Those who have lived with addiction themselves or known someone who has dealt with its effects and the recovery process understand that the terms only hint at the challenges they represent. When starting a new relationship, it’s common to wonder, how much should I share with my partner about my addiction? What should they know about my past and what I’ve been through? How do you know what and how much to share with them?
Navigating relationships while in recovery is complex
Communicating about your difficulty with substances to a partner or potential partner can be a scary thing. It’s important to recognize the reality of your addiction and not downsize it to appear different than you are. For a romantic relationship to turn into something more long-term, a solid foundation of trust is necessary. This trust is required from both sides, as it makes sense for you to tread carefully and be cautious about sharing these intimate details and parts of yourself.
However, for a relationship to be successful, sharing the most important parts of what recovery means to you will be necessary. Of course, it is up to you when and how you share certain parts of yourself.
The safer you feel, the more you will share
The #1 rule is only to share what you are comfortable sharing. This advice also asks you to keep in mind the type of transparency required for a long-term healthy relationship. The goal is to avoid placing your partner in a situation where they feel blindsided and also to avoid opening yourself up to a triggering reaction by someone who is not prepared or equipped to handle the news. It can be incredibly reinforcing to the cycles of shame that underlie your addictive behaviors when whispers of your trauma are repeated from the lips of your partner.
You should never feel obligated to share more than what you want to. Also, be considerate that your new partner may have never experienced a relationship with someone in recovery. They may have a lot of questions. These questions may not be easy to answer, and it is crucial to make sure that you feel safe and comfortable sharing. If you’re feeling less than sure of your sobriety, you may also consider having someone who is familiar with the recovery process on standby to offer support and guidance.
Things to tell your partner:
- What your triggers are
- What your support system looks like
- Ways they can help your recovery
Be open to a discussion
A full in-depth conversation with your partner about your addiction may need to take place for them to become the supportive partner you need. If your partner loves you and supports your recovery, they should be a safe space to share, although you can help them along. Tell them what you need from them, and how to frame the conversation in the most healing way for you.
Honesty and open communication are keys to many pathways of connection and healing. Make sure to listen to your body and share what you need. For your partner to fulfill their role to you, they will need to know the best ways they can show up and offer support.
Trauma can be brutal to talk about
Along the same lines, the trauma we have experienced in life are often some of the hardest things to share with anyone, even those we trust implicitly. Facing and dealing with past trauma is a vital part of healing, especially in recovery from addiction.
While these traumas may not surface in initial conversations about your addiction, over time, you will realize some of the roles they played and be able to share them with your partner. Being able to face these with a partner you trust will deepen the healing that recovery can bring. Having these tough conversations can also strengthen the connection within your relationship.
There is no set of rules to follow with relationships in recovery
While there is no do’s and don’ts when it comes to relationships in recovery, there are the experiences of others to learn from. Through anecdotal stories we’ve seen that above all, one must stay steadfast on that path of sobriety and healing.
Don’t allow yourself to take a step back from recovery to focus attention on a romantic relationship, or a connection otherwise classified. Your recovery needs to come first. Any future partner should be a supportive part of that healing but should never take priority of your own recovery journey.
Your partner may not be permanent but your commitment to recovery needs to be. Neither recovery or relationships have a ceiling, so with genuine effort and attention they can be better than ever imagined. Textbook recovery and fairytale love may not seem like a possible reality but they sure are ideal directions to be headed in. By continuing the path of recovery by your side, your partner can strengthen your sobriety.
Heal Your Relationships at The Haven At Pismo
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, The Haven at Pismo offers access to California’s Central Coast’s blend of coastal cliffs, rolling hills and sandy beaches. Here, we’ve created the perfect place to find serenity and freedom from addiction. Our location is a haven from the chaos of metropolitan LA, Orange County and San Francisco, as the Pismo Beach idyllic environment sets the mind at ease so one can fully embrace each lesson, relationship, and opportunity.