8 Reasons Why Dating 12-Step Newcomers Is a Terrible Idea

The recovery journey is an incredibly emotional time. While in active addiction, people often numb themselves or dilute their emotions with alcohol and drugs; therefore, early recovery often involves a flood of emotions that may take a while to stabilize. In fact, it can take months or even years to find one’s emotional equilibrium. However, one of the most difficult feelings to overcome is loneliness. Without substance abuse, one becomes much more aware of a lack of romantic, emotional, or even just sexual fulfillment, which can make twelve-step groups complicated, particularly for people who are new to the group.

Although it’s discouraged, intimate relationships between members of twelve-step support groups do happen. In particular, people who are less familiar with the methodology and who are still in the throes of a major flood of emotions may be especially eager to engage in relations with other members of their twelve-step or support groups, but there are many reasons why engaging in relations, or “hooking up,” with twelve-step newcomers is a really, really bad idea.

They need more than you’re ready or able to give

Being in a very emotional stage, those who are new to twelve-step recovery and even sobriety as a whole are still trying to navigate through their feelings. They tend to excite very easily, get sad or mad very easily, but the length of time spent in active addiction means that their social skills have taken a major hit. Therefore, twelve-step newcomers can quickly become very clingy or emotionally needy. As such, it’s important to be aware that those who are just beginning this kind of recovery are likely going to need much more than a person with more recovery experience can or wants to give. One might summarize relations with a group newcomer as biting off more than can be chewed.

They’re not very self-sufficient

Everyone has their own specific “turn-ons” and “turn-offs,” the latter of which can often be deal breakers when it comes to considering beginning a romantic relationship with someone. Unfortunately, being in active addiction for a period of up to years or even decades is not kind to most people, leaving them with very little to show for themselves; this often means no job — or no job with which a person can sustain him or herself — no car, possibly living with parents. This might sound judgemental, but a person who’s only just begun to rebuild his or her life and who is not current self-sufficient will likely be high-maintenance. Think about it: Who’s going to pick driving who around? Or paying for dinner? Or paying for those movie tickets? People aren’t generally going to want to begin even a merely sexual relationship with someone for whom they’ll end up being a caretaker.

They’re often emotionally volatile

Much like their being a bit more needy than those who have accrued more sober time, twelve-step newcomers are often emotionally volatile. In other words, they’re prone to very unpredictable highs and lows that are seemingly unprovoked or excessive. One might compare this volatility to someone with bipolar disorder or even a child who throws occasional temper tantrums. Granted, not every newcomer will be this way as some people are naturally less emotional than others, but this is a risk that many wouldn’t want to take.

Difficult to date when living at home or in a halfway house

For reasons that are pretty self-explanatory, it’s very hard to date — or even just have platonic, sexual relations — with someone who is living at home or living in a sober living facility. When it comes to the former, the prospect of having his or her parents standing outside the locked bedroom door is a level of stress and embarrassment that nobody needs or wants. And with the guest restrictions that halfway homes tend to have combined with what’s likely to be multiple people assigned to each room, that’s all but out of the question for most.

They’re practically a stranger

Sure, the newcomer sitting there in the back row might be a real looker; however, he or she is still pretty much a stranger. It’s not uncommon for people to even use fake names in twelve-step groups. That’s just par for the course and part of the promise of anonymity. Additionally, having good looks shouldn’t equate to perceptions of a person being trustworthy. In fact, appearance and trustworthiness are totally unrelated. There have been studies.

Ask yourself: “Would I want to have a baby with this person?”

This one is the tried-and-true rationale preached by many parents and sex education teachers alike. When considering fraternizing with a twelve-step newcomer, ask yourself this question: Would I want to have a child with this person? One might respond by promising to use contraception, but the only bulletproof means of preventing unplanned pregnancy is by practicing what should be familiar to anyone who’s worked the Twelve Steps: abstinence.

There’s risk involved with people just beginning recovery

As a follow-up to the fact that any newcomer would essentially be a stranger, there’s also the issue that this is a person who has only just begun his or her recovery. Think about that for a moment. How many people achieve permanent sobriety on their first try, without so much as a single relapse? Unfortunately, there’s a chance that this newcomer won’t make it to the 30-day chip and that you could wake up the morning after a sexual tryst to find your wallet or purse missing. Ask the loved ones of any addict and they’ll confirm that addicts, unfortunately, can’t be trusted, so there’s no good reason to put trust in someone who doesn’t even have a month of sober time. Moreover, it’s often recommended that people in the early stages of recovery wait until they’ve been sober for a period of time before beginning romantic or sexual relationships as they can be helpful or extremely harmful to one’s recovery.

The program actually discourages fraternization

Last and certainly not least, there’s the fact that engaging in relations with other members of one’s twelve-step support group is strongly discouraged for many of the reasons listed above as well as others. However, one’s twelve-step group is meant to offer a sense of community and encouragement, unwavering support, and a place where one knows he or she is always accepted and never judged. The atmosphere of fellowship can become compromised by romantic and sexual relations between members, which can trigger things like jealousy, resentment, and much more unpleasantness that can not only ruin it for the two people involved, but for all the other members of the group as well.

Find lasting sobriety with Drug Treatment Center Finder

Although romantic and sexual relationships between twelve-step group members and patients of treatment programs are discouraged, each individual is encouraged to develop strong friendships and amicable connections with peers while in treatment as it adds to the efficacy of the recovery process. If you or someone you love would benefit from learning more about twelve-step groups or addiction treatment, call Drug Treatment Center Finder at 1-855-619-8070. Our recovery specialists are available anytime, day or night, for free consultations and assessments. Begin a life of health and happiness with just one phone call.