I would know; I am one.
Dating a recovering addict may be a scary concept to some, but some addicts may actually be more prepared to be in a relationship than one would think. Everybody is different but substance abuse — however it manifest itself: drugs, booze, etc. — and its recovery process can lead to specific character traits.
I have dated recovering addicts, and they were easier to communicate with than others. I'm also a recovering addict myself. For a little over a year I did cocaine daily. I was high at work and all social outings, but I spent the majority of my time alone in my room.
I couldn't stop using and would regularly stay up for days. Because I was unable to control my urges, as much as I wanted to, I would emotionally beat myself up after every single lonely drug binge. I was in a constant state of anxiety, paranoia and self-hate. When I did seek out recovery, I learned new ways to approach life. The way I treated myself and others transformed.
I've noticed the following develop in myself and others, post-addiction. Here's what you need to know about how former addicts love differently.
1. They aren't judgmental.
They have had a checkered past. While addicted, they may have engaged in some things they aren't proud about. They have learned to forgive themselves for their mistakes and they’ll be forgiving of yours, too. The worst thing you ever did may not shock them, and they're very likely to accept your past. They will also be grateful that you accept theirs.
2. They're extremely forgiving.
They may be less likely to blow things out of proportion over a little mishap or mistake. In their past, they’ve made some major social mistakes. So if there's a little oopsy, they're likely to be forgiving, especially if loved ones have been forgiving to them. Just as with any relationship, own up and take responsibility for any blunder.
3. They're appreciative.
Recovering addicts really appreciate how great love can be when they love themselves and are capable of loving others. Often, those prone to addiction problems genuinely want to love to another person and be loved. But in their throes of addiction, they hated themselves and created a world of pain around them.
Being in love feels good, so they're likely to relish and appreciate this positive experience, potentially more than someone who hasn't been through a personal hell.
4. They're emotionally available.
Recovering addicts are going to regular meetings or therapy sessions, in which they speak about themselves. That's healthy. The positive communication they participate in makes them more in-tune with their feelings and prepares them to be communicative with a partner.
5. They know their flaws.
Recovering addicts have spent a lot of time self-loathing and realizing their flaws during their isolation as an addict. They aren't in denial about what their weak spots are, and work to improve them.
6. They don’t mind putting in work.
Overcoming addiction is a lot of work, and recovering addicts will be able to see the positive outcome of all the labor. Thus, putting in a little effort to a romantic relationship won't be a chore. They will be happy to do it.
7. They're honest.
They likely spent a lot of time lying and hiding things as an addict, and they don't want to do that anymore. Recovering addicts are often fearlessly honest about everything, even things most people would be embarrassed about. They want you to trust them, and trust that they won't relapse. Therefore, they won't lie about the little things.
8. They have a good sense of humor.
Crazy pasts often make for not only a realistic perspective on life, but also for a good sense of humor. At some point, laughing at how strange life is can becomes healing. Recovering addicts are good at laughing at the absurdities of life and excel at not taking themselves too seriously.
9. They make great lovers.
Making love to their partner is a positive alternative to doing drugs, and it also affects some of the same parts of the brain that drugs do. Because of this, they will often make for a passionate lover.
10. They will need extra support.
Some recovering addicts may be afraid of not being loved because of their past. They have spent a lot of time hating themselves, perhaps convincing themselves that they aren't worthy of love.
Sometimes, society sends the wrong message that addicts are unlovable and are bad people. There's a lot of shame and stigma surrounding addiction. A former addict may need a little extra love and support because of that. Just remind them that they're just as worthy as anybody else of being loved.