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Dating in Twelve-Step Programs: Pros and Cons

If you’re in a 12 step group and single, you may see plenty of fish. And what’s not to like? You have the same goals: staying sober, learning to live responsibly, and living each day to the fullest. The similarities seem endless and the match looks perfect. However, there are some downsides to dating in the program.

The first con is that everyone in the program is a stranger. You don’t really know anything about them, except for the basics they’ve shared in meetings. And you can only share so much there. So, if you’re looking for something more than just sobriety, it could be difficult to find out what that is.

The second con is that there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. When you’re in the program, if something goes wrong with your relationship, everyone knows about it and gives their unsolicited advice on how to fix it. So when a breakup happens or the two people just don’t work out, then many feel responsible for the failure.

The third con is that there can be a lot of drama. People in the program are human after all and they make mistakes. Unfortunately, when those mistakes happen in relationships, it often becomes public fodder for discussion at meetings. If the group is small, you can be sure that everyone will know about your business.

The fourth con might not seem like much of a problem at first glance, but it’s important to consider when dating in sobriety: potential resentment from others. If someone has been sober for years and knows they never want to go back there again, dating someone who is new to recovery and still struggling with cravings can be frustrating. They may feel like you’re not taking your sobriety seriously or that you’re just using the program as a crutch. They may even feel like you’ll relapse eventually, so why put up with all the crap of dating someone new to recovery?

The final con is that there are no guarantees. You can date in sobriety for years and still end up alone at the end of it all. It’s not surprising since many people enter relationships while they’re still using and then they get sober and don’t know how to manage a relationship. Or they or their partner may relapse and the relationship ends abruptly. So, dating in sobriety is not a foolproof plan by any means.

The last con isn’t so much a problem as it is just something to consider. Because you’re both in the same program, there’s no need for pretense or showing off. But this can also be seen as unromantic by some people who like that tension and game playing that comes into play when two single people are dating each other.

On the plus side, dating in a 12 step group does have many benefits. First, there is the obvious one: you’re both sober. So, if you want to date someone who shares your commitment to sobriety, then a 12 step group is a great place to start looking.

Second, in most groups, there is a vetting process of sorts. People tend to be pretty honest with each other and since everyone is there for the same reason, there is a built-in level of trust. So, you don’t have to worry about your date’s sobriety or whether they are being truthful with you.

Third, dating in a 12 step group often means that you are both committed to personal growth. In order to stay sober and have healthy relationships, you have to be constantly working on yourself. This can be a great foundation for a healthy relationship.

Fourth, there is the added bonus of community. When you date someone in a 12 step group, you automatically become part of their community. You have people who are rooting for you and want to see you succeed. This type of support can be really helpful in a relationship.

Fifth, you both know how to do the work. If something is wrong with your relationship or it feels like there’s a block between you and your partner, then most likely one of two things has happened: either someone isn’t sharing their feelings honestly or there’s some sort of addiction (such as sex/pornography addiction) going on. If you both know how to do the work, then you can get past these types of relationship problems quickly and easily before they take over your lives.

Sixth, dating in a 12 step group is often associated with safety and security because there’s always someone around who knows where you are (and that goes for people who aren’t your significant other as well).

Seventh, you’ll automatically know what to do if either of you slips and has a drink or uses drugs. You can call each other and support one another without having to retrace the steps on how to get through it. Someone always knows exactly where both of you are in terms of sobriety.

Eighth, there are usually no surprises. When you date someone in a 12 step group, you pretty much know what to expect. They’re not going to suddenly start drinking again or using drugs and they’re also not going to cheat on you or become emotionally unavailable.

Ninth, because people in 12 step groups are open about their feelings, you’ll be less likely to wonder what’s going on with your significant other. They’re not the type of people who are afraid to say exactly how they feel in any given moment.

Tenth, dating someone in a 12 step group can actually strengthen your relationship because you both know how hard it is and have a lot of respect for each other because of it.

Eleventh, if you’re dating someone in a 12 step group and they relapse, you have the support of an entire community to help you through it.

Lastly, when you date someone in a 12 step group, there’s always the chance that your relationship will turn into something more. It happens all the time!

So, should you date someone in a 12 step group? The answer is: it depends. If you’re looking for something casual or just want to find someone to share your sober journey with, then dating in a 12 step group can be a great way to do that. However, if you’re looking for a real relationship then it may be more complicated.

The best thing to do is talk to your sponsor or other people in the program about it and get their advice.

Dating in a 12 step group can be great, but it’s important to remember that there are also some cons. So, before you start dating someone in the program, make sure you weigh the pros and cons and decide if it’s the right decision for you.

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