12 Things I Learned from Recovery About How To Be In Relationships

Issue 40. September 15, 2023 ✨ Higher Power Coaching & Consulting

photo credit: Jayson Hinrichsen

1. Don’t date for the first year (unless you’re already in a relationship, of course).

You’re going to be a completely different person who is much healthier in a year version. You’ll be attracted to healthier people, and they’ll be attracted to you.

2. Be real  

Don’t fake who you are, and act like you like things that you don’t like. It’s unsustainable, and you’ll attract people who aren’t a good fit because they won’t know the real you. If you feel compelled to be fake, you’re not ready to date.

3. When somebody tells you who they are, believe them.

If someone deceives you at the beginning of your relationship, they’re a deceptive person. If they tell you they don’t want children or aren’t interested in anything serious – believe them. Don’t try to change people into the person you want them to be.

4. Take it one day at a time

Take things slowly. There’s no rush. If you have a sense of urgency around your dating situation, that’s probably not healthy. That being said, one thing that I think is wise to rush is meeting someone in person that you originally met online. You won’t have time to build up an unrealistic expectation of them, only have it dashed when you meet and there’s no chemistry. 

5. First things first.

What you value most should come first. If you’re in recovery, that needs to come first. Your relationships should fit around your recovery, not the other way around. If you’re a spiritual person or value family highly, those need to come before your relationship. Ideally, things you value highly should be part of your relationship.

6. Acceptance

We need to accept people the way they are without trying to change them. This DOES NOT mean you put up with unacceptable behavior! Every relationship, no matter how compatible, has some kind of irreconcilable differences (e.g., early risers vs. late sleepers, sloppy vs. tidy people, snappy dresser vs. casual dresser). If you’re in a committed relationship, you’ll find a way to make it work without blaming the other person for not being like you. Don’t take their ways as a personal affront to you.

7. H.A.L.T.

If you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired you should HALT and take care of yourself.

If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re angry, express it appropriately and deal with the cause. If you’re lonely, connect with someone. If you’re tired, rest. Don’t wait for someone else to do those things for you and don’t blame them for your discomfort. Take care of your own physical needs.

8. Keep coming back, it works if you work it

“Keep coming back” means you’re committed to the relationship – through the small and big stuff. “It works if you work it” means you put work into the relationship so the relationship will last. Some people think if they just meet their soulmate, it won’t take any work, but that’s bullshit. You need open communication, which takes work and is necessary throughout the relationship.

9. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

If you’re having the same conversations repeatedly, something’s not working right. What do you need to do differently? Sometimes you need to get outside help, but sometimes sitting down to really listen to your partner will do the trick. Something has to change.

10. Progress not perfection

We can’t expect perfection out of ourselves or anyone else, but we should expect progress. This is especially true in a committed relationship. If you’re not seeing progress in your dating relationship, then you probably shouldn’t marry them.

11. HOW – Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness

We need these in place to have healthy relationships. If you’re not honest in your relationships, there’s no sense in being in them. In fact, one could say you’re not really in the relationship if you’re being dishonest.

Be open-minded to the fact that there’s something you don’t know or haven’t tried. Perhaps there’s something you’re assuming about your partner that’s incorrect. Be open to the idea that you don’t know everything or have all the answers. If you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work, chances are really high it will work out. That’s called commitment.

12. What’s my part in things?

This was the greatest gift of recovery for me. I learned WTF I was doing in relationships that were making them tank. Now that I’m in a healthy relationship, it becomes more and more clear what I was doing that was creating or exacerbating chaos.

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