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Rehab Romance

Romances in early recovery, especially while in rehab, are not a good idea. Read more in this article.

It’s a Terrible Idea, Trust me

Oh, the disaster that rehab romance is.

I am honestly nervous to start this article like this because once upon a time I would have turned my nose up and gotten upset at someone saying that. Because I was in early recovery, had no self-respect what-so-ever, and thought that guys with tattoos that didn’t have their life together and were not emotionally available at all were somehow attractive.

Let’s face it, girls. Bad boys are hot, yes, but many times its those very bad boys that helped get us into the situation where we ended up in a rehab to begin with. They got us to do things we always swore to our mom’s and dad’s that we would never do.

Give Yourself a Year

Upon entering rehab and halfway we need to really take the time to admit to ourselves that our choices in partners is broken. We are broken versions of ourselves, how can a rehab romance solve our deep-rooted issues?  


Please, give yourself a year to date—even if you are the dependent housewife-type like I was. Your first year in recovery is an even more obvious time to learn to be more independent. Why? because what has been going on in your life is killing you. If it isn’t then you wouldn’t be sitting here reading this loving advice right now, which comes to you after years of experience of being in recovery.

Are you currently in a rehab romance or maybe you’re craving one? The truth is, you completely deserve to have a relationship, in time. If you have met someone in the first 30-90 of your recovery, you may say “I love him,” “He’s the one,” or “I want to be loved,” and all those other great concepts.

Trust me, you have absolutely no idea who he is. All you’re doing is trading one addiction for a sex and love addiction instead of actually facing your problems and growing as a person. Take the truth pill and swallow it.

Trust Me, I Know

I once was where you are right now.

I swear that I can hear my 21-year-old self saying in my head to all the counselors, BHTs and old-timers who warn against rehab romance, “well what do you know about this, you don’t know who I am.” Well, girly, sit back, pour your self a glass of sweet tea, slice some lemons, and pop some popcorn cause its story time. Hopefully, you will learn from my personal mistakes and not make the same ones that I made over and over again.

My Rehab Romance Horror Story

I met him on Christmas Eve outside of an AA meeting in south Florida. Always thought that he was cute and amazing and yes, we had some good times. Thought that I had finally found my romantic hallmark romance experience. Instead, about a month after we got an apartment together I got a hallmark thriller/horror story.

We were terrible for each other. Bad things happened. I got hurt and I got scarred.

After a few months of our bad news behavior, I committed him to detox. The plan was, I was going to get him to go back to halfway. However, that plan was derailed. Why? I didn’t do what my sponsor told me to do.

My sponsor clearly said: surround myself with old timers. You know, the people who have years of recovery under their belts. These are the people who help you “play the tape through,” as they say.

I, instead, surrounded myself with newcomers that were just like me. People who see no reason why not to start a rehab romance. They gave me bad advice, including, “Let him move back in, he messed up, it happens.”

An old timer would have told me to make him leave and go back to halfway.

Everything Went Downhill

Once I let him back into my home it got worse, as my sponsor predicted it would. I stopped going to meetings and started drinking to cope with the abuse. I even had a great idea that marriage would “save” our relationship. Which was a horrible idea, all it did was trap me. You can read my full horror story in another post, I’ll add a link here when it’s live.

My situation might be on the extreme end of a rehab romance. However, there are parts of it that many people who have had failed relationships in early recovery can relate to. For example, I ended up losing my job because I was drinking to cope with the increasingly abusive relationship. My partner relapsed again, the abuse continued and there did not appear to be a sign of this cycle coming to an end.

I eventually took a Greyhound bus back to South Carolina to live with my family.

If that sounds like an absolute disaster to you that’s because it was. I’ve shared my situation at enough meetings to know now that there is no such thing as rehab romances having a lifetime movie ending. Ask someone with more than a couple of years of recovery. Every time it will end up like an American Horror Story. I have seen it time and time again. I have experienced it myself.

Your Sponsor Knows Best

The moral of me telling you all of this is so that you, as a recovering addict or alcoholic, will sit back and take the time to really call your sponsor. Seriously, call your sponsor every time an old familiar voice creeps in telling you what you “should” do. If that voice sounds like the past, ignore it, call your sponsor, go to a meeting, do step work.

Ask your sponsor if the person you’re interested in having a rehab romance with or becoming seriously involved with is really worth it. I guarantee your sponsor will say “focus on yourself,” as you should. If your sponsor doesn’t say that then I advise you to find a new sponsor.


Take a year to get to know yourself and truly learn to love yourself. You can not love anyone else without first having figured out how to properly love yourself. Take some time to figure out who you are and what your interests are.

Get to Know Yourself, Not Some Else

Many of us entering halfway don’t even know what our hobbies and interests are, nor or spiritual or religious beliefs. This is where our focus needs to be in early recovery. If we can’t define our Higher Power, it’s extremely hard to work the steps and see the results that working a program of recovery provides. Don’t sleep through your first few months. Be present, and take the time to get to know yourself.

Hobbies, interests and spiritual development are also major factors when choosing whether or not we should enter into a relationship with someone. You, my early recovery friend, are still growing up, no matter what age you are. Please, give yourself time to grow. There is nothing wrong with the fact that you have to take some time for yourself. Take a year and learn to love yourself. I wish I would have done this, it would have saved me so much heartache and pain.

First Things First

Find a sponsor, work the steps, and take a year for yourself. When you start feeling the desire to date, add a meeting to your weekly schedule! Avoid that rehab romance, no matter how exciting and juicy it is playing out in your mind. My story isn’t even the worst rehab romance story out there. Even though mine is a really tough tale of love gone wrong, I know of worse situations. I was friends with girls who were murdered by their rehab romance. It can happen, it has happened, we don’t always know the person we think we know.

You are worth more than someone who doesn’t even have a year or just got out of prison, or living on probation or any other lighter sentence of moral dilemmas. If you don’t believe that then I have one more thing to say to you: wait a year to date and keep coming back, it works if you work it.