The holidays are a hard time to be single. This time of year is filled with Christmas romance movies, gift-giving guides for significant others and probing questions from relatives about your dating life.The pressure isn’t just external, either. During the holiday season, many people yearn for a relationship yet struggle to make a connection.Sometimes, being single for the holidays isn’t a matter of finding the right one. Many people refrain from dating relationships as a personal choice because the timing isn’t right. Each winter, for many people in recovery, dating isn’t and shouldn’t be the primary focus.In this article, we’ll look at being single for the holidays and how the extra layer of the complexity of dating could put your sobriety at risk. Plus, we’ll share a few tips on how to overcome loneliness is the most festive time of year.
Anyone in a relationship can attest to the fact that dating, even when it makes life more enjoyable, also makes life more complicated. Meeting someone new and learning their quirks, history, personality and preferences is an exciting time, but it takes energy and time.As a relationship progresses, there is also a natural level of conflict that is inevitable. The conflict may be harmful, but even if it’s a normal level of tension it can cause stress. In early and active recovery it’s common to deal with some stress, but any added stress should be avoided if possible. Starting out (especially in your first year of treatment) one of your major goals is to build coping strategies that are effective for your needs and circumstances. Until these are well-established and proven to be efficacious in your life, it’s best to avoid stress and triggers whenever possible. Thus, dating may need to be put on the back burner while you develop strategies to deal with tough emotions.
Dating may be dangerous to your recovery goals depending on the person you are dating. Spending time with someone new invites plenty of unknowns into the mix, and a large variety of things may be triggering. Dating someone who has a substance use disorder or had one in the past is definitely a serious red flag that could lead to a relapse.Moreover, you may find yourself forming a codependent relationship, which is a common replacement addiction for substance use. You may also find that you’ve started a relationship with someone who enables substance use, even if he/she does so unknowingly. While many dating relationships are successful, many more are not. It’s best not to take the gamble on dating when you factor in that it could be a gamble on your sobriety.
How to overcome loneliness
Staying single might be the best thing for your recovery, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Going into the winter season without a significant other by your side comes with challenges, but there are ways to manage the loneliness and unhappiness it brings. Here are a few tips for how to overcome loneliness.
1. Buddy up with someone in your support system
If loneliness is a serious trigger to relapse or even a trigger to distressing feelings, enlist the help of your established support system. Chances are, you’re not the only one single this holiday season, so consider inviting a friend or sibling to holiday parties and events. Just ensure the person you have tagged along with is familiar with your recovery goals and can help keep you accountable if an opportunity to use drugs or alcohol strikes.
2. Host your own events
The beauty of hosting your own events is that you can be in charge of who comes (and who doesn’t). If you feel like the only single person at every party and outing, plan a party with other singles, with no pressure to bring a date. In this way, you can also ensure that the people you invite won’t urge you to use or live sober lifestyles.
3. Plan activities you enjoy
One of the most enjoyable perks of being single for the holidays is that you don’t have to modify your plans to accommodate someone else, and therefore are able to fill your schedule with your own hobbies and interests. You can prioritize spending time with family, take a ski trip or have a weekend movie marathon. Your time is yours, so fill it with things that make you happy.
4. Expect some questions
One of the hardest aspects of singlehood during the holidays is the examination from relatives about personal details of your life. Relatives you may only see once a year are likely to ask for an update on your life and this typically includes progress in dating. Even well-meaning questions and comments can make you feel uncomfortable.Plan ahead to encounter some of these dissecting questions, and decide beforehand some ways you can deflect the questions or answer quickly and move on. Choose some other topics of interest that can easily redirect the conversation, such as “I saw you posted about your vacation, it looked lovely! What was your favorite part?”
Lonely during the holidays
It’s OK to feel lonely during the holidays, but staying single may be the best thing for your sobriety. Don’t rush this season to find your special someone and risk jeopardizing your progress in treatment and recovery. This holiday season, focus on yourself and your recovery. Staying clear of drugs and alcohol is your priority. When you commit to refraining from dating temporarily, you’ll find that dating is much easier and more fruitful in the long run. Take care of yourself first, and re-embark on your dating life once you have a solid handle on recovery.If you find yourself single during the holidays there’s no reason to stress. Just like the festivities, your single life is temporary and will only last for a season. As you spend this time investing in yourself, consider starting or bolstering your treatment.Silvermist Recovery offers addiction and mental health treatment in Western Pennsylvania. Find the whole-person healing you need so when it’s time to step back into the dating world, you’re ready. Contact us today to learn more about taking the first step in your recovery journey.
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