On dating and early sobriety…

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So, you’re newly clean and sober and you want to get your groove on?

Let’s back that horse up a bit and take a hard look in the harsh glare of reality.

Hi, Old Timer here…
first sober in 1987.

I used to tell all my sponsees, as a condition of sponsoring them, that there’s no (zero) dating until after the second year of continuous sobriety. Note that this is the same rule imposed on me by my sponsor, Fernando *mumble*.

Here’s why: It took you a good long time to set the patterns which made you a drunk, you did a bunch of damage to yourself and others in that process. It’s going to take a while to sort that mess out.

Here’s the discussion process I used with new sponsees around this issue for over a decade:

You’re starting on a totally new, unknown, frightening, journey and here’s the broad steps in it:

1. Dry out, start thinking clearly again… this can easily take 6 months to a year, depending. I was at about 7 months before brain function really made a comeback. I’ve worked with guys who took longer than a year to get there.
During this period I literally had all I could do just to stay sober and practice not reverting to old behaviors.*
*lying, emotional dishonesty, evasion, drinking to hide, henious self talk, being judgemental, etc.

2. During that period, had I dated, I strongly suspect that I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. The emotional investment is a huge trigger for those old behaviors.

3. Worse, if the two of you get in to it and can’t use your tools to break free you could* take each other out.
*will, actually… B.T.D.T.  

4. That load of guilt and anger is not of service to either of you at a time when you’re trying to teach yourselves new, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable, tools along with the use, care, and feeding of those tools… not yet any way. In and of itself learning those tools is way more than enough for any person to take on!

5. ^cue carnival barker^ But wait! There’s More!! In addition to all of this you get to clean up your old messes, and for no additional cost you get to learn how to speak kindly to yourself too! What a deal Folks, What. A. Deal!

6. *locks eyes with OP in deep concern* That last bit is critical in a relationship if it’s to work on any level… you need to be able to speak kindly to yourself when you’re upset.
That’s a whole butt load of stuff to take on all at once.

7. Then we haven’t even talked about supporting yourself yet.
So the real Question is what actually serves both you and her best under the Principles, Steps, and Traditions of AA, and considering the absolute butt load of work you each have on your hands just to stay sober?

8. Now… be friends? Cool. No probs. But for your own sake, and hers, my gentle suggestion would be that it might serve both you guys to wait, do the work, and get solid in your sobriety before going there.

A relationship is tough enough without dealing with sobriety issues as well. Hell! 50% of “normies” can’t pull it off.

TL;DR Work your Program, get your head and shit straight, then start adding complications.
Peace. 10-42

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