Relationships in early sobriety?
What is the general consensus on new relationships in early sobriety? No rules — that I know — but what is AA's experience with this and is it written anywhere? I have known people to die over them.
The apparent sentiment of the fellowship is that taking on a relationship in early sobriety is usually a bad idea. There is indeed certainly no "policy" on the subject, and there have been innumerable exceptions to the rule.
It seems this idea of waiting a year or some other period is commonly passed around in treatment centers and among members of the AA fellowship. We don't know of any AA literature that suggests such a thing. Perhaps it may be found in some non-AA rehab oriented literature or books from another program.
The AA program of recovery focuses on having a spiritual awakening and not so much on relationships. As page 98 of The Big Book puts it:
"Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house."
Having had a spiritual awakening, the need or desire to drink is removed. As a result, a recovered alcoholic remains sober regardless of relationships, family, friends, work or even free beer.
In AA's earlier years newcomers often began working on Step Nine - making amends - within days or weeks of beginning their recovery. Upon commencing this work, the newcomer began working on steps 10, 11 & 12 every day.
If a person is in a fit spiritual condition there isn't much they can't do, but if a new relationship might keep someone from getting into a fit spiritual condition then they might very well choose to forgo new relations for a while. Ideally important decisions are made based on one's spiritual progress rather than the distance from the last drink.
From the AA perspective it is more important to discern if a relationship is selfish rather than simply "new."
A thoughtful review of pages 68:4 to page 71 addresses the Sex (relationship) Inventory where the goal is to shape a sane and sound ideal for future relationships, always asking whether we were being selfish or not.
First, list each of your intimate relationships, maybe all of your
relationships with others, including God.
Next, ask yourself these nine questions for each past and present
1. Where have you been selfish — or less than generous?
2. Where have you been dishonest, or less than trustworthy and sincere?
3. Where have you been inconsiderate? Did you thoughtlessly or selfishly
hurt or inconvenience others?
4. Where did you arouse jealousy, feelings of insecurity or envy? How did
you make someone close to you resentful of rivals?
5. Where did you arouse suspicion, the feeling something is wrong?
6. Where did you arouse bitterness, pain and resentment?
7. Where were you at fault? (Fault: responsible for a defect or mistake.)
8. Did you behave selfishly, concerned chiefly with your own personal
benefit at the expense of others?
9. What should you have done instead?
Then ask yourself, "Who have I hurt as a result of my behavior?"
Add these names to your list of "Harms Done to Others."
From now on:
1. We ask God to mold our ideals and help us live up to them.
2. We make amends where we hurt others, provided we do not bring
about more harm by making amends.
3. We treat sex as we would any other problem. This means we treat
all problems the same: we pray for guidance from God. In meditation,
we get the guidance we need. The right answers will come, if we want
them. See Step 11 on p. 86-88.