Your early recovery should be the most important focus of your life, because without sobriety it’s hard to succeed at anything else. Staying single in early recovery is a widely accepted principle, so let’s take a look at why this is so and how staying single can help you avoid relapse.

1. Staying Single in Early Recovery Protects You at a Vulnerable Time

Early recovery is a time when you’re most vulnerable. You’re freshly sober and all sorts of emotions and memories that were suppressed by drugs or alcohol are bubbling to the surface. You may be uncovering long-hidden traumas, mending relationships that were damaged by addiction and healing physically and mentally from the effects of substance abuse.

All of this upheaval makes you more vulnerable. You’re leaving yourself open to relapse when the intensity of a romantic relationship is thrown into this mix, so put romance on the back burner for now.

2. You Don’t Want to Substitute One Addiction for Another

While it may not be your intention, if you get involved with someone early in recovery you might be swapping out your addiction to substances for an addiction to love, attention or feeling needed.1 The relationship itself can become another addiction or a substitute for your former addiction. If a romantic relationship further perpetuates the cycle of addiction, it can harm your recovery.

3. More Time and Energy for Yourself

Staying single in early recovery means all your energy and focus can be spent on yourself. When you’re in a romantic relationship, time needs to be set aside to spend with your partner. This means less time and energy that you’ll have to spend on your recovery. In the first stages of sobriety, your time and energy are better spent building a solid recovery network, frequently attending meetings, reading recovery literature and mastering a substance-free lifestyle.

4. You’re Still Learning About Yourself

For a long time you’ve probably hindered your personal growth and awareness with drug or alcohol use. Now it’s time to learn about your new self—the one without an active addiction. While you explore your sober self, you may not be in the best place to judge who would be a suitable partner. Staying single in early recovery is safest as you learn about the new you.

Staying Single in Early Recovery Without Feeling Lonely

You may feel lonely if you don’t have a partner to love or aren’t actively dating.2 While that’s understandable, there are ways you can avoid a romantic relationship and combat loneliness too.

  • Volunteer your time: Give back to others by volunteering at your favorite charity or ministry. You’ll feel good about yourself and you’ll be around other people.
  • Sign up for classes or sports groups: You can socialize with people who have the same interests you do while learning new things or simply having fun.
  • Go online and join support groups: In the age of 24/7 internet access at your fingertips, join online support groups or download sober apps. When you’re feeling lonely, someone to talk with is only a few clicks away.