clearly when they have a little clean time or are in rehab. It is normal to not be thinking clearly but because it’s the only thinking we know – we don’t realize it isn’t clear until we have more clean time. So starting a romantic relationship in rehab with so little clean time is not a good idea because you are not totally you yet. I would say it took me about 9 months before I felt more like myself and the only way I know that is I stayed clean after nine months and continually looked back at my train of thought at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months and so on. After 9 months I could see it kind of leveled out.
Don’t get me wrong I am not trying to say anyone cannot start a romantic relationship in rehab. Anyone can do what they want to do. But I would be surprised if it was ever given as a good suggestion to help you with your sobriety to get in a relationship. Everyone makes their own choices and those choices are either going to make their journey in sobriety a little bit easier or harder. So it is up to you. Do you feel like dealing with the extra hurdle of a romantic relationship in rehab as well as trying to stay sober? Or would you rather wait; until you are healthy, have something to offer someone, can be selfless and are more stable?
Our advice is that in order to have a lasting and selfless relationship with someone you have to start by making a commitment to yourself. This is the time you can be selfish and not have to feel bad about it. Your recovery comes before anything, without it you have nothing.
If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.